Is Merit Matters' Advocacy Justifying White Supremacist Ideology as FDNY Policy?

Merit Matters is a self-proclaimed advocacy organization established for the sole purpose of denying African-Americans, and other non-white ethnic groups, a fair chance of employment within the FDNY. Merit Matters has chosen to make the issue of FDNY testing a battle cry for their group. However, the major problem is the FDNY civil service exams for 1999 and 2002 were proven to be ineffective at determining which applicants would become the best firefighters. The only value those exams had were significantly lessening hiring from non-white ethnic groups. This in fact makes the 1999 and 2002 exams illegal under the legal designation of “disparate impact”; which is a clear violation of 1964 Civil Rights Act. It should also be clearly stated the FDNY does not officially endorse Merit Merits' actions because they understand this group is advocating violation of Federal Laws and the Equal Opportunity Employment statures. These facts have not deterred Merit Matters Deputy Chief Paul Mannix from engaging in a relentless propaganda campaign against Judge Garaufis, the Vulcan Society, and non-white firefighter applicants previously refused employment due to the FDNY's corrupt and nepotistic hiring practices. Now the previous statements may seem like heavy accusations to those with only a vague familiarity of this issue, but I will provide clear evidence as to the legitimacy of Merit Matters' ongoing role in attempting to undermine the necessary changes within the FDNY hiring process. The Legal docket “MEMORANDUM & ORDER 07-cv-2067 (NGG)(RLM)” which was filed 07/22/09 details all the legal violations of previous FDNY exams; specifically the 1999 & 2002 tests[1]. Pages 13 -16, 25 - 28, 43 - 44, 50, 62 - 67, 91 – 93 should be referenced for the essential evidence justifying Judge Garaufis' decision. This legal docket is focused on statistical outcomes related to the previous FDNY exams and subsequent hiring practices. The information is mathematically derived but it's still understandable for people who read at a college level. This is definitely not the often repeated 'show me one specific question' that many whom dislike, and don't understand, the Judge ruling frequently state as a critique. If anyone wants to deny statistical data as evidence of the previous FDNY exams violating "disparate impact" that thinking is irrational as someone refusing to understand aerodynamics but the same individual wants to know how planes are able to fly through the air. Merit Matters members and their supporters have also questioned the necessary changes to the FDNY exam. Paul Mannix and others against the reforms within the FDNY are stating the new FDNY is “watered-down” or “dumb-down” in order to allow more Nonwhites ethnic groups to qualify for positions as entry-level FDNY firefighters. However, once again this is propaganda meant to besmirch the corrections to previously biased exams. The Truth of the new FDNY exam is quoted below from the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York website. "Judge Garaufis brought in at least six Ph.D. test-development experts knowledgeable about firefighting to develop the new exam, Mr. Levy said, many of them among the country's top experts. They were chosen by all parties to the suit: the Special Master hired by the Judge, the city and the U.S. Government"[2]. I respectfully encourage Mr. Mannix, and anyone else agreeing with Merit Matters, to show their relevant credentials and resume showing their experience in designing civil service exams! Merit Matters members' statements clearly shows intolerance towards non-white ethnic groups to the extreme extant of suppressing both professionalism and common sense. “Firefighters are together in close contact with fellow firefighters and supervisors for a far greater percentage of their time at work than Police Officers. This reality increases the trust and comity required for efficient operations, as well as increasing the possibility of tension and conflict with all the negative consequences presented by such a situation if incompetent personnel, or those who did not earn their position on the merits, are

introduced”[3]. There is one major flaw in this statement of Mr. Mannix; any African-American or Hispanic Firefighter hired as apart of the judgment of this lawsuit must attend and successfully complete the FDNY firefighter Academy. There's no way any one not cognitively able or physically fit is going to simply be passed through the academy and given a job in the FDNY. How are Merit Matters' members & supporters willing to express outrage over their perception of “tension and conflict with all the negative consequences” because of these appointments? Are Merit Matters' members willing to sabotage or tamper with the gear of priority-hire African-American & Hispanic firefighters? Are Merit Matters' members willing to alter their response time in the presence of an priority-hire African-American or Hispanic Firefighters in order to make them appear to be out of sync with their fire company? Are Merit Matters' members willing to allow property on fire to become severely damaged, or even completely destroyed to later blame a priority-hire African-American or Hispanic firefighter? These are legitimate questions based on previous statements from Merit Matters about current firefighters' promise about refusing to work with any incoming priority-hire AfricanAmerican & Hispanic firefighters; recruited through the Department of Justice & Vulcan Society lawsuit settlement. I share a selection from a objection letter sample from FDNY companies 28 and 11, based in Manhattan's Lower East Side, for those individuals whom think I'm overreacting and asking outrageous questions, or those whom believe such events can't ever happen. “I do not want to work with these applicants because I know they have not been held to as high a standard as other members. Nothing will do more to foster racial animus in our ranks”[4]. Does that statement from FDNY companies 28 and 11's objection letter come off as remotely logical? Can someone explain the logic of such a statement considering any priority-hire firefighter will still have to successfully complete the FDNY Fire Academy. Recognize that quote from FDNY Companies 28 and 11 is simply a thinly-veiled threat against any incoming priority-hire African-American and Hispanic firefighters. It's no stretch of the imagination to understand how this kind of thinking on behalf of Merit Matters' and their supporters can easily lead to unnecessary destruction of property, injuries, and even loss of life. The potential loss of life due to racial intolerance brings us to the next point of “disparate impact”. Mr. Mannix has grossly misrepresented “disparate impact” as simply a means of instituting “racial quotas”. “Disparate impact” may seem like an abstract legal term, but it is actually explains discriminatory behavior that happens within the real world. The death of Jamel Sears while at the FDNY Fire Academy in 2008 was a result of similar bigoted ideology that can be classified under the legal term of “disparate impact”. The details of Mr. Sears' death can be found doing a simple Google search, so there's no need for me to recount the entire horrific incident. However, I will focus on the order given by the FDNY Academy Instructor 'not to assist Mr. Sears'; when he requested help removing his gear after he collapsed[5]. Would such an order been given if Jamel was named Philip, Peter, or Patrick and he looked like one of the members of the the FDNY Emerald Society? I'm sure it's also a coincidence the same year the FDNY inducted the largest number of non-white 'probys' into the Fire Academy at Randall's Island is also the same year the training intensity was cranked up to extreme levels, resulting in Mr. Sears Death. Also recall two former NYPD officers that killed African Immigrant Amadou Diallo were ruled fit to serve within the FDNY, and they would be firefighters had not the media reported those former police officers appointment[6]. Merit Matters and their supporters are unable and unwilling understand the legitimate reasons for legal intervention despite these incident and numerous other discriminatory events within the FDNY.

Merit Matters instead tries to excuse the ongoing racial discrimination by having an Asian-American Firefighter state to the local media that ethnicity is a non-issue within the FDNY[7]. While I won't argue with Mr. Chan's belief, because he is certainly entitled to them. However, the doors of opportunity were opened decades before by African-American firefighters and their contributions have continued to open the proverbial doors for any and all non-white ethnic groups. We have only to answer some very simple questions to verify the previous statement. Did the first Asian-American join the FDNY before or after the first African-American joined that civil service organization? Did the first Asian-American firefighter join the FDNY before or after the passage on the 1964 Civil Rights Act? The history of African-Americans serving as firefighters throughout the United States has followed a similar course of events. Beginning with outright refusal of employment, grudging acceptance, and finally realization that African-Americans & other ethnic groups are just as capable members of their fire departments. Today, nationwide African-Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups proudly serve in major metropolitan fire departments, and their cities have not burned to the ground[8]. However, Merit Matters will have the people of NYC believe such a ghastly fate awaits NYC; if it's firefighting department becomes diversified. Once again ignoring the simple fact any priority-hire firefighter must successfully complete the Fire Academy to become a entry level firefighter[9]. The FDNY and it's Fire Academy are both financed by NYC taxpayers. Taxpayers whom belong to diverse ethnic groups, including African-Americans. Merit Matters and their supporters are perfectly satisfied to have African-Americans taxed to finance their salaries, but they believe African-American residents of NYC are somehow not worthy enough to serve as firefighters. “If minority applicants were really discriminated against, then mail them checks. Let the taxpayers subsidize this childish game, and let those responsible feel their contempt”[4]. The contempt is clear in this objection letter, and it's fueled by both willful ignorance about the FDNY long history of employment discrimination targeted towards non-whites applicants and the inflammatory rhetoric continuously put forth by Merit Matters. This rhetoric coming from Merit Matters is both morally reprehensible and it is also completely disingenuous. Mr. Mannix claims his organization is about holding the FDNY to the highest standards possible. However, Mr. Mannix sent a group of men to disrupt the Vulcan Society FDNY exam preparation course. This isn't slander because Mr. Mannix has admitted to this action, “Mannix, president of Merit Matters, a