tv Book Discussion on Firefight CSPAN September 3, 2015 10:01pm-11:10pm EDT
>> that was quite a bit later. >> host: protest didn't occur much then, and interestingly enough i'd didn't go into everything. i didn't go into labor unrest and strikes. there were in 1920, 3000 strikes, 20 years before that there would have been none. it was a massive change and an indication of how terrible the working conditions were that the strike became a staple of the american workplace. >> it's probably a naïve question but what was the political forces against women voting. so people people were giving money for what fears?
>> host: i have no idea. there is no logical reason for it. i can tell you a great number of the people who opposed suffrage were women. explanations that i have read about women in particular opposing suffrage had to do with their roles. they sounded like the worst of's chauvinistic men that it is not our place to be in the voting booth. we have our places, our men have their places. this is not a good idea, i don't think they would've used a term like this that it's not a good idea to confuse the roles. that was the general idea behind it. again this is coming from women it's really from men.
>> follow-up question. on the 18th and 19th amendment. on one hand you had a lot of women who opposed suffrage but among women who are the most diehard activist for suffrage, you had prominent leaders who seem to be making deals who are very active in the movement of very supportive of the 18th amendment as well. would you you talk about that in the book. the political bargaining that seem to be going on between the two groups to get both those amendment in the same year. >> host: i've written at length in another book about the 18th amendment, it is my feeling it was a very minor factor. so the answer is no. i don't think it had much to do
with the basic problems of the 19th amendment. >> could you talk about about the harlem renaissance and the state of race relations in 1920 and its connection with the harlem renaissance which was popular among certain white people. host mac the harlem renaissance was a glorious thing and it's wonderful to read about. the effect that it had on white generally was nonexistent. the harlem renaissance was funded for the most part by jewish merton gents from manhattan who would drive up in the limousine at night and enjoyed the pleasure of exotic cultures. it was not by any means a tourist attraction. it did not draw people from
other places. the duke ellington was playing for the cotton club, were almost exclusively new yorkers. by the way at the cotton club, although a lot of blacks sang and played, they were not allowed in the door to be customers. duke ellington was asked about that and as you might imagine had a very unsatisfactory answer. as powerful a man as he was he could have said something about it. then again the cotton club was owned by a man who was in jail at the time of her various murders. perhaps one went along with his racial dicta.
the harlem renaissance was not particularly widespread with its effect on race relations in terms of how it changed music, in terms of how it changed literature, yes it had an effect. in terms of how the average white looked at the average black, it did not have much of an effect, unfortunately. it is just a wonderful period. i don't know people share my adoration, almost for hl macon who, to me is one of the most interesting journalists to read. believe it or not he was a leading figure of the harlem renaissance, he was somewhat anti- somatic and jews were among his best friends. he was prejudiced against
african-americans but he works very hard with african-american writers. what they say about him, they idolize him. he, more more than anybody else took it upon himself to make sure that literarily the harlem renaissance succeed. much more than you ask. >> thank you. >> is that it for questions? [applause]. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for coming, if you haven't had a chance to get a copy of the book they are back here and you can get them signed.
>> book tv continues friday with books by presidential candidates. at 8:00 p.m. eastern ohio government discusses stand for something. at 830 louisiana governor on on his book leadership in crisis. then an interview with rand paul with his book, government government bullies, however the americans are being harassed, abuse, and imprisoned by the feds. former texas governor discusses fed up, our fight to save america from washington. books by presidential candidates, 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> coming up a discussion on limiting nonstrategic nuclear weapons in the u.s. and russia. we will show show this event, hosted by the center for search teaching in international studies five at 9:00 a.m.
eastern here on c-span2. >> sunday night on q and a, stanford law school professor deborah rhody talked about the trouble with lawyers, the high cost of law school, and a lack of diversity in the profession are. >> i think we need a different model of legal education, we need that includes, one your programs for people doing routine work, to your programs is an option for people who want to do something specialized in the third-year. third year training for those who want the volt general practice legal education that we have. it's great to train in the same way, someone who is doing routine divorces in a small town
in the midwest, and someone who is doing mergers and acquisitions and wall street. they have this have this one-size-fits-all model of legal education that is extremely x expensive. and this assumes that you can train everybody to do everything in the same way. unless it is to practice into states, i wouldn't trust myself to do a routine divorce. >> sunday night sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q&a. >> the fire department on new york has roughly 300 black firefighters among the ranks of 11,000. next, ginger adams otis discusses her book, firefight a century long battle to integrate new york's bravest. during this event, she was joined by some of the firefighters she wrote about. this is just over an hour.
