Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has apologized to former Lansing Fire Department Chief Randy Talifarro following a recent public dispute about hiring practices for firefighters, the Lansing City Pulse reports.
“I apologize for the discomfort and turmoil that you expressed that you experienced in the time that you served as fire chief in the city of Lansing under my administration,” Schor wrote. “It was not my intention for this to occur, but I will take you at your word that it did, and I regret this and take the blame for this happening.”
Schor told the Advance this week that “we have a desire and an expectation to be diverse and match our community.”
Talifarro, who is African-American and had also served as East Lansing’s fire chief, resigned his position in May 2018.
In June 2018, Schor named David Purchase, who is white and served 14 years as chief for the Norton Shores Fire Department, as interim fire chief. Schor announced Michael Mackey as Lansing’s new fire chief in January. Mackey, who also is white, served for more than 30 years at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
On March 8, Talifarro penned a stinging open letter to Schor in response to the mayor’s plan strengthen diversity within the fire department. In the letter, Talifarro challenged the mayor’s leadership style and commitment to diversity.
The dispute has sparked a debate about whether local government operates a workforce that best reflects the city’s population.
Dale Copedge, an Ingham County commissioner and president of the Lansing NAACP, told the Advance that he wants to hear more from both men regarding the lack of diversity within the Lansing Fire Department.
Talifarro said Schor’s apology “may be a little over the top” for his comfort, but he appreciated the gesture. He contended his concerns were not about his ego, but rather on “issues much larger than that.” Talifarro has offered to meet with Schor and the NAACP, the City Pulse reports.