The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Robert J. Lopez and Ben Welsh, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti suspended the city’s firefighter recruitment program Thursday amid concerns about mismanagement and nepotism, including new emails that show special recruitment workshops were organized for relatives of department insiders.

“I have determined that the Fire Department’s recruiting process is fatally flawed,” the mayor said in a statement Thursday.

The action follows a Los Angeles Times report last month that thousands of candidates who passed a written test were excluded from consideration for a new training class because some of their paperwork wasn’t received in the first 60 seconds of a filing period last spring. Nearly 25 percent of the 70 recruits eventually hired were related to LAFD firefighters.

Internal LAFD emails newly obtained by the Times show dozens of department officials were alerted last year that the paperwork, certifying that candidates had passed a physical fitness test, needed to arrive at the city in the first minutes of the filing period if applicants were to have a chance.

Another email discusses a coaching session for relatives of firefighters that was held at a city fire station. The captain who wrote the emails is the focus of a disciplinary investigation. He told the Times he also gave workshops to people not connected to the LAFD.

As part of Thursday’s announcement, Garcetti said a new training class scheduled to begin later this year has been canceled. He also said Santa Monica-based Rand Corp. was being retained to conduct a thorough review of LAFD recruitment and hiring practices.

The screening process used for the first new class of LAFD recruits in five years has been criticized as arbitrary and unfair by unsuccessful candidates, City Council members and Interim Fire Chief James G. Featherstone. Critics say qualified applicants, including some with paramedic and firefighting experience, were passed over merely because they failed to meet the unannounced one-minute cutoff.

Officials say the class, which is 60 percent white and has just one woman, failed to increase diversity at an agency that has struggled to overcome a legacy of discrimination and bias complaints that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in legal payouts. Garcetti has said the department needs to move more rapidly toward a decades-long goal of reflecting the population of city, which is 29 percent white.

The mayor’s suspension of hiring was criticized by Capt. Frank Lima, president of the union representing rank-and-file LAFD members.

“We’re very upset and we’re very disappointed with the decision,” he said, adding that the move would exacerbate firefighter staffing shortages. He called the internal investigation and the mayor’s decision to suspend hiring “crazy” and “political.”

The Fire Department declined to comment on the investigation. But documents obtained by the Times show the probe is focused on Capt. Johnny L. Green, a 24-year veteran who has been active in community organizations and mentored youths and new recruits for years.

Records show that the LAFD investigation was launched March 11, several days after Green spoke to the Times about his view of flaws in the hiring process.

Green declined to comment Thursday, citing the internal probe. But in the previous interview, he said he held at least four workshops, three of which were attended by members of the community. “That’s what I do,” Green said. “I help the community.”

During the latest round of hiring, he said he gave workshops to about 75 applicants, including a few dozen LAFD relatives and friends. The workshops focused on interview skills and resume writing. Other department members assisted by participating in mock interview panels, Green said.

He also sent an email, forwarded by a department secretary to dozens of Fire Department members, announcing he would lead workshops at a West L.A. fire station for “LAFD cadets and family members of the LAFD only” to prepare candidates for in-person interviews. One Green email to LAFD members urged recipients to inform applicants they must submit proof they had passed the physical fitness exam to the city Personnel Department as quickly as possible after the filing window opened at 8 a.m. April 22.

“Don’t delay, they have to be ready to go. NO exceptions!!!!!!” he wrote on April 19. He also wrote that they expected to meet their quota of several hundred applicants within two minutes.

After a deluge of submissions on April 22, personnel officials quietly decided to extend interview invitations only to 965 applicants deemed to have submitted their paperwork electronically or in person before 8:01 a.m. Personnel officials have acknowledged they did not inform the public that such a cutoff would be used.

Los Angeles Fire Department via Vlickr


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

MAGA Children's Books

The GOP descent into full-blown conspiracy and fascist hell has not gone unnoticed as of late. With the right-wing dominated Supreme Court poised to finally overturn Roe V Wade and 2022 races focusing on backing Republicans who support Trump's 2020 election lies, democracy and decency are all but dead and Democrats are going to have to turn out big in the midterms to prevent a GOP takeover over the House or Senate.

But while the focus of progressive ire has been over the GOP's assault on reproductive rights, Republicans have also been waging a war on facts and education quite well. After all, they need their voters nice and ignorant to remain in power. Book banning and, sickeningly, book burning is a thing for the GOP in the year 2022. The state of Tennessee, for example, is banning books. In fact, a psychotic trump zealot pastor led an actual book-burning event.

Keep reading... Show less

Pat McCrory

Youtube Screenshot

If former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is any indication, the GOP primary wounds wrought in the last several months stand a good chance of bleeding into the general election this fall.

McCrory, who lost his bid Tuesday to become the Republican nominee for the Tar Heel State's open Senate seat, declined to endorse his GOP rival, Rep. Ted Budd, the Trump endorsee.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}