Retired African American city firefighters Donald Day and Ron Mackey, both of whom took on City Hall to increase the hiring of minorities and females in the department in the 1980s and 1990s, assert in this joint commentary the city’s testing policy has set back the demographic makeup of uniform services. Civil Service Personnel Director David Dunn with whom they’ve had a running battle for decades responds the city’s more representative of its demographic makeup than ever. What follows are two exclusive commentaries, the first from Day and Mackey, then a rejoinder from Dunn, which provide arguably the first public debate involving their respective passionate positions after decades of behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
It’s been six years since Lennie Grimaldi wrote the headline, ‘Hatchet job … gutless, spineless’: The Firing of Ralph Jacobs’. This article alluded to the firing of Civil Service Director Ralph Jacobs and the power grab by former Mayor Bill Finch for jobs for political supporters. In this article Lennie stated “The reason for Jacobs’ firing is a bunch of hooey.” He was dumped because he would not play ball with Finch in filling civil service positions with political supporters and he persuaded the commissioners that Jacobs was a pain in the ass who had to go. See here.
Finch, who filled Jacobs’ slot with his own person in an acting capacity to help fill some civil service vacancies with political supporters, appointed David Dunn, former director of labor relations. In his article Lennie states, “This is a nice time to take care of his political peeps.” Jacobs hired former Mayor Tom Bucci to represent him and Tom called Civil Service President Eleanor Guedes’ decision to oust Jacobs gutless. This is relevant today because Mayor Joe Ganim has continued the current same gutless appointment of Finch by leaving David Dunn as Director of Civil Service. We give Finch a free ride on his appointment because he was a fool, but not Mayor Ganim who knows better because this isn’t his first rodeo.
We would suspect Mayor Ganim’s reasoning is the same as former Mayor Finch, leaving David Dunn in the position he filled under Finch so he could do for Ganim what he did for Finch, hire his political supporters. There are other reasons for Mayor Ganim leaving David Dunn in a position for which he has no experience, MONEY. David Dunn as director of Civil Service has changed the hiring and promotional systems that were put into place that insured blacks and women were hired and given a fair exam when it came to promotions. Under Dunn the policies that insured these systems were adhered to were changed because he found a way to do it for cheap while denying blacks and women the inherent right to be Bridgeport firefighters.
Mayor Ganim, you know leaving David Dunn in the position of Director of Civil Service is wrong, immoral and unjust. You know he is ill-equipped and inexperienced to do the job of Director of Civil Service yet you leave him in this position. Mayor Ganim, you know the policies of David Dunn lead to no blacks being hired for the Bridgeport Fire Dept. For the first time in 40 years they led to no women being hired for the Bridgeport Fire Dept. and yet he stays. Mayor Ganim, you know the policies of David Dunn led to the Bridgeport Police Dept. not hiring blacks for the first time in almost 50 years and yet he stays. Where in hell is the outrage of the black council men and women to this travesty of justice? Where is the outrage of our elected officials in Hartford to the policies that have shut the door of opportunity for blacks and women in both the police and fire departments? More importantly, where in hell is Joe Ganim in all of this and why is he now kicking the black community in the ass when we all know it was the black community that first embraced him and his run for redemption that put him back into office and finally, Brothers and Sisters, why aren’t you holding his ass accountable?
David Dunn response:
Detailed below and attached are responses from the Civil Service Department for the City of Bridgeport regarding the allegations made by Ronald Mackey and Donald Day, two retired Bridgeport Firefighters, regarding the changes they allege have been made in the testing processes for entry level and promotional exams for Police Officers and Firefighters in the City of Bridgeport since 2009.
First and foremost, the City of Bridgeport is absolutely committed to hiring diverse and highly qualified candidates to be Police Officers and Firefighters. The City continues to pursue its goals of hiring residents and has enhanced the residency preference process so that qualified residents benefit with an additional 15% of their final score. As detailed below, in the most recent Police department hiring class, 27 out of 29 new hires are Bridgeport residents. In addition, the diversity makeup is representative of the citizens of the City of Bridgeport.
Attached are exhibits with bullet points and data regarding the two Police department entry level exams conducted in 2010 and 2015 and the 2011 Fire department entry level exam.
In addition to those exams, there are also bullet points and information attached regarding 13 Fire department promotional exams conducted between 2010 and 2015 and 5 Police department promotional exams conducted during the same time period.
Further, attached are cost breakdowns paid by the City of Bridgeport for Police Officer and Firefighter entry level exams. The 2011 Firefighter exam cost the City $79,135.00. The 2011 Police Officer exam cost $79,284.00 and the expenditures to date for the 2015 Police Officer exam total $53,765.00. Mackey and Day allege that the City has “nickel and dimed” the process and spent only $10,000.00 since 2009. Just the opposite is true; in fact the City has spent over $212,000.00 plus administrative costs such as proctor costs and site rentals, etc. to conduct entry level examinations in compliance with the “Uniform Employee Selection Guidelines” required by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice of the United States Federal Government. Many, if not all, of Bridgeport’s past problems with entry level examinations have been because the City did not follow the Federal guidelines for hiring, particularly as it relates to exam content and candidate passing scores.
Contrary to Mackey and Day’s allegations, there have been no findings or challenges to the validity, content, or the integrity of the City of Bridgeport Police and Fire entry level test processes that have been conducted since 2009 under the reorganized Civil Service department.
