Judge Rules In JFRD Race Hearing

Mediation Recommended For JFRD, Black Firefighters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The ongoing debate about race relations at Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department came to the federal courthouse on Monday.

A federal judge said the JFRD and the Brotherhood of Firefighters are going to have to sit down and resolve the decades-old dispute by taking part in some large-scale mediation.

Both sides were in court on Monday.

The Brotherhood of Firefighters, which is comprised mostly of African-American firefighters, talked about some things that came up since 1971 when they said they wanted the racial makeup of the fire department to be representative of the racial makeup of the city. They said the city has since fallen away from that thinking.

Both side have said they would sit down at the judge's request and do some mediation. They hope the large-scale mediation will help work out any problems.

"We think it's a good idea by Judge Corrigan. These are complex maters, and mediation lets you be creative in the solution. It also has plenty of time so you can consider people's concerns; really listen to what they believe the issues are. Frankly, it keeps the lawyers out of the process a little more," said Cindy Laquidara, of the Office of the General Counsel.

"If everybody's is serious about dealing with discrimination, we're interested in talking about it. Not just talking about it, but putting solutions in place that will actually resolve the problem going forward. Like we mentioned in court, if you get to a spot where you eliminate discrimination or at least put the systems in place that deal with that and make it that it's no a problem at the organization, the city wins," said Dennis Thompson, who is representing the African-America firefighters.

Who will arbitrate the mediation, and who will fund the mediation has not yet been determined.

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