group that opposes affirmative action in the FDNY, said he'd forwarded the Vulcans' invitation to his distribution list because he believed their classes were better than the city's”[10]. Why would an organization that claims to stress working hard to earn employment within the FDNY send a group of young men to disrupt Exam preparation classes? Does that action reflect the philosophical ethos of a organization which claims the candidates whom work the hardest deserve to be hired? Mr. Mannix has also stated in writing the FDNY should not be penalized because there are other civil service agencies not representative of New York City's demographics. On the very surface this seems a valid argument, but once critical thinking is applied to that statement it's quickly revealed to be another example of Mr. Mannix's flawed logic; which is meant to justify discriminatory hiring practices within the FDNY. Where is the evidence that white males or females are being denied employment in other NYC civil service agencies? All people are protected under the same 1964 Civil Rights Act, and any discriminated group can sue their City, State, Federal government, or Private Companies to correct illegal hiring practices[11].

Judge Garaufis ruling isn't merely about monetary damages to African-American and Hispanic applicants with potential jobs offers. Judge Garaufis completely understands the FDNY's discriminatory employment practices go beyond testing, and the entire hiring process is in fact corrupted. Judge Garaufis wisely ordered a court monitor to oversee the entire FDNY recruitment & hiring process, because the evidence is overwhelming the FDNY and NYC officials can not be trusted to adhered to Federal regulations[12]. A disposition from Patricia Kavaler a former assistant commissioner for personnel was submitted which prove that white candidates were being allowed into the FDNY with criminal records and other questionable concerns, because their family and friends within the FDNY 'pulled strings' to get them hired[13]. Even the local firefighter union, UFA 94, recognizes the history of FDNY discrimination, “Some firefighters in the New York City Fire Department are actively opposing a federal judge’s order to reform the department’s long history of bad employment practices”[14]. It's quite interesting many people opposed to changes of FDNY administrative policies frequently state 'there's no nepotism' within this NYC agency. However, the current Commissioner of the FDNY recently signed a department directive making recommendations for entry level firefighters illegal[15]. Deputy Chief Paul Mannix the President of Merit Matters is unhappy about this new FDNY order banning referrals. Read Mr. Mannix's comment below the article, "FDNY douses ‘friends & family’ hiring" and Mr. Mannix posted allegations about the Vulcan Society having made recommendations as well. Shouldn't Mr. Mannix applaud this decision from the FDNY Commissioner to make the selection process fair and equal for all applicants? Mr. Mannix's comment on the New York Post news article proves his organization isn't about fair standards for all FDNY firefighter applicants. The rhetoric and righteous indignation about testing is merely a smoke screen, for keeping the corrupt and nepotistic hiring practices within the FDNY. The standards Merit Matters' champions are those which will allow active duty firefighters of the FDNY to remain predominately Caucasian/White males. At this point I'm more than justified to 'stop walking on eggshells' and allowed to call this so-called Advocacy group what they truly are and not what they pretend to be. Merit Matters is a mob of angry white males whom are adamant about maintaining “white privilege” and “overwhelming white male majority” within a taxpayer funded civil service agency. This effectively designates Merit Matters as the de facto 'white supremacist group' operating within the FDNY. Furthermore, Mr. Manix has stated, “I have been contacted many times by firefighters expressing their frustration with this plan. This resentment has the potential to create a divisive, toxic atmosphere and thwart the team building required for optimal performance at fires and emergencies”[3]. A valid case can also be made there are active duty firefighters conspiring to hinder, and maybe even sabotage, FDNY operations if any priority-hire African-Americans and Hispanic applicants are allowed to join this city agency; based on examination of previous statements. Especially, when comparing Mr. Mannix's statements with the objection letter from FDNY companies 28 and 11. I do have parting advice for any active duty FDNY firefighters who agrees with Merit Matters. On behalf of the people of NYC please feel free to resign or retire. This isn't an insult, but sound advice that firefighters agreeing with Merit Matters should seriously consider. Your mentality threatens the safety of the people of NYC, members of your fire company, and also yourself; especially if you are unable to accept that you may soon be working within a more diversified agency[16]. New York City is a Cosmopolitan Metropolis composed of diverse Ethnic Groups and Nationalities in case you haven't noticed. Do not insult my fellow residents by thinking you are tolerating us because you have some kind of twisted messiah-complex going on inside your mind. Either have the Courage to serve with your fellow firefighters regardless of their ethnicity or have the Courage to leave and Allow another Deserving and Willing individual to Serve in your place.

