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City To Borrow Nearly $80M To Settle 1995 Firefighters' Exam Lawsuit

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Emanuel administration said Tuesday it will essentially borrow money to compensate thousands of African-Americans who were passed over by the city's firefighter entrance exam in 1995, which courts have ruled was discriminatory.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the city agreed last year to hire 111 African Americans, who had been bypassed for jobs in 1995 due to the flawed entrance exam.

Originally, officials estimated it would cost the city $30 million to $40 million in damages to nearly 6,000 others who would not get the opportunity for a firefighter job.

Now, word comes that the city must pay nearly $80 million in damages, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city will sell bonds to cover the cost.

"We bonded for this back in, I think, the spring or summer of 2012, so it wouldn't impact the budget, so it could be balanced," the mayor said. "On the other hand, I made sure we also brought a class of firefighters – African-American firefighters – in, and they'll be graduating soon, and I want to make sure, again, that the practices and policies of the past don't ever repeat themselves."

The actual damages to compensate the would-be firefighters who were passed over was much higher than expected, after officials calculated the actual wage increases for firefighters since 1995. The original $30 million to $40 million tab was only an educated guess, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

LISTEN: WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports


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