Chief Leader - June 19, 2012by SARAH DORSEY
Mr. Garaufis approved Mark Cohen's charges the day after he received them. The monitor submitted his first two-month bill in March, for more than $310,000.
Monitor Could Cost $20 Million
Mr. Cardozo complained then that he wasn't given an itemized statement that would indicate whether the fees were reasonable, and Mr. Garaufis responded that the decision was his alone. He later ordered the city to pay and to stop asking for itemized bills.
Judge Garaufis appointed Mr. Cohen to ensure that the Fire Department's hiring process wasn't biased against people of color, after ruling last year that it had been intentionally discriminating against them for decades.
The bill was for 633 hours of work conducted by Mr. Cohen and his team at rates of $650 and $415 per hour. Mr. Cardozo in a June 6 letter questioned why more than half the hours were billed at the higher rate, and whether too many lawyers sat in on meetings, raising costs.
"At this rate city taxpayers will be charged approximately $2 million a year for services that under the Court's order are to last for ten years," he wrote.
Twice the Minority Applicants
The Judge threw out the last three Firefighter exams as racially biased in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007. The FDNY began administering tests again in March after a Special Master helped develop a new exam that Mr. Garaufis deemed more job-related.
In May, Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano announced that nearly half of this year's test-takers were people of color, compared to 37 percent in 2007. Increased recruiting efforts helped boost the number who completed the exam, from 22,363 to 42,161, with blacks and Latinos more than doubling their totals. More women also applied than took the previous three tests combined.
The city has appealed Judge Garaufis's ruling, calling his decision "one-sided" and dubbing him an advocate for the Vulcan Society of black firefighters, whose discrimination complaint spurred the suit.