Saturday, March 10th, 2012
Merit Matters was formed in September 2009 and between then and November 2009 I had at least 7 contacts with Hispanic Society President George Diaz as we solicited support from him for our group. Unable to get an answer in that time, we dropped the matter until he contacted us more than a year later - in March 2011 - indicating he would like to support us and asking me to address a meeting. Having learned my lesson, I got back to him one time about this request and then let the matter drop when he did not return my call.
In November 2011 he again expressed an interest in supporting our group and again invited us to address a meeting. I recognize now that we were being too solicitous of him, but we did again agree to appear at the February 27, 2012 meeting. In the interim I was selected to attend an FDNY training program which requires me to attend classes every Monday evening. This requirement is what Diaz refers to as “back pedaling” and “excuses”. I suppose I should have informed the outside experts scheduled to address this class that we would have to re-schedule lest Diaz has his feelings hurt. Note- our attorneys and Executive Board members were still going to make the meeting.
Diaz has now issued an attack on Merit Matters expressing support for the Vulcan Society although he acknowledges himself that it is based on limited information. One reason that information is limited is that he did not contact me, although he has my cell phone number and there are numerous other avenues of contact he could have utilized (he also did not contact me to inform me of the vote rescinding our invitation; I only learned of it when I contacted him in mid-February to let him know who from Merit Matters would be attending the February 27 meeting). This repeated failure of his to communicate effectively and responsibly can only lead to problems and misunderstandings and we frankly cannot understand the reason for it.
Regarding our recommendation that candidates attend the Vulcan prep class, consider the following:
“The tutoring you are about to receive is without a doubt the best tutoring available at any price. However, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of every other tutoring option available”.
The above is taken word for word from - wait for it - the Vulcan Society Tutorial booklet Introduction. Merit Matters was not engaging in a “deliberate flooding” of the Vulcan class “to disrupt and/or attempt to make the Vulcan Society look racist”; in fact, we wrote that we could not imagine that anyone would be turned away from these classes based on their race. This was not a stunt, or a prank, or an effort to sabotage this class - to believe it was one has to believe we would “prank” our own supporters and sabotage a class we urged them to attend. It was, rather, good advice which is in perfect alignment with the advice given above by the Vulcans themselves and based largely on the fact that the Vulcan class for the last test was the only class that covered the very unique, subjective types of questions that appeared on the last test - even the city’s own prep course could not match the Vulcans’ performance. They are a victim of their own success.
Diaz would like to know how I can order the Vulcans not to let anyone in.
I cannot, and did not.
I did speak to one of their representatives while the controversy was going on (a friend of mine, by the way) and assured him I was advising people to remain calm and cooperative, but that was it.
I did not direct the Vulcans on what to do, nor did I advise people not to try to get in. Why would I do that after recommending they go? A phone call from Diaz to me would have kept him from making this dubious claim...but we have already reviewed his poor communication skills.
Merit Matters has been communicating almost non-stop for quite some time now and one of the points we have repeatedly made is that the Hispanic Society very admirably declined to get involved in the Vulcan lawsuit - in fact, we may have enlightened more people about this fact than the Hispanic Society itself. Diaz writes, “We left so many Hispanics on the top of the last list #6019” but “We” must be defined - it is the Vulcan Society that caused that to happen; the group Diaz now supports. I invite him to contact candidates from that list and ask them how the group he now attacks is viewed by them.
The past President of the Vulcan Society, Paul Washington, seems to be running the Vulcan Society and now it appears the past President of the Hispanic Society, Jose Garcia, may be similarly usurping George Diaz and this is why we ask if they are going “Back to the Future.”
The overwhelming amount of support Merit Matters has received from Hispanic Officers and Firefighters reflects the fact that they reject the thinking displayed in the statement, “There are issues we, as Hispanics, need to address”. Merit Matters is addressing issues that we, as firefighters, need to address.
We believe, as Diaz has been quoted saying, that it is an “insult” to intimate an exam has to be dumbed down for minorities to pass and that it is “crazy” to believe the 1999 and 2002 tests are invalid due to racial bias. We agree, as he has also been quoted as saying, that quota hiring makes it “very difficult to ever come in and be accepted as an equal”.
To go back to a time, and an organization, that seems to demand hiring based on anything other than merit will be doing a disservice to minorities who earn their position in the FDNY in the future. We hope the Hispanic Society does not take this journey.
We will be scheduling another Merit Matters meeting shortly and invite any and all to attend. If you disagree with us you will be given the largest platform we can muster to express your views, so come on down. Details will be announced shortly.
President - Merit Matters