City Councilman Glynn Hines flat out says he “does not trust” Mayor Tom Henry to do the right thing in hriring enough African Americans. So, after voting against the fire department merit commission, he changed his mind and voted along with five other council members to override the mayor’s veto of forming the commission:
Tuesday night City Council voted 6-3 to override Mayor Tom Henry’s veto to establish a merit board for the city fire department. Hines, D-6th District, who spoke against the bill in August, cast the deciding vote to override the veto, saying he trusts the firefighters to make better minority hiring decisions than the Henry administration.
“This particular decision comes down to, ‘Who do you trust?’” Hines said. “Right now … I trust the firefighters over this administration.”
But if the commission indeed ends up doing what Hines thinks it should be doing, shouldn’t it go by the name diveristy commission instead of merit commission? You can have a policy of hiring the best people available. Or you can have a policy of having a diversified workplace. You cannot do both simultaneously, and anybody who says you can is either living in a dream world or lying to you. If you hire the best, you may or may not have a diversified work force. If you have sufficient diversity, you may or may not have the best people available. Emphasizing one or the other means you begin with different starting pools of applicants.
The only way to make such magic work is if you make race a qualification for the job. Maybe that’s defensible in an office setting — perhaps citizens being put through the paces by bored bureaucrats will feel better about it if the bureaucrats look like them. When it comes to firefighters, I care mostly about whether they can handle the equipment and if they are capable of hauling my sorry butt out of a burning house. I don’t care if they’re all white, all black or all Cambodian lesbians.