>> good evening, welcome to green light bookstore. we are excited to have this event tonight as we welcome a discussion for the book firefight. also phones, ipads, anything that makes noise please silent or put on vibrate. books are for sale at the register and buy them plentifully so we can continue to do free events like this one. there will be a short reading and a panelists discussion, then assigning to follow. tonight's event is being filmed by c-span for book tv and we are honored to have them with us. please be aware you may be a bill for this event. we will be passing a microphone around for the question and answer period. please use a microphone to ask questions.
thanks for working with us on that. our speaker this evening is ginger adams otis, she is a is a journalist have been writing about new york city politics and the fdny for more than a decade. she is a staff friday and has written for the new york post, wnyc, the a t, bbc, national public radio and the village voice. her new book, firefight, century long battle is based on nearly ten years of reports. it traces the race of the first black firefighter 1919 to the massive discrimination lawsuit settled in 2014. at the center of this book, are stories of courage, about firefighters risking their lives in the line of duty but also risking their lives by battling an unjust system. otis shares of the state of the seatmate with this firefighters, all members of the balkan
society. the members here, all currently active firefighters also appear in the book, are paul washington , former president of the balkan society and michael marshall. former president and fdny advocate the discussion will be moderated by tom robbins who teaches at the school of journalism. he has written many highly us the claim stories. otis will reap from the book, powell by a discussion of the panelists and then we'll have time for discussion so please join me in
welcoming all these the people to the stage. [applause]. >> good evening, thank you for coming. thank you to green light bookstore for hosting us as well. and for c-span for covering this. in case you don't know who's who, that's tom, captain washington, lieutenant marshall. i'm going to do a quick reading for you tonight. i will pick up part way through the book, the book actually segues through two parts of the balkans history. , it leads in the story of the founder of the vulcan association, leslie williams who is one of the writers in manhattan. the third that we know department wide.
and how he found his way into the fire department. it also segues between his story and that this civil rights lawsuit they brought starting around 2005. so we are picking up in one of the chapters that deals with the history of paul and michael. this is when they used to go out in the '90s, and they would do what other balkans would do recruitment in the reese streets of brooklyn. their there god on the weekend with folding table and the corner and wobbly chairs, index cards and a face young looking at black person, usually male but i think they could some women who look particularly fit. they would try to get them to sign up and take a fire department test. many times the applicants they were approaching wanted to know what it was like in the firehouse. because they like the benefits,
$50,000 per year sounds pretty good, the pension sounds good, but what's sounds good, but what's going to happen to me when i get inside. so we'll start with the story of captain washington and what he would tell some of the guys who would ask him that question on the street corner. he would tell them stories about his days in engine seven and there's one particular incident when he was getting hayes as all the puppies too. there was a group of them who turn to a water on him and another firefighter, while their shooting hoops. paul didn't like that, he knew he was getting hayes but he thought the guy was running the hose was a little too enthusiastic so he decided he was going to get revenge even though a probe he was supposed to get what dished out not complain. so he waited a while and when the fire fired and question that he didn't like was at a table, reading a newspaper, he got a bucket of cold water
and snuck up behind him and he flipped the bucket over his head. the man shouts and the firefighters come running and everybody think it's funny and the guys angry as he sits there and pretends he is not bothered and is slipping through his wet newspaper. paul is pleased with himself as young people often get when they think they've outsmarted their elders, so we are picking up at that point. this is the story he's telling other people but were telling in real-time. so the young probe he was pleased with his revenge, but if he had been wiser in the ways of the firehouse he would have known that some form of retribution was coming. the senior firefighters couldn't let an upstart in the tables on one of their own no matter how funny the result. one night, not long after the bucket incident, washington ran upstairs to the peaceful firehouse to go to sleep around two am. 2:00 a.m. the night owl probe he usually kept night late hours. as
firehouse practice he left the lights off as he entered the black bunk room so not to wake the rest of the crew. he lay on his bed and closed his eyes. seconds later, a strain flopping sensation when over his face and chest, something was falling on him. he jumped up and ran to the bathroom, stopping devon caught his reflection in the mirror, he was covered in fluffy white dust. he coded his hair and shoulders. someone had raked up bag of flour over his bunk to spill on him when he laid down he realize. enraged he stormed into the next room where the older fire fire he dumped with water, and he was sure he was behind the late-night stunt. he said you think you got some kind of problem with me then get out and deal with it.