Bibliography
[1] Garaufis, Nicholas. “MEMORANDUM & ORDER 07-cv-2067 (NGG)(RLM),” Drafted In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, July 22, 2009, accessed October 15, 2012. http://ccrjustice.org/files/09.07.22_Garaufis_20Vulcans_20Opinion.pdf [2] Dorsey, Sarah. “Outspoken FDNY Chief, Lawyer Debate Merits Of Firefighter Testing,” Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, August 28, 2012, accessed October 15, 2012. http://www.ufanyc.org/cms/contents/view/13935 [3] “My Objection – by FDNY Deputy Chief and Merit Matters President Paul Mannix,” Merit Matters Blogspot, August 21, 2012, accessed September 24, 2012. http://meritmattersusa.blogspot.com/2012/08/my-objection-by-fdny-deputy-chief-and.html [4] “Object to Proposed Relief Order,” FDNY’s Engine 28 and Ladder 11, July 27th, 2012, accessed September 24, 2012. http://28and11.com/?p=196 [5] Del Signore, John. “Widow of FDNY Recruit Suing Over "Racist" Training Program,” Gothamist, February 13, 2009, accessed September 24, 2012. http://gothamist.com/2009/02/13/widow_of_fdny_recruit_suing_over_ra.php [6] Fair, Flor. “Claim Cheating, Favoritism Tainted Firefighter Hiring,” Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, August 09, 2011, accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.ufanyc.org/cms/contents/view/11379 [7] Costella, AnnMarie. “Asian firefighters see no racism in the FDNY,” Queens Chronicle, January 19, 2012, accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/asian-firefighters-see-noracism-in-the-fdny/article_b00166b3-d682-5d97-bb36-30188d2ff64e.html [8] “Black Firefighters Question Those Trying to Stand in Way of Integration,” The Center for Constitutional Rights, October 1, 2012, accessed October 15, 2012. http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/pressreleases/black-firefighters-question-those-trying-stand-way-of-integration [9] Garaufis, Nicholas. “Proposed Relief Order,” Drafted In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, July 10, 2012, accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.justice.gov/crt/spec_topics/fdny/documents/doc_922.pdf [10] Dorsey, Sarah. “Dispute Whether Race Figured Into Exclusion From Fire Tutorial” Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, March 06, 2012, accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.ufanyc.org/cms/contents/view/12626 [11] “Teaching With Documents: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” National Archives , Accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/civil-rights-act/ [12] Feuer, Alan. “Monitor Must Oversee Fire Dept. Hiring Practices, Judge Rules,” New York Times, October 5, 2011, accessed September 24, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/nyregion/monitormust-oversee-ny-fire-dept-hiring-judge-rules.html [13] Marzulli, John. “FDNY's dirty little secret: White firefighters' criminal pasts ignored in hiring, says exofficial.” New York Daily News, August 02, 2011, accessed September 24, 2012. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-08-02/local/29859952_1_vulcan-society-gregory-seabrook-blackfirefighters [14] New York Time Editorial. “Free Opinions at Firehouses,” Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, January 31, 2012 , accessed September 24, 2012. http://ufalocal94.org/cms/contents/view/12414 [15] Edelman, Susan. "FDNY douses ‘friends & family’ hiring," New York Post, September 23, 2012, accessed October 15, 2012. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/fdny_douses_friends_family_hiring_4Evlkoi4frs5dTmTsG1NyL [16] “If Your Fire Department is Almost 90 Percent White,” Tumblr.com, October 2, 2012, Accessed October 15, 2012. http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/fdny?before=1349212713