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Gman2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 10:11 AM
Original message
About Those White Firefighters that claim discrimination.
I am white. I dont know my ancestry like others. Oh well.

The only reason why the white firefighters are in a position to claim discrimination, is they have a strong union, that goes to bat for them. It enforces a path of advancement to the men that do the grunt work. In no other path do you have such anticipation of careful consideration. Management is not pressured to promote from within. And indeed, it is considered weak to do so. You didnt get the best talent you could find. The only times I was considered for promotion from within, was becasuse two companies were secretely positioning to sell. Usually, a job you can get, you dont want. It really is like the old Groucho Marx joke. Any club that would have me...... So, the white firefighters are crying about being less considered for internal promotion, that only being an issue, because of a strong union. Those paths of internal promotion, have traditionally been seen as escape valves for minorities. Aint got any of societies advantages, go into the service. Or cop, firefighter or such. These then, have traditionally been the flashpoints, where we apply pressure, to equate the relative levels of opportunity for those previously deprived. Take away the air of enhanced opportunity for minorities in these traditional fields of bootstrap advancement, and you WILL get civil unrest. There is a delicate balance contained there. To push for complete removal of those constraints, luckily, will alienate the republicans from minorities further. Luckily, the double edged sword was grabbed from our hands whem we forgot our mothers told us to always hand othes sharp objects handle first. Oh, and the handle seems to have come off in my hand. What we have, is a prenazi Germany, that has a majority of the population being Jew, and organized. Waiting with baseball bats and bazookas for Kristalnacht. Perhaps, I might have mercy on them, and not mention the whole Grover Norquist thingie about bathtubs. Teabaggers would do well to remember the Dixiechics. They taught us everything they know. If Republicans make this a last gasp of the angry white male, I believe this, will be their death rattle. We might as well use them as party favors. They waterboarded themselves. And have spewed the stuff you should NEVER utter aloud. With megalomania as their bullhorn.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. I think you are clueless about the specifics of that case
Independent outside company that specialize in bias free testing was hired. They created and over saw the test. 19 white and one hispanic were the top finishers. The city rejected the results based purely on race to avoid a law suit, not merit or demonstrable bias.

This case is important since it may strike down any form of percentages check AKA disproportionate impact. Its been a long standing principle that is now at risk. Also Sotomayor's ruling on this is being cited by the repukes as a reason not to confirm her.
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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. They Republicans wanted her to be an "activist" judge in that case and are criticizing her
Edited on Thu May-28-09 10:54 AM by Pirate Smile
for not being one when they attack her based on that case. Then, in the next breath, they claim she is an activist judge which is horrible and, therefore, she shouldn't be confirmed. :eyes:
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Wasn't the basis for them rejecting the test result due to the fact that
only ongoing institutional racism could explain the fact that there were no black top finishers? That the institution itself failed its people by not seeing to it that all its people were equally well trained?

It is an extremely easy way to discriminate, to not train equally, then promote only based on 'merit'. That is why affirmative action was created - not to promote the unqualified, but to assure that everyone could become qualified and to root out institutional racism.

You can't hold people back, then say 'we only judge by the results'.
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. If that is the case then at the very least you have to prove that.
Hire some experts to analyze the training, publish a report saying the training was biased resulting in biased score THEN throw out the scores.

You can't just not like the results and as a result promote nobody because it doesn't look right.
The case will be overturned no doubt about that.

Over 100 people took the test, of which 27% were black. There were only 15 slots for promotion.
So the overwhelming majority were not eligible for promotion.

The lead plaintiff quit his second job, paid for someone to create audio books for him to overcome his disability. Made flash cards, organized study groups, and essentially dedicated his personal time to passing. He scored 6th. He took person initiative and responsibility to ensure he would succeed and did. Isn't that the American dream?

What is strange is the lack of an opinion by the 2nd circuit.
Take the CASC Prop8 opinion it is over 185 pages.
In Heller the SCOTUS reached the same conclusion as the lower court but the opinion is nearly 100 pages.

The 2nd circuit simply gave summary judgment with no opinion.
Later the summary judgment was withdrawn and case heard en banc only to write an opinion shorter than most traffic court verdicts.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Simply looking at the percentages, 5 of the top 20 should have been
black. If three, or even one or two, had been in the top twenty it could be dismissed as a statistical anomaly. But for not even one to be in the 15 slots for promotion, or not even one to be among the top twenty finishers, is simply outside the probabilities, indicating a systemic problem. By all means, look at the training schedule. But don't close off those promotions until AFTER the problem has been fixed.

This does not look at all like 'reverse discrimination' to me - it looks like flat out discrimination, against the black firefighters who were shut out.
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. but the city didn't do that.
Edited on Thu May-28-09 03:01 PM by Statistical
the city didn't say we are halting promotions and having an inquiry into the results.

If they did that maybe the case wouldn't be before the Supreme Court.

The city simply said we don't like the results so we are throwing them out.