get up, i'll kick your he said. he cursed and called him names when the man refused to move. the rest of the house was silent as washington rage. he was so mad he went out to the kitchen and scrawled a message on the blackboard, call calling him a coward and a punk and coward and a punk and challenging him to step or admit what he did. after leaving it where everyone is seeing him in the morning, he returned to the bunk room and shower. it was later he learnt the man had nothing to do with the prank. everyone else in the firehouse had chortled under the blankets as he had flour all over him. when his sense sense of humor cover, he laughed about it too. what he didn't say to the young kids he was recruiting was that sometimes, the silly childless pranks they love to plan each other, and particularly in protease could go too far and take on a sharper more offensive edge. he didn't tell them that some particularly cruel firehouses with her designate a firehouse go to end the goal was to make him transfer out at the earliest opportunity. he didn't say that the firefighters would later crack
jokes about the inner-city communities they fear they served while black firefighters pretended not to hear. if washington had wanted to he could have told his potential recruits he was detailed to a firehouse detailed not far from his regular assignment. when he sat down for dinner he was the lone black man at a table of 11 whites. he listened to the lieutenant in charge, entertainment crew about his college-age daughter in the time she came home with a new set of friends including a young black male. the joke centered on the officers sister and thought that the two were dating. i got nothing abets against black people but it's really don't want my daughter to marry one he laughed. the table roared roared except for washington. who sent without moving. his mind flashed to the hundreds of black people living right
outside the firehouse doors. neither does a white firefighters were there eating with him and none of them heard anything wrong with what the officer said. what specifically do you like about your daughter marrying a block man yes question mark is it that you have sitdown with in-laws that are black? what exactly is the problem. the room was silent for a second and then the table and rubbed it as the men jumped into the pen the officer. washington gladly took them all on. it wasn't until 1992 when he got settled it crown heights. his cousin gary was also sign there. not only were there more fires, there are about four other blacks in the house too. there were none of that knockdown fights that erupted in the past firehouse and part because they're more blacks present and because fewer of the white firefighters had an appetite for that type of discussion. beyond that an officer who work frequently with washington, didn't tolerate that type of infighting.
boldly who stood about 5-foot 8'" washington discovered a rare kind of empathy, one that sought beyond color both inside and outside the firehouse. it wasn't a characteristic he found among many of the other white collects. the lieutenant always had a smile on his face and greeted everyone with respect to courtesy almost never lost his temper. washington never washing witnessed him exploding but he heard tales from others. he didn't gloss over the challenges that black firefighters face. the pair often met up to chat about racial relations in the city, the many ways in which they could feel isolated and alone in the job. there one or two firefighters that washington light into 34, guys who crack jokes with, but he didn't open up about race with anybody except for boldly.
and they're quite moments together the two men reached an affinity that created a firehouse bond that washington didn't have a never expected with other white firefighters. once, when washington was detailed to a nearby firehouse he got into a brutal fight with a firefighter wet her reputation as a troublemaker. washington always found avoiding him the easiest to deal with him. after a few hours on the detail, when there's a break between runs, washington went upstairs and stretched out on the bunk, he wasn't aware of, time had last. they screamed his name where of you been. were looking for you. there's a phone call for you and were calling your name over the speaker in europe here taken a nap. i had a kick your. washington leapt from the bed, yeah go ahead you think you're a bad back, go ahead and do it. that's all he got out before the firefighter who easily weighed over two and 30 pounds, lunch forward.
