2012-04-13 / Top Stories

Battle Lines Drawn Between Garaufis And Mayor

By Howard Schwach


Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are locked in battle over the FDNY hiring process. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are locked in battle over the FDNY hiring process. The battle lines have been drawn between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis over how much money the monitor appointed by Garaufis should earn from the city as well as how much money those who may have been discriminated against should get from the court.

Garaufis announced two weeks ago that the amount of back wages owed minorities affected by discrimination in the city’s firefighter entrance exams could be more than $128 million.

In a decision, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said hearings will be held to determine how much individual claimants will receive, which could lower the total amount the city will have to pay.

Garaufis ruled previously that the Fire Department of New York discriminated against minorities in its entrance exam, saying black and Hispanic applicants had disproportionately failed the written examinations and those who passed were placed disproportionately lower down the hiring lists than whites.

City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo called the opinion “erroneous” and said: “When all the proceedings have been completed, the damages, if any, that the city will have to pay will be far less than $128 million.”

The judge appointed Mark Cohen, a former federal prosecutor and an old acquaintance of his, as independent monitor in October to keep an eye on the department’s effort to improve diversity in recruiting officers. In January, the city filed a brief asking an appeals court to remove the judge, saying he had abandoned his neutral role.

Last week, Cohen gave the city his first bill for work done. It was in the amount of $310,758.90 for 52 days of work.

When Bloomberg demanded that Cohen provide details proving the city owed him nearly $600 a day, Garaufis refused.

He also refused the city’s request that Cohen provide a bond so that court costs could be paid in the event that he loses the suit the city plans to bring against him.

Garaufis told city attorneys that he would monitor Cohen’s work and his bills to make sure they are correct, but he would do it in private, away from the city’s prying eyes.

Garaufis said that to provide information on how the money was spent might reveal to city attorneys the direction he is taking in revamping the fire department’s hiring process.

The mayor did not agree, arguing once again that the federal court’s chief judge should remove Garaufis from the case as being “no longer impartial.”

Garaufis was just overturned on another major case in which many believed he was no longer impartial. On Friday of last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his ruling that the large adult homes throughout the city, a dozen of them in Rockaway, be broken up and that their residents be scattered throughout the community in small, assisted living units.

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