Mark S. Cohen, former assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and presently a partner at a Manhattan law firm since 2002, was appointed by Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis to monitor alleged bias at the Fire Department of New York.
Cohen’s mandate will be to check that the nation’s largest fire department, the FDNY, treats its minorities fairy and according to the law. Cohen was chosen from at least one dozen possible candidates and will be given considerable power to oversee everything from hiring, training and promotions of minorities in the department.
Leading New York City lawyer Georgia Pestana said that the city, in principle did not protest Cohen’s “candidacy for appointment” but the city nevertheless “does not agree that any monitor is warranted” and is planning an appeal of the appointment.
One month ago Judge Garaufis ruled that there was a definite need for broader judicial oversight of the FDNY because he has seen the city’s clear “pattern and practice of discrimination against black firefighter candidates” and other minorities who work for the fire department.
Not only did the judge severely criticize the city for its inaction, but he also blamed Mayor Bloomberg for choosing “to ignore” the unacceptable situation.
The entire issue was born after a lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department in 2007 whose goal was to force the city to bring on more minorities into the work force; out of 11,000 city firefighters, 93% are white men. Little has been done to change the balance of minorities since that lawsuit, and so the Brooklyn federal judge felt the need to appoint the outside monitor.