he wrapped his hands around washington's neck trying to choke him, he twisted and spun the firefighter round and shoved him backward on the bed. when he fell, washington pounced but even sitting on the firefighter's chest, it took chest, it took every ounce of stress to keep the big man pet pinned. washington struggled to hit them hard in the face, the firefighter blocked his punches with his forearms. they jumped off the bed still wrestling, everything happened in less than one minute and they were exhausted, trembling for the the intensity of the fight. when the fire alarm went off, they stood glaring, groping for air. a few seconds later washington was on the back is his truck, the other man was really from his shift and went home. by the time washington got back to his own fire house, word had
a ready arrived, gossip inside the fdny ran faster than most planes. telling graph, telephone, tello firefighter. he waved away the chatter and didn't want to rehash the whole thing. a few weeks later he learned the troublemaker have been removed, transferred out of the house, issued a fallen issued a fallen to the officers of the company to meet but none of them bothered with any disciplinary action. the transfer request had come from lieutenant boldly who quietly made phone calls and put in the firm word. he never brought it up and it was something they'd never had to discuss. paul, these guys ain't never gonna like you, you're just too proud to be in black the lieutenant said. washington had laughed recognizing his mother's his mother's attitude in the truth of those words. row 1995 he five he was promoted to captain and was diagnosed with cancer.
as washington learned during the hospital visits to boldly it didn't diminish his spirits. during one of his talks he surprised washington with a get. here, i want you to have these stretching out his hand. the young firefighter sought to pieces of silver, his lieutenant bars. goldie knew that he had taken the exam and his promotion was eminent. one set of bars handed down from an officer to another is a special token. washington was touched and proud that boldly wanted to share with him. when he made lieutenant it was bold these bars and that signified his new rank. in washington's experience there few white men like goldie and the fire department or elsewhere but he never had a promising young black recruits that if they took the job they would not regret it. the vulcans would be there every step of the way. you would never have to worry
about being alone. and it was 100% the truth. their organization have. their organization have been forged out of the races of the jim crow era when few blacks were brave enough to try out for the job endured terrible treatment. the vulcans were founded so that no other firefighter will feel as vulnerable in the fire house as he did. [applause]. so we have been joined by regina wilson who will join us in a minute. she is the first woman to hold the office of president of the vulcans society. she has been busy working. [applause]. i will turn it over to tom.
>> good evening, it's a really good night to have this discussion. any night would be a good night because this is something that doesn't get talked about very much in new york. it's it's a good time. but i didn't realize when ginger asked me to do this that today is metal day. for years i covered city hall and city politics, you see a lot of nonsense that goes on around town. one of the wonderful things that happen every year is the first wednesday of june, they empty out the entire plaza in front of city hall, flakes, buntings, bagpipers, bagpipers, everybody shows up in their dress uniforms.
the chiefs and their big white hats and white gloves, family show up, up, it's a really marvelous, wonderful occasion. they gather together to honor all of the acts of true bravery by firefighters in emergency service. they go through one by one, i wasn't there this year but i looked at the pictures. it struck me again as it had the first time i thought that this is the model of what a proud civic occasion a city would have. let's honor the the people who risk their lives to go into building burning buildings to help us when something happens. i looked at the picture differently this time because i was thinking of this event and i thought about how even though it is this wonderful occasion the crowd there doesn't look like most of new york still. it looks like part of new york. but it doesn't look the new york
pleased to meet you. would you setwould you set the stage for us? the newly elected president. what are the numbers like? what are we looking at in terms of the proportion of african -- african-american, white, hispanic firefighters >> currently african-american, 6 percent. were getting a six. after seven 5 percent. every other a group that is of color is under 1 percent, and women are .5 percent.
