I read your article concerning affirmative action in the Cleveland Fire Department and the subsequent editorials in the February 10 Scene. I wanted to mention a few things that were not stated or not emphasized enough to penetrate my anger at the time. I'm a "non-minority" and a 19-year veteran of the fire department. Not one day at work passes without at least one of the following thoughts settling in the back of my mind, as I try to think about what it is I'm supposed to be doing.
There is not one minority on the fire department who has not outright obtained the position, been promoted over others, or at the very least, had his seniority improved because of the color of his skin. A reminder: Seniority on this job is HUGE. Duty stations, first choice of limited days of vacations, having your regular work schedule changed, whether or not you stay at your regular work station for that tour of duty, and opportunity for transfer all depend on seniority. Years ago, I took the promotional exam for the position of lieutenant and ranked 22nd when the grading was completed. When promotions were made, the person that was 21st and I were "moved back" to 23rd and 24th, respectively. Two minority members were "moved up," from more than twice as far down the list, and promoted, rather than us. The list expired after that. Using rough figures, not including pension, we were out approximately $100,000 each during our careers.
My question is, what did I do to deserve this? Did I discriminate against anyone? No. Was I accused, charged, or found guilty of any crime against anyone? No. The City of Cleveland paid for its crimes or mistakes with our promotions. The "remedy" didn't cost the city a penny. It came out of the pockets of those "passed over" during the last 20 years.
During promotional tests, it is not uncommon for promotions to be made or missed by 100th of a point. Those who score in the mid- to high 90s realize how one word or number missed can mean a difference of 16 percent annually in pay for the rest of a person's career, not to mention all the other benefits that go along with rank. Then along comes a person scoring 70 percent, offered to shake hands in the Council Chambers during a small ceremony. Then Council President Michael Westbrook says, "These promotions are just . . . and right." The real danger, however, is on the fireground. In a life-and-death situation, will that person make the right decision 70 percent of the time?
Talk about a level playing field -- this has been an uphill battle for the past 20 years. Think not? Then why would Civil Service lower the passing score to 40 percent on the written portion of the last entrance exam? That action would increase the number of minorities who "passed" and, subsequently, per the Headen decision, the number required by law to be hired.
I think a capable attorney could argue that my (our) civil rights have been violated. What would be the "remedy" for that?
After searching vainly through the February 17 Livewire section to read the review of the Sno-Core 2000 tour, I realized Scene had dropped the proverbial ball. When will your publication realize there is a thriving metal/heavy music community in Cleveland? Cleveland has been a loving supporter of hard rock for over a generation. Isn't Mushroomhead the top-drawing local band? Snubbing Sno-Core is a slap in the face.
For more than two and a half decades, Scene published worthy heavy music concert reviews. Now your publication is snubbing the up-and-coming neo-metal bands. What gives? Like it or not, System of a Down, Puya, Static-X, and Powerman 5000 are the future of metal music.
Anyone attending the Agora Sno-Core show could tell you that it was more than just a concert. To many, the show was a religious experience. Scene obviously doesn't have a clue. After all, Warrant, Sebastian Bach, Ratt, and Mötley Crüe represented what was wrong with the 1980s metal scene. Reviewing them compares to waking up with Frankenstein's monster in your bed.
Welcome to the year 2000. Metal music today is more diversified, complex, and intelligent than its 1980s predecessors could ever be. Please promise me that, when Powerman 5000 and Static-X play the Agora February 26, you'll open your eyes and ears. In a world full of phony, idiotic poseur bands, give credit to fresh, original metal music. This complaint comes from a metal enthusiast going into his fourth decade of high-decibel head-banging music. My words come from the heart.
Editor's note: Sno-Core headliner System of a Down was featured in the February 3 issue of Scene, and Static-X is featured on page 19 of this issue. For more ass-kicking coverage, consult the April issue of Hit Parader.
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