Well, it’s surely a tricky situation.

How do you have a diverse police force/fire department when qualifications and hiring policies for these are dictated by the state and may preclude that from happening?

In Calumet City and, I imagine, other Illinois municipalities, the hiring (and firing) of first responder personnel is in the hands of a three-person police and fire commission whose members are appointed by the mayor with the city council’s approval.

Candidates are to be hired based on a numerical ranking of qualified candidates. Once qualified, candidates are ranked based on written, oral and psychological tests. Additional points can be added to a person’s score for different things such as military service. These rankings are posted in city hall.

When vacancies occur in either department, the commission is to hire from that list according to candidates scores and no other criteria.

Recently, two of the three members of the commission retired, both with many years of service.

At a special city council meeting, the mayor’s nominees to replace the retiring commissioners were voted down.

The no votes were not in opposition to the qualifications of the nominees, but more about the speed and uncertainty of the process, and a desire by some on the council to move in a direction of more diversity in those and other departments. A reasonable goal it seems.

After discussion and explanations, the mayor again nominated her candidates at last week’s regular council meeting and they were approved with one dissenting vote.

At the heart of this matter seems to be two issues. One, does the mayor have the right to select those who help run the government? She does.

Is it desirable to have city employees of a racial makeup that somewhat reflects the realities of the city’s population? I, and many others, would say yes.

Is that easy to do? Not so much. And folks of equally good intentions certainly can disagree.

Anyway, Bill Galgan, former fire chief, and Mary Cox, Calumet City Library trustee, a position she will now be required to resign, are now the new members of the Police and Fire Commission.

Congrats to both of them and thanks to Ila Galloway and William Borah for their lengthy service to the community on the commission.

And now for something completely different…

Congrats and love and luck to my son, Dan on the attainment of his masters in art therapy/counseling.

Thanks for reading.

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