seventy-five years later were working to make a lot of these changes happen. the numbers of progressively moving out. i ami am hoping that we prickett -- that we surpassed 6 percent. they are working diligently to change those numbers. >> a firefighter since 1999. >> yes. >> you have seen some changes. do you feel that as a result people who don't no kemal out of this book is about a legal case that was filed to try to address this inequity. >> i think because of the lawsuit that is when the department had an opportunity to seize the most minorities come out of the class. the last -- all of most of
most of the classes we have had have been record numbers in history. so our last class had about 53 african americans african-americans alone which is one of the highest numbers that we have ever had. so we are making strides. our numbers are growing. because of the lawsuit this is why it has been a possibility. and as for women the original amount of women that came in was 41, 46 now. we are still hoping to make great strides. it's because strides. it's because of the lawsuit we have been able to get a lot more numbers and due to the hard work of these two gentlemen right here and the rest of the society members that have participated. >> one more question before i let you go because i heard you say this.
whether or not people who feel that. the test is very competitive. how high a number in order to pass, and order to be eligible to be called for this department? >> that is one of the biggest misconceptions. it even goes that way with some of the firefighters. some of the firefighters in this test were obsessed with the test lowering of standards. you like yes. for the fire department your not going to get hired. you can't say to someone failed the test because they got a 90. failed the test because they
got an 80. they just failed to get hired. when you have african-americans who may not be in the top of maybe of the middle they are at the bottom. that doesn't necessarily mean they fail the test. this is some of the reasons we saw the disparate impact the way the test was structured it was not getting minorities affair advantage of taking this test. >> a lot of people are lined up to take this test. thousands of people every time. there's a reason for that. these are good jobs, solid
jobs, stable jobs. you have this wonderful it seems like those of us to work a 40 hour week, i condensed work week that is a logic to pursue other things in your off time. in addition there is something else that is a trickle-down effect that all of the families that have been lucky enough to have firefighters both mf family and community, that is important as to why this is really meaningful for the african-american community. youcommunity. you came from firefighting family and understand this. tell us a little bit about the importance. what does it mean to have firefighters in the family and community. >> first thing i want to say is i have some of my kids
are today. all of those. if you're not familiar with our good the job is a lot of times you don't strive to do it. that's an advantage people don't have. so i was inspired by them. it made it clear to me that this was something that i could do. my older cousins is well. as a huge advantage. for anyone to claim they have a family member on a job. that's a huge advantage.
hundreds of thousands have that advantage. no question about it. >> what does it mean to the neighborhood to have folks, your uncle, dad to like coming home off the trucks, just in the uniforms or whatever they did. >> people in the community. even when they see firefighters buying a house call people in the neighborhood are just proud of it. they like to see it. the company that i work in. they really like it.
>> and what made you become a firefighter? >> well, i just went and took all the tests. i was doing construction work. i started construction when i was 18. back then there was no early retirement. you cannot return to 65. i came up with construction work. the only two things i knew about this job was that there was a 20 year pension and you did not get laid off. i took it on that alone. i didn't believe the twenty-year pension thing._job security.think. new line job security. i didn't have a lot of bills. i was making decent money. i take a drop in pay to come on.
some of the well-paying traits. i realize you could apply that phrase to the fire department. i've heard you say, lieut., the fire department does not change very quickly. it has a hard time a change. just tell us about that. >> they never want to change, they don't believe they can change and have don't believe they can change and have to be forced to change. certain hiring about this new test we picked up almost 200 blacks. they were at 300 from us 20 years. in the years. in the short time we doubled our numbers.
so it can be done. the job is so against change. all the commissioners that we had over that time, nobody was willing to take the step the worst culprit. they give different types of modernized exams. the fire department sticking with the same exam over and over and over and would not change. >> if i could say something as well having a good, enforceable once residency.