One point to make is their is no studying for the test on the job. It is something individuals took upon themselves. weekend classes, study groups, mock tests, etc.

The city could have done an analysis to determine the level of study and preparation done by each candidate and compared that to the results. They could have compared years of service to the results. They could have compared skill sets to the results (the test covers more than the daily aspects of the job because it is a captains level exam and captain should be knowledgeable of all skill sets needed). Those who moved around in the organization and had exposure to different aspects of the job would have an advantage.

You are assuming that all candidates:
* held same position
* has same amount of years of experience
* put same amount of effort into preparing outside of the workplace

But they didn't or at least we don't know they didn't because the city didn't do any sort of analysis on the results.

The city did nothing. They simply didn't like the results and threw them out.

If you read the oral arguments you will see the city essentially has no defense. Kennedy begins the hearing asking very directed questions at the plaintiff by the end his comments towards the cities unconvincing responses shows which way he was leaning by the end. Which ever way Kennedy votes the court will vote.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #6
17. I am SO with you on this. Since I live in New Haven and have had this mayor
for years I am familiar with his arrogance and his incompetence. He doesn't hire really good people who could've given him better advice. He is beholden to some pretty corrupt characters in the city. And he really rolls over anybody who opposes him. "Bastard" is a pretty good description of DeStefano.

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brendan120678 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. I know people in New Haven who were glad when he ran...
for governor a few years ago. They were hoping that they would finally be rid of him!
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I am pained to say that I actually voted for this guy for governor and for mayor.
One of my good friends, a good Dem, absolutely detests the man. Her husband, a corporate attorney, had done battle with the mayor on a proposed mall in the city and won. She claims DeStefano had a vendetta against him. I have now told her she was right and I was wrong about this guy. I feel like an idiot supporting him over the years. I shoulda known...
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. What you are missing/refusing to acknowledge is how the test was done
Edited on Thu May-28-09 08:12 PM by ProgressiveProfessor
- Externally by a company with an established track record for neutral testing
- Test training material and guides were available well ahead of time for everyone
- No prior claims of inadequate training for some fire fighters


Your premise is that unequal results means unequal opportunity. There are no facts in evidence to support that concept in this case. This may well be the case that destroys what is left of the presumption that you are defending. Its a big deal in the civil rights world, which is why Sotomayor's treatment of it is being raised.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Maybe there are no facts in evidence because nobody was
looking for those facts until after the test, when everyone was in CYA mode? That is the way it usually works.

I don't know, and I suspect neither does anyone else. The fact is, testing is at the END of the process. What needs to be looked at is what came before the test. Maybe those guys would be vindicated. Maybe not. But if the black firefighters did not know they were not getting proper training, they couldn't complain about it, could they? So no prior complaint means exactly zip.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 08:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. The test itself has never been challenged nor the training
Which is why the entire concept of disproportionate impact is in serious jeopardy. Right now it is the presumption, this could well reverse it since no one has ever proved there was any problem with the test or preexisting training etc. Its all a presumption based on the results. This may be the case the overturns that. SCOTUS handicappers are saying Kennedy is the key and he clearly did not like what the city put up in its oral arguments.
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vadawg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. my question i sprobuably naive, but couldnt it be that the best candidates were the guys who did
the best, im not sure why people dont think that mayby the guys who didnt do as well just were not as good, whether they are black, white, short, tall etc.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. OMG, how dare you suggest the competence and merit matter
:sarcasm:
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. There is nothing on the record to suport your assumptions
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #8
14. And nothing on record to refute them. nt
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fair trade soy chai Donating Member (34 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-28-09 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
9. Wasn't one of the potential firefighters Hispanic? It was my understanding
that the ones who complained about this had scored higher than the Black applicant. If they are going to choose employees willy-nilly, then why bother going through the motions or pretense of a test in the first place?
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Gman2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #9
15. The whole scoring higher thingie is a red herring
Many factors go into it. If a minority candidate, who came from a poverty school, wouldnt have as many places on their resume for college year opportunities at volunteer type stuff.

Also, couldnt it be that blacks felt it was tilting at windmills to apply? If you were in charge, would you use precious resources to conduct a thorough investigation into testing methodology in all its aspects? Or just invalidate a flawed process, without using the resources to prove subtle expensive bias?
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 03:31 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. There is no prima facie evidence that the process was flawed,in fact there is evidence to the
contrary. This could easily be the case that destroys the presumption of bias based on numerical imbalance.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. But other cities have used other test methodologies that DO produce more racially mixed
results. Why didn't New Haven used a tried and true test and not one that had NOT been similarly tried? My guess, given my knowledge of the city having lived here since 1985, is that the Mayor and his corp counsel were incompetent. They could have engaged in "best practices" to find out about other cities' FD practices and their outcomes. They did not.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. Actually they went to an outside test company that had generated
non-biased tests in the past that have passed muster previously. That is good, if not best practice.

From what is available online, it looks like a some firefighters really focused on it and did well and others (not just blacks) did not put forth that effort and did not score as well.

