2011-12-09 / Top Stories

Battle Over FDNY Monitor Fees

By Howard Schwach


Judge Garaufis after a recent court hearing. Judge Garaufis after a recent court hearing. The emphasis on color shifted from the color of the city’s firefighters to the color of money last week in a Brooklyn federal courtroom.

The city and a court-appointed monitor brought in to oversee the hiring practices of the New York City Fire Department could not agree on the hourly wage to be paid to the monitor and his firm.

Mark Cohen, the former federal prosecutor whose litigation law firm was hired by Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis to overhaul FDNY’s hiring practices, especially its recruitment and testing of minorities, is seeking a decision from Garaufis on the fee issue. Cohen has dropped his demand that the city pay $650 to $750 per hour for partners in the firm to $525 to $650 per hour, but the city says that is still too high for the work that needs to be done.

The city wants to pay a flat $450 an hour.

“The monitor should not earn four or five times more than the judge who appointed him,” a city official said in court papers.

Meanwhile, FDNY Battalion Chief Paul Mannix, a longtime critic of the claim that the firefighters exam discriminated against minority recruits, has accused Garaufis of patronage in his appointment of Cohen.

In a news release, Mannix suggested that the law firm’s counsel, Lawrence Gresser a former Queens Deputy Borough President, has political ties to Garaufis and his wife. Garaufis was once an attorney for Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.

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