we knew about what the problems were and have always breath his problems to the attention of the fire department who was never a problem where they did not no it had to be done but they did not want to do it and make could make them do it. but we finally did was not only bring a lawsuit brought media attention to it and a lot of political power to bear and that is how i got changed, but there are better ways to bring blacks and women and people of color and of the fire department them what is now become, and it is good the way that it is. they never just want to sit down with us and reason with us and come up with a solution. we had to force them to do it. all of this came from the society. we get a lot of credit, but it truly was a grassroots effort, but it was only that society. the hispanic society in the women's organization not only did not join us in the lawsuit but they did not join us in the other actions
we were taking. listed as far away from us as they could. they wanted to be safe and nice and so on more benefits than us. hispanics are coming out of a job at a high percentage. and they did absolutely nothing to bring this around. city hall, the mayor, the commission, they knew what they had to do.do. he met a couple times. and the tuna marshals well. and mayor bloomberg's aides always like to brag about the fact that he was a cut above other politicians because he was data-driven. he only paid attention to the numbers. but somehow when he told him
that there was such a 50 percent of the city was black and hispanic and there was a much lower number in that apartment he did not get those numbers apparently at one point when the judge in brooklyn was rolling he said this is the craziest thing he has ever heard. what did you make of mayor bloomberg's response to your efforts to get him to come around under question how much we wanted to see the change, the entire society.
we 1st bought an eeoc complaint. that complaint was substantiated, and the eeoc said okay, fire department and vulcan sit down and work this problem out. theout. the fire department refused to come to the table to talk about it. and they went to the justice department. investigator for about two years and found the same thing and said the same thing the fire department, sit down and work this out only will bring a lawsuit and they still refuse to do it, and that is how we ended up with the lawsuit because they just refuse to listen to reason. >> he clearly underestimated you. i guess the thing that i wonder as reporters, do you feel that city hall understood there was a problem that needed to be fixed but was afraid to do it?
>> they had to understand the problem. the numbers alone showed you that there was a problem. it was notit was not only bloomberg, the mayors and people who had ran the form. they had to know what the problem was. it wasn't only us telling them it was the practices commission had wrote aa scathing report. other politicians it contacted them and written letters. it was not just us. it was everybody, and it was obvious. when you looked at the list, they gave these exams and look to see where minorities were all blacks were always in the middle. it wasit was just obvious, list after list after list. we only sued for the last two, but the list before that, just wanted to. it wasn't like they didn't know. everybody knew it and then there were other things.
>> also just listening to ginger one of the things ginger said she tried to do as a reporter is to figure out from city hall why to this day she doesn't even no why they decided to go forward with this lawsuit and looking at the number. still don't know why and one of the reasons might have come close to an explanation was the gentleman from the chiefs the said he thinks that bloomberg might have been pushing the fact that we said that the department intentionally discriminated, and he probably was so defiant against having that label on him and his administration that that was probably part of the reason that they fought back. to this day we don't know why and they losing every time we would, something they would lose. got up there and explained
how there procedures were and saw. they losing every time. they just kept pushing being indignant. what we call long and strong >> trying to say one thing. when i went through a discovery in the lawsuit in 1999, they could have mounted challenges even earlier. but the preparation of that test there was a fire department official who wrote a memo and it's all their black and white writing to the agency. so somebody within the fire department tried to raise a flag and say we have had
complaints about this. there were allegations. has anybody looked into it. it. and there was no answer, nothing in the record, no response to that. normally they cut off rate is 70. that year for reasons that have never been made clear they went and set the passing rated 84 .65. even then got a memo and said your going to be hurting minorities even more because they tend to be an abandon the high '80s. that is even compounding the problem, and they did it anyway. >> let's talk for a couple of minutes before we opened up. ginger opened with this incredibly gripping story about to washington as a
young peruvian starting out in what he encountered. some of the stuff in the book about the casual use of the n-word around the station house,, some of the stuff that other people think, i got called an ethnic slur. i am curious, what is it like now? a lot more craftier. >> the fire department is a microcosm of america. things are much more subtle.subtle. it's just much more subtle than it was in the past. >> i have to agree with that. >> and people look at you?