The key issue at stake is if disproportionate results are prima facie discrimination. Its the current presumption and it may well die with this case.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 08:09 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. No, it is my understanding that the test they used had not been used before.
So they had no idea how it would have fared in actual use.

Why NOT use the tests of those cities that had success with other tests? That is my question. If you can find a test that is more fair racially, why not use it?
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #23
27. You haven't yet proven the test was "unfair racially".
The testing company is top notch and well respected.

While it is true this is a new test they have made similar tests in the past and had racially neutral results.

What the city did before the test is not relevent though.

The city contracted for a test.
The city used the test.
The results came back and there were no black candidates in the top 15 slots.
The city threw out the test results.

The plaintiffs even conceded under Kennedy questioning that the test may be flawed.

May be is not a legal defense for the city though. You "may be" a tax fraud but the city can't seize your tax refund because you might be a fraud. They need to prove it.

The city had a responsibility to verify the test was bad before throwing out the results.
The testing company even offered to do a statistical analysis of the questions & answers (as it has done for other clients) but the city REFUSED. They simply without any evidence thew the results out.

Even worse internal memos from the city indicate the city was worried about "how it looks" and if they would be sued not any actually concern for an unbalanced test.

The test may be flawed but the point is the city never even made sure. Simply put they didn't like the results and discarded them. If 15 of the 15 top spots had been from black candidates and the city threw out the results without even analyzing them would we even be having this conversation?

By the end of oral arguments Justice Kennedy responses to the city weak rebuttals were very telling.
Kennedy will be the swing vote if it comes down to 4-4 plus Kennedy. I would give 2:1 in favor of the plaintiffs. At the closest it will be 5-4 but it might even be 6-3.

Then again based on the arguments I thought Heller would be 6-3 and it was closer than I expected.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-30-09 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. You are right about "may be." But why not use a test that "did" produce racially balanced scores
in similar cities? That is my point here. On something this important why didn't the city take the more cautionary route? At least they could say "Well, we used a test proven to be racially neutral and here are the results." That would better show good faith in the testing and your case would be strengthened (as I understand your case to be, which is --and correct me if I am wrong-- that the white firefighters scored fair and square). You keep the barn door closed in the first place; closing it after the horse gets away does no good.

You are right about the political "how it looks" situation at City Hall in New Haven. The mayor was essentially bullied by a corrupt wheeler-dealer who purports to hold the key to black support in the community. These two characters are disgusting.

My argument is that the mayor had the duty to pursue the fairest test he could find. Failing that, he should have had the test's questions and answers analyzed, as you point out. Total dereliction of duty, in my book. And of course politically motivated.

OF COURSE the city had weak assed answers during the arguing of the case before the SCOTUS. It's simply further proof of their complete incompetence.

What enrages me to the point of apoplexy is that our mayor has, through his recklessness, put the doctrine of affirmative action in this country in jeopardy. A good cause may go down because of a corrupt mayor and his willing cronies.

I am hopeful for a narrowly written decision, hopeful that the damage won't be sweeping and severe, since I agree with you that the plaintiffs will win in this decision. Do you have any thoughts on what "might" be breadth of this case's decision? I'm no expert in the law or even an analyzer of this SCOTUS, so I am interested in knowing what better informed people think...

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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #15
26. It wasn't a resume or job application
It was test for existing firefighters.

A test for a senior position (fire captain). There were 15 slots for promotion.

108 candidates applied.

A fire captain needs to be knowledgeable on ALL aspects of the job not just an individual firefighters "lane".

The test tested all aspects of the fire fighter position.

The test was made by an outside 3rd party w/ record of making high quality exams.
Testing prep material was supplied to anyone interested in the process.

The exam was graded electronically. There were no handicaps for colleges, or volunteer work.

The top 15 scores contained no black candidates.
The city without any analysis simple threw out all the scores because it wouldn't "look good" and the feared a lawsuit.
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Kat45 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 07:37 PM
Response to Original message
22. These tests require serious studying to do well on.
Edited on Fri May-29-09 07:38 PM by Kat45
I have a friend who has been a firefighter for years and he has never even considered pursuing promotion. Why? Because he says he would basically have to spend all of his free time studying in order to have a chance of doing well on the test. He had no desire to do the equivalent of going back to school; he prefers to have a life. Perhaps some of these firefighters did not elect to spend every waking hour studying for the test and thus did not get the highest scores.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 08:22 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. I am not sure this is the issue entirely. Some cities use tests that involve simulation
and do not rely so heavily on written tests. That seems reasonable to me. These tests have proven to yield racially balanced results. That the test in New Haven did not do so speaks more to the imcompetence of the mayor and his staff than to anything else. They had the chance to use one of the tried and true tests and opted for the one that screwed them...
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sl8 Donating Member (256 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 08:33 PM
Response to Original message
25. Link to oral arguments audio.
2d Cir., not SCOTUS

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/05/29/sotomayor-tape... /

I haven't listened to it yet.
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