Lawyer's $300,000 Bill For 53 Days Work Angers NYC

Mark Cohen NYC FDNYNew York City will be out $82 million, when it's forced to pay back wages to all the black firefighters it didn't hire, a judge ruled earlier this month. It also has to hire 186 black firefighters. The city will cough up at least another $300,000 to the lawyer in charge of hiring that new, diverse class.

The appointment of Mark Cohen, a former federal prosecutor, as the monitor of the Fire Department's hiring was controversial from the start. The city had no objection to the lawyer himself, but thought the very idea of a monitor was unnecessary, reported the Daily News. The city is all the more frazzled now that it's been handed a bill of $310,759 for Cohen's 53 days of employment.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled last October that the city's Fire Department was "a stubborn bastion of white male privilege."

The department's tests and hiring practices were so biased, that even though a quarter of the city's population is black, just 3 percent of it's firefighters were.

The judge selected Cohen to supervise the department's hiring, for perhaps as long as a decade. In a statement, Cohen said he was "honored" by the appointment. The city pledged to appeal the appointment of any monitor.

Cohen enraged the city again, when he permitted black firefighters to knock on the doors of black applicants whose applications were incomplete, and encourage them to finalize them. In a letter filed with the court, the city said the Fire Department already made phone calls to applicants, and the additional outreach was confusing, and violated applicants' privacy.

Controversy erupted again, when dozens of white men said that black firefighters prevented them from attending a briefing on the Fire Department exam at the end of the last month, reports the New York Post. A member of the Vulcan Society, the fraternal black firefighter association that originally sued the city, told the newspaper that race wasn't at all a factor; they just simply weren't able to accommodate everyone who showed up.

Cohen's steep invoice, for work done just between Nov. 9 and Dec. 31, is another pinch of salt in the city's wound. Michael Cardozo, the corporation counsel for the city, complained in a letter to Judge Garaufis that Cohen failed to provide an "itemized statement," so there was no way to know if "the fees and expenses claimed were reasonably necessary."

Garaufis said Cohen was "an agent of the court." In other words: tough luck.

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