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Fiery Deja Vu
Stories about employment discrimination in the Knoxville Fire Department are brewingagain. Last year, the long running legal dispute between the administration of Mayor Victor Ashe and five fire fighters finally ended. Ashe lost. The fire fighters, who charged they had been punished for supporting Ashe's opponent, Ivan Harmon, won. Ashe's side appealed (and lost) each and every decision along the way, ensuring large legal bills for the city and also ensuring that the case was not heard until after Ashe's last re-election campaign in the fall of 1999. U.S. Magistrate Bob Murrian took the unusual step of capping the decision with a permanent injunction prohibiting Ashe from transferring, demoting, refusing to hire, refusing to promote, refusing to give raises to, or reducing the pay of fire fighters because of their political affiliations (or lack thereof).
The Knoxville Fire Fighters Association is moving closer to filing a grievance charging the city with violating civil service rules because the administration has held up promotions to the rank of Master Fire Fighter or Fire Officer for almost two years. At first, the 23 fire fighters who took the test were told the promotions were being delayed by the lawsuit. Guess what they've been told about why the promotions have been held up since the lawsuit ended?
Yupthey're now on hold because of the injunction prohibiting employment discrimination. The city civil service issue could find its way to federal District Court.
How's the View from Brushy?
The Tennessee Department of Correction announced last week, in the officious and sometimes condescending language typical of correction officials, that it had placed 37 of its policies and procedures, meant to answer the most frequently asked questions on subjects from health care for inmates to visitation rules, on its website. The clear implication of the announcement, attributed to Commissioner Donal Campbell, was that the public affairs section of the DOC was tired of answering those questions. Comically, the department's policies and procedures page, linking the questions and answers to information seekers, most of whom would presumably be inmates' families and friends and the inmates themselves if they have computer access, is captioned, in large type, "Tennessee: Looks Good To Me."
February 15, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 7
© 2001 Metro Pulse