Archive for August 17th, 2014

Chicago hiring policy creates controversy

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a potential challenge from firefighters to the new hiring preference for the CFD.

A group of Chicago firefighters has hired a lawyer in anticipation of a possible legal challenge to a city hiring policy that will give graduates of Chicago public high schools an advantage in an upcoming fire department exam.

The firefighters say the preferential hiring practice that will affect the December exam should be extended to all Chicago residents, including those who, like the children of many firefighters and city workers, attended private high schools. Their legal fight is funded by a $20,000 donation from Firefighters Union Local 2.

The situation points to the competing political constituencies Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces as he approaches his re-election bid in February. Emanuel doesn’t want to anger firefighters, especially so soon after announcing a new contract with the union that was passed overwhelmingly by rank-and-file firefighters and the city council. He also is loath to pick a fight with voters who choose private schools for their children, among them many of the city workers who are required to live in Chicago.

At the same time, the mayor needs to repair a relationship with African-American and Hispanic voters that has eroded since his first election thanks to factors including persistent violent crime and his push to close schools, a move that mostly affected minority neighborhoods.

Given the large minority enrollment at Chicago Public Schools, it makes political sense for Emanuel to stick up for giving preferential hiring treatment to CPS graduates. He did just that following a city council meeting last month, saying he wants “the goal of CPS attendance of schools to be a credit so the diversity of the city, the strength of that diversity, is represented in the workforce of the city.”

The Emanuel administration instituted the hiring standards that favored CPS graduates for many municipal jobs in 2012. The Department of Human Resources was directed to “ensure that a minimum of 20 percent of the candidates referred for a position that has the CPS hiring consideration are CPS graduates.” The rule was met with applause by some aldermen and became an accepted element of city hiring until it became clear that the preference would be applied to the Chicago Fire Department entrance exam in December, the first such exam offered since 2006.

Chicago Fire Department Lt. Peter O’Sullivan said he and other firefighters hired an attorney because of the outcry inside the department and from Chicago residents who aren’t firefighters but have now realized the children they sent to private high schools will have a tougher time making it on the hiring list.

Only about 9 percent of CPS students are white, according to the district. O’Sullivan dismissed any suggestion that opposition to the city policy is racially motivated.

O’Sullivan lives in the far Southwest Side Mount Greenwood neighborhood, an enclave of firefighters and other city workers. His son graduated from nearby St. Rita Catholic high school and plans to take the fire department test. “So now he’s going to be at a disadvantage,” O’Sullivan said.

Firefighter David Quintavalle’s son and daughter attended Marist High School, a Catholic school in Mount Greenwood. He said it was a decision he made “because of my religious beliefs.”

Michelle Adamowski, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, said the city’s Catholic high schools can help provide the diverse pool of applicants for city jobs sought by Emanuel.

According to Adamowski, 13 of Chicago’s 20 Catholic high schools have a student population that is more than 50 percent minority, and about half of the total student population of Chicago Catholic high schools is minority.

On the far Northwest Side, another area packed with city workers, Ald. Mary O’Connor, 41st, said residents have been pulling her aside for weeks at block parties to complain about the city’s preferential treatment for CPS graduates.

“Many of these people have made significant sacrifices to send their children to parochial schools, while their property taxes go to support CPS,” O’Connor said. “I respect what the mayor is trying to do, but my position is that this is unfair.”

O’Connor and Southwest Side aldermen Matthew O’Shea, 19th, and Marty Quinn, 13th, sent a letter this week to Soo Choi, commissioner of the City Department of Human Resources, asking to meet to find “middle ground.”

Emanuel spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier declined to comment on a potential lawsuit by firefighters, but noted in an e-mail that “the hiring preference encourages Chicago Public School students to stay in school and get their diploma so they are prepared for college and a career.”

Another article describes how some Chicago aldermen also object to the new hiring plan:

Chicago aldermen sent a letter to the human resources commissioner blasting a city hiring policy that gives preference to Chicago Public School graduates.

Aldermen Matt O’Shea (19th), Marty Quinn (13th) and Mary O’Connor (41st) expressed their concern to Chicago Department of Human Resources Commissioner Soo Choi that the city’s policy created an “unfair hurdle to interested candidates that based on all other merits being equal, are now being viewed as less preferable.”

The aldermen’s three wards respectively cover neighborhoods where a high number of Chicago police, firefighters and other city workers historically reside per the city’s residency requirement. The aldermen take issue with the practice — announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel two years ago — that would give a leg up to CPS graduates applying for city jobs.

With the city preparing to take applications for the Chicago Fire Department for the first time in a decade, some lifelong city residents say the policy discriminates against graduates from Catholic and private schools, notes Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown.

Southwest Side alderman O’Shea and Quinn, and their Northwest Side colleague O’Connor, raise alarm over the potentially discriminatory policy in their letter to Choi:

“Our residents represent a rich tradition of City employees, public safety safety workers, and educators that would like their children to be afforded equal opportunity for employment … Many parents in our community make significant sacrifices to pay for parochial school education. In doing so, they continue to pay property taxes nearly half of which fund a school system that their children do not attend. To treat one group of tax-paying residents differently could be viewed as unfair.”

The aldermen state that while the CPS hiring preference is an internal policy not subject to city council vote, all taxpayers should be considered equal when hiring for city jobs.

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) tells Brown that those complaining about being penalized for exercising their religious beliefs by sending their children to Catholic schools “have been at an advantage for more than 100 years.” Brookins also called the Chicago Fire Department “the whitest department in the city of Chicago.” Brookins believes the CPS hiring preference policy would bring “a different mix of folks” traditionally overlooked by the Chicago Fire Department and other city departments, Brown reported.

O’Shea, Quinn and O’Connor urged the city to modify its policy “to provide a more general preference that would benefit all applicants currently living within in Chicago,” by ensuring the same access to municipal employment.

thanks Dan


New ambulance for Maywood

This from Josh Boyajian:

Wheeled Coach ambulance

Maywood Ambulance 500 is a 2014 Ford E-450/Wheeled Coach Type III. Josh Boyajian photo

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New ambulance for Clarendon Hills

This from Scott Pilafas

New Ambulance 314 just painted expected to be in service late September.

New ambulance being built for Clarendon Hills.

New ambulance being built for Clarendon Hills.

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