>> just like to washington said it is subtlety. the last person i got called the n-word when approached they said i said neighbor. >> close, no cigar. >> we started out going, what it means. when you come in in my files, 13 of us. as always 13 firefighters on duty. three or four are black and three or four hispanic you have a whole different hemisphere.
one person of color one woman it's a lot harder. ultimately enough of us coming on the job. >> there has been blowback as well. stories in new york post fairly regularly over the last few months of the people who they say got in because of the lawsuit should not be on the job. a steady stream of anonymous folks who are supposed to allegedly, the fellow firefighters, lowered the standards.
what's going on here. should i be concerned as a citizen? >> i think that not every one that is on the fire department is 100%. nobody is 100%. there are people that no they job and no their job well. there are some that no their job and some of the don't really know there job. but i think that the no a job. but i think that the level of performance and excellence is the majority of the job. so with every job you have people that don't really hone in on their craft. they are they're and come to work. but to speaking, this is just really weird to me. one of the things we arewe're having a problem within the department is the leaking of information. you know, you are hearing, you know, stuff that is really precise about people's numbers in the scores and violating people, you know, what's going on in a time and training. so the leaks they definitely have
to take care of. ifof. if you read these articles you will see, it's only with people of color and women. you cannot tell me that way people do not do things that are not always done correctly. you have to judge the person as they come and not just consider a person of color. they talk about johnson now. he is a priority higher. what do we do to look at what we are doing. they don't know what johnson story is. did the post ever put in an article about jordan sullivan? they have a metal today. >> it's about jordan sullivan. >> worked in 105 to 19 and had to five you save your child out of a burning
building, got a right of the new york times has been recognized by a lot of different agencies, and today he received the medal. he is someone who came through the society. we helped train him and got him -- we collectively help to get him on the job, but he definitely worked hard to do he was diligent and precise about what he wanted and went after it. due to the fact that he trained hard he received a metal today. does the post right about that? there are a few people that are priority hires that have gotten medals and on priority ask your renown no one can say that priority higher score people on the job can't do it. theseit. these people have a lot more knowledge of the world and how it really works and no the responsibilities of having a job. if you are going to print it, printed right. >> fair enough. >> we are going to open it up for folks who would like to ask questions. i don't know if there is aa mike they're would like to be passed around.
shoot up your hand if we will pass to the mic. >> is going to correct something that his brother said. >> not right now. >> mike, paul, virginia, you should be applauded. the events in these type of issue since you came on the job. you brought it so far forward. appmack. >> and i have a question for the author. i'm surprised you had to use such rough language in a firehouse. ginger, what got you interested in the fire department and particularly this issue and what is your next project? >> retiring. from writing. i don't have a firefighter pension, so i we will be working for a long time.a
long time. i was assigned to cover the fire department. and ii thought i would get a great education. one of the 1st press conferences was the society. it was a fascinating story and i was so naïve about the city and how it worked in civil service that it was all brand-new and i thought it was fascinating and covered it for about ten years. >> and we are glad you didn't put together the book. who else? >> thank you so much for your service. my grandfather was a firefighter. i was there the other day because we had a death in the family.
what it was like before and after. feel that maybe some of this pushback and negative reporting is coming from kind of like a feeling that maybe it is bringing down the reputation of fdny around the world post- 911 due to the issues that have been going on for many years >> well, sometimes they use 911 as an excuse. ourour image across the world, new york city fire department is so high that it is a shame are saying all these bad things about the fire department and bringing the image down, but that is just an excuse. >> you are somebody, somebody who you help recruit. >> a person i lost on 9/11 that i was the closest to was key forkeith roy maynard, really great guy that came to us, training classes and so on and join
the volcker in society on the executive board.board. he was a great guy. his girlfriend was my wife's best friend. it was very sad when he passed away. that was always one of my biggest fears. somebody i helped get onto the job would pass away. so it was very difficult. >> i just wanted to piggyback. i think that during all of this time and also with the department, people have a tendency when the victim and not blame the person who had done in the 1st place. people need to take a look at the fire department. department. don't look at the people
that were on. north people deserve to have a quality of life. i just want to go to work, go home command of a vacation, have a great quality of life i don't want to have a hostile environment. i just want to work, do what i want to do, go home i want to do, go home and take care of myself. you can't blame the people who were victimized. you have to see it for what it is an understand and stop blaming the victim. >> yes. myyes. my name is josé garcia. i just recently retired after 35 years on the job. i just wanti just want to let everyone no exactly what the process was. we initially started trying
to enter at the fire department in new york city. but we did was recruitment. everyone talks about recruitment, recruitment, recruitment. back in 99 the budget of the new york city fire department was about one billion. i spent 1 million on recruitment, less spent 1 million on recruitment, less than 1 percent. we know where the heart was at. we noted there was a dramatic change. let's see what we can do. as far as merit is concerned , we had to individuals that were charged for second-degree murder. those two individuals were allowed to come on. we always heard about merit. in that respect when you argue with some of these guys, if you talk about merit how do you let two individuals try for second-degree murder whether found innocent or not,not, and anyone that has been around realize that case destroyed a lot of faith in
the judicial system so this is what were dealing with. when you mention bloomberg, he went from $4 billion when he came in to become mayor when he left and turn the city charter he was worth $35$35 billion. this is what we came across. keep in mind once the door closes that's a whole different world. they'll use that title. behind the red door. once a title. behind the red door. once a closes your on your own.