Apparently Mackey and Day are stuck back in the 1970s and 1980s and are having a great deal of difficulty with the 21st century hiring realities. Unbeknownst to them, the Civil Service department is not the same place it was over 20 years ago when they were active duty firefighters; it is a different organization–directed and managed to modern, updated hiring standards required by the 21st century local government.
Promotional Exams since 2010 Police department and Fire department
Since 2010, 13 promotional examinations have been conducted in the Bridgeport Fire Department. For the first time in many years if not decades, the City of Bridgeport is up to date with its obligations to conduct timely promotional examinations when it is required to. The 13 promotional examinations since 2010 are:
o Fire Equipment Mechanic (2010)
o Fire Inspector (2011)
o Fire Marshall (2010)
o Fire Assistant Chief (2011)
o Senior Fire Inspector (2011)
o Deputy Fire Marshall (2011)
o Fire Captain (2012)
o Fire Lieutenant (2012)
o Fire Pumper Engineer (2012)
o Fire Deputy Chief (2012)
o Fire Assistant Chief (2014)
o Fire Inspector (2014)
o Fire Captain (2015)
In addition, in planning for 2016, which will be announced as soon as the department requests the examinations are:
o Fire Lieutenant 2016
o Fire Pumper Engineer 2016
The data and evidence present a contrary view to Day and Mackey’s allegations. All of the City’s Police and Fire testing processes have been fair to all ethnic, racial and gender groups who have taken the exams. The Police department entry level examination process has been conducted with the input and review of the Bridgeport Police Department Guardians Association, including its attorneys and testing consultants.
In the Police department since 2011, there have been five promotional exams:
0 Deputy Police Chief 2011
0 Police Lieutenant 2013
0 Police Sergeant 2013
0 Police Detective 2014
0 Police Captain 2015
The testing and exam lists are also up to date in the Police department for the first time in many years, and except for an issue concerning one candidate’s seniority eligibility to take the 2015 Captain examination, and a candidate’s protocol process claim during the 2014 Detective examination, there have been no findings or challenges to the validity, content, or integrity of the promotional testing process for the Police department exams that have been conducted since 2011.
Currently there is an on-going Firefighter recruitment and application process. All candidates must have a CPAT certificate/credential before they may apply to take the Bridgeport Firefighter test. CPAT is an acronym for Candidate Physical Ability Test and it is a complete physical ability test designed by the Fire Service and administered in Connecticut by the State of Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks, CT. Candidates are allowed 5 tries to pass the CPAT test. The CPAT test consists of 8 physical exercises that simulate physical requirements of a working professional Firefighter. This test was created through a joint labor management cooperative developed by the International Association of Firefighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the 2 most prominent professional firefighting organizations in the United States. This test has also met the validity criteria of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States Department of Labor.
The CPAT is gender and race neutral. It is a rigorous physical test and candidates must be physically fit in order to pass it. The City of Bridgeport also accepts CPAT certifications/credentials/licenses issued by other states or testing agencies throughout the United States. During the 2011 Firefighter entrance examination over 1,000 candidates had current CPAT certifications from as far away as California and Florida and from many other states.
The City of Bridgeport adopted the CPAT testing requirements-on the recommendation of the OSHA investigation conducted by the Department of Labor following the tragic workplace deaths of Lt. Steven Valasquez and Firefighter Mitchell Baik that occurred in July, 2010. The adoption of CPAT physical fitness testing was recommended and approved by the Bridgeport Fire Department Safety and Productivity Committee (a joint labor management committee), the Fire Chief, the Fire department Board of Commissioners and the Civil Service Commission. CPAT testing in the City of Bridgeport has been in place since 2011, an on-line video of the CPAT testing is available at www.ct.gov/cfpd or it can be “Googled” or reviewed on “YouTube” under CPAT test.
Candidates who possess a CPAT certification issued since January 2015 are eligible to apply to take the Bridgeport Firefighter examination scheduled later in the Spring of 2016.
Since the CPAT examination costs candidates $150.00 the City of Bridgeport and the Bridgeport Fire Department issued 200 CPAT vouchers to pay the $150.00 CPAT fee for Bridgeport residents who have evidence of a financial or economic hardship.
Mackey and Day also allege that the City of Bridgeport has not hired “any blacks” for the first time in 40 years in the Fire department and 50 years in the Police department. They further allege that “less Bridgeport residents” have been hired and more white suburban males have been hired in both departments. Again, the contrary is true, the racial, ethnic and gender breakdown for the Police department hiring 2010 class is:
7 African Americans
1 Native American
21 Bridgeport residents
For the current 2016 hiring class in the Police Department, the breakdown is:
29 new hires; 27 Bridgeport residents
7 African American males
9 Hispanic males
2 two or more races
4 Caucasian males
The breakdown for the 2011 Firefighter exam is:
41 new hires; 28 are residents
6 African Americans
To summarize, a review of the attached exhibits and evidence will show that Ronald Mackey and Donald Day are incorrect and are not adjusting to the testing realities of the 21st century. They are stuck back in the 1970s and 1980s. The City of Bridgeport has updated and improved testing in the Police and Fire departments. It is now compliant with the federal testing guidelines in both entry level and promotional examinations. Both departments have up to date promotional lists for most ranks, and for future ranks that become vacant a test will be developed promptly and candidates will be tested. As for entry level examinations, again, the City is compliant with federal guidelines. These testing practices have been modernized and updated. All candidates tested for either the Police department or Fire department must pass physical fitness requirements before they can take the examination.