Monitor Must Oversee Fire Dept. Hiring Practices, Judge Rules

In a lacerating decision that accused Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of willfully ignoring the racial imbalance in the city’s Fire Department, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a court-appointed monitor would be installed to oversee the department’s recruitment efforts and ensure that more minority candidates are hired.

The decision by the judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, comes at the end of four years of bitter litigation in which the city and the Fire Department stood accused of allowing the department to remain almost 97 percent white for decades. The ruling was remarkable for both its language and its substance. Judge Garaufis accused the city of “blame-shifting” and “accountability-avoidance” in ignoring the Fire Department’s longstanding racial inequities (“The city still doesn’t get it,” he wrote.) He also ruled that the only way to combat this official intransigence was to appoint a monitor with wide-ranging powers and a tenure of at least 10 years.

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