>> that is josé garcia. head ofgarcia. head of the hispanic society did stand with the vulcans. unfortunately he was not present during the bulk of their lawsuit. i we will note that post-9/11 there was a lot of emotion and there were some public cases of drinking on the job, some emotional outbursts, things that were making the papers. and they were not any claims of threats to public safety at that time. commissioner stepanek, the problem, they have lunch at a zero-tolerance policy. you handled it in-house and your officers and brothers recovered for you, they make
sure you did not get in trouble. after that he said forget it. now if your caught you come forward and say you have a problem and recent you to rehab. if you get caught drucker doing drugs you lose your job which made him unpopular. that decision was unpopular. there has always been up until recently a problem with some firefighters of drinking on the job.job. it is not new. it was a problem in 1986, a man who is found drunk in duty in his firehouse and did they get in trouble and the recommendation was that he loses job in the fire department would not fire him. a suspended him and find him and no one talked about threats to public safety. there is a lot that goes on a does not come out until you force it out.
>> i wouldi would like to follow up on that and tom's question about are we safe with the ways in which firefighters are selected. i we willselected. i will preface it by saying i run a writing program and to give a writing test my hire people and learn 30 years ago not to rank people on the test, that while writing skills were important i had to make a cut off. thenthen look at a lot of other factors. it's not a writing program. it sounds to me like a system was created that in a way filtered white people in so they're are a lot of people who probably maybe should not be they're but should be the case in my program.
and i wonder, should i feel safe? do you feel that there are too many people who got in through her cronyism system that may be really should not be there, or to those people once they get into the job step up to it? >> i think your safe to make a long story short. especially if you live in crown heights. [applause] a lot of ways the people were brought on, the nepotism that existed did result in people coming out of the job should not have been there.
there are seven of us on the job are or were on the job and some of us came in because father said you have to take the test. maybe somebody else had a problem, and that has existed for 150 years. to pretend that everything is based on merit and is fair and everything was based on merit and was fair, it's just a joke. >> i. >> i learned so much reading your book. the prb. there were a couple of stories that amazed me in terms of the person who ran the prb said in a deposition for lawsuit that they encouraged people to knew applicants to step forward and say i know him or her or i no their family and they are good people. >> yes. the hiring process was kind of incredible.
what you alluded to, it's an important but subtle peemack. the fire department was giving tests because they have 40,000 people applying for about 3000 jobs. they did not have to worry about recruitment. so this is the system they used. they did not system they used. they did not worry. the fact that it was netting more people of color, you know, hey, those who really want to forget on which was there de facto attitude. >> an interesting way of keeping records. >> they did not keep records. even if you then did score high enough and got on the job and got through, even if you got through that written test you had to get through your background, medical, and whoever was in charge found suspicious you might be referred for review. what happened was anybody's guess because they did not follow human resources guidelines or have best practices are keep notes or memos.
they did not track who went and went before the board and what was the outcome and what did come out to the lawsuit deposition was that it was common and encouraged for someone who knew a candidate who had been referred for review to come forward and say that guys a buddy of mine and i'm going to take care of him. the woman who testified said there was a lot of domestic violence. he was drunk on a saturday night. but he's a good guy. these things were happening. when the lawsuit was progressing the intentional discrimination got to the court on appeal. the city's lawyer criticized the arguments and said they could not even make a good case. i went to the lawyers