|Labor Nominee Puts Landrieu in Quandary|
By Quin Hillyer
Wednesday, March 20 2013
Louisiana’s Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu may be in an awkward position due to President Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor. As head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DoJ), Perez has been a notorious despoiler of police and fire departments, and/or of the cities those departments serve – prominently including Landrieu’s hometown of New Orleans, which her brother serves as mayor.
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) pre-Hurricane Katrina had a reputation for corruption and sometimes for racial tension and/or bigotry. It was with great fanfare last summer that Perez and Mayor Landrieu announced a federal “consent decree” governing the much-needed reform of the NOPD. But now the relationship has soured. In essence, the mayor accuses Perez and his DoJ compatriots of double-crossing the city.
What happened was that after Landrieu negotiated a $55 million payment by the city, DoJ separately negotiated another $17 million set of “reforms” with the Orleans Parish Sheriff – reforms which, through a quirk in state law, will also be the city’s financial responsibility. Now Mayor Landrieu is fuming, and specifically blaming Perez’ Civil Rights Division for holding “a gun to the city’s head”.
Naturally, this all could affect how the mayor’s sister Mary looks at Perez’ already controversial nomination – especially since Perez also is behind a fight with the whole state of Louisiana over a separate, race-infused voter-registration issue. Due to that controversy and others, Landrieu’s Republican Senate colleague from the Bayou State, David Vitter, already has announced a “hold” on Perez nomination.
Senator Landrieu so far has issued only an anodyne statement about “reviewing Mr. Perez’ qualifications… and plans,” and she did not respond to my specific question about her city’s dispute with Perez’ division. (Nor has the mayor’s press secretary returned a call.)
If the New Orleans situation were an isolated incident, it might be small potatoes to all senators not named Landrieu. Instead, it’s part of a pattern (as I explained in two other pieces here and here at CFIF). In case after case, Perez has appeared to have relegated public safety to decidedly second-class status, beneath the dictates of Perez’ racialist agenda.
In Jacksonville, Florida, and Dayton, Ohio, and most infamously in a huge fight with the city of New York over which even liberal Mayor Michael Bloomberg is crying foul, Perez has led the charge against police and fire departments that run afoul of his race-based bean counting. In Dayton and in New York, even the local NAACP leaders or many black would-be firefighters themselves have balked at the harm to public safety, and to their livelihoods, caused by Perez’ approach – and the liberal Village Voice has weighed in largely against Perez, with a cover story pronouncing those black firefighters “Hosed”.
(Perez has pushed a long list of other “employment litigation” suits, based on race or gender, against other local governmental entities.)
It’s worth reviewing exactly what is in the “relief order” signed by the federal judge in the case in which the FDNY – those heroes of 9/11 – effectively stand accused of racism. Specifically as recommended by Perez and his DoJ cohorts, the order makes eligible for relief (as a “non-hire claimant”) “any black or Hispanic person who: (a) failed Written Exam 7029 with a score of 25 or higher and was not later appointed as an entry-level firefighter; (b) failed Written Exam 2043 with a score of 25 or higher and was not later appointed as an entry-level firefighter….”
The exams consisted of 85 questions – and mostly rather easy questions at that. Yet Perez would have black or Hispanic applicants eligible for hiring and other rewards even if they missed 60 of those 85 questions – in other words, if they blew 70 percent of the test! And, as per the order, claimants would be eligible for “back pay (including prejudgment interest), retroactive seniority and/or compensatory damages for certain noneconomic harms.” The taxpayers would thus be massively on the hook to pay for years of non-work by absolute flunkies.
As a result of what the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald called a “disastrous crusade against the FDNY”, which the New York Post says will “undermine what is arguably the world’s finest fire department,” the department remains in a limbo that now has been running for nearly six years. The city, thank goodness, has won the most recent court ruling – in other words, against the judge and the Justice Department – with a temporary injunction from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the racialist hiring order.
All of which poses a question for Landrieu and any other senator who claims to be anywhere rightward of hard-core liberal: Do you really want a Cabinet secretary whose mission seems to be to foment racial tension, while putting public safety and city budgets at serious risk?
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