Judge Dismisses Mississippi NAACP Suit on Katrina Funds
U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson dismissed a lawsuit by the Mississippi NAACP and others seeking to block the state from diverting Hurricane Katrina housing money to a Gulf Coast port project.? Judge Robertson said the plaintiffs might have a valid policy argument against diverting the $570 million in funding, but he ruled they don’t have standing to bring the case because they didn’t show they would be personally harmed.
The NAACP and other advocates sued U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year, arguing that the money shouldn’t be spent on the port when dire housing needs persist. State officials have argued that expanding the State Port at Gulfport is key to creating jobs. Larry Schoen, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, said they are considering their options and might appeal.
Mississippi received $5.4 billion in federal Community Development and Block Grant after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, destroying much of its housing stock. Last year, then-HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson reluctantly approved the state’s proposal to steer some of the money earmarked for coastal housing to the port project. At the time, Jackson said he was concerned about the move because thousands of residents were still living in federally subsidized housing, including FEMA trailers.
The block grant program is designed to provide federal money to communities to benefit low to moderate-income residents. But Congress provided waivers to Mississippi, which freed the state from meeting all the low- to moderate-income criteria for many of its recovery projects.
Wisconsin Company to Pay $85K for Retaliatory Firing
A Milwaukee construction company will pay $85,000 to settle charges that it fired a Black employee after he filed a charge of racial discrimination. CG Schmidt Inc. also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for certain managers.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of the employee, Frederick Jackson. The EEOC says Jackson was fired in 2006, two months after he filed a discrimination charge. The company released a statement saying it agreed to settle “to avoid the high costs of litigation.”
EEOC attorney John Hendrickson says it’s illegal to retaliate against employees who raise allegations, even in cases like this where Jackson couldn’t prove the underlying discrimination.
New York Fire Department Hiring is Discriminatory
A federal judge? slammed New York City for adopting hiring practices at the fire department that he says were designed to keep Blacks from joining the force.? Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the FDNY’s written exams were part of a pattern of intentional discrimination against Blacks in violation of the Civil Rights Act. The judge ruled in July that the written exams used to screen and rank applicants were discriminatory. The department has about 350 Black firefighters out of 11,500.
The city law department disagreed with the judge’s ruling. A spokesman for the organization that represents Black firefighters says he’s hopeful a remedy is near.
Cincinnati Schools Admit Minority Contracting Error
Cincinnati school officials say $9 million the district paid to a white-owned construction company was mistakenly counted as a minority contract. The revelation came two days after the NAACP and Baptist ministers questioned the school system’s minority contracting figures and demanded more work for Blacks on school construction projects.
District spokeswoman Janet Walsh says the white-owned firm was incorrectly identified because of a clerical error. The district is investigating to find out who made the error. Earlier, school officials said minority-owned companies had so far received 12 percent of the millions spent on a massive school-rebuilding program. It’s now expected that estimate will be lowered by at least a full percentage point.
Increase in African-American Applications at U of Chicago
The University of Chicago has received 42 percent more undergraduate applications for its 2010 fall freshman class. Admissions dean James Nondorf says the school saw increased applications from African-American, Latino and international students. Nondorf also says there were increases in all income levels and across the country regionally.
Of the 19,306 applications for the fall, the university says it will accept 3,700 students, the same number as last year when 13,564 students applied to the school. University officials say reasons for the increase include outreach and having President Barack Obama as a former faculty member.
RTA Responds to Chicagoans’ Mass Transit Lawsuit
The agency that oversees public transit in northeastern Illinois is responding to a federal lawsuit by stressing its own efforts to increase funding. The Regional Transit Authority’s statement responds to a lawsuit that claims RTA and others violated civil rights law by using a funding structure unfair to Blacks and Hispanics.
Chicagoans Dorothy McGhee and Manuel Munguia claim in the lawsuit Illinois has unfairly favored Metra, which they say has a largely white clientele, at the expense of the Chicago Transit Authority. They claim CTA customers are largely minorities.
RTA says it wants to increase resources for the entire transit system. The agency refused to comment specifically on the lawsuit.
Slave Trail Panel Keeps Distance from Suit
Richmond, Va.’s Slave Trail Commission is putting some distance between its initiative and a lawsuit involving a slave burial ground in the capital city. A former Richmond city councilman is among those asking that Virginia officials excavate part of a parking lot to determine how much of the paved area overlaps the site. They filed a lawsuit claiming the state failed to protect land from what they consider the desecration and destruction of the former graveyard.
The slave trail panel stated it is “not involved in any way” with the lawsuit. The commission seeking a heritage site in Richmond focusing on the city’s slave-trading past said it supports efforts to determine the boundaries of the former burial ground, but through cooperation.