IT TOOK SOME FANCY administrative footwork but Prince George's County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr. did manage to come up with a solution to the mess that he'd compounded involving the county's firefighter training program. To his credit, Mr. Kelly recognized that his initial effort to correct an "administrative error" had made things far worse. Now instead of dismissing 14 fire-department trainess in mid-session to make room for other men who should have been included in the first place, the county is making room for both groups.
The move is important not only to both groups of men, but to the often volatile state of race relations in the county. The original 14 trainees, chosen for their high scores on a merit examination, are white. The would-be trainess, under a federally financed program in which unemployed people are given chances at county jobs, are mostly black. Though no quotas are involved in the training classes, the effect of either letting the dismissals stand or continuing to exclude the men from the federal program would have been to create racial tension - to mistreat all of the men, black and white.
Having urged the county to reinstate the dismissed men and to take whatever steps necessary to add others who had been unfairly left out, we are pleased to note Mr. Kelly's willingness to take a second, more sensitive look at the problem and to come up with a reasonable solution. Not only is this far preferable to what could have been costly and damaging litigation, but it is a forthright recognition that two governmental wrongs don't make a right. We trust, too, that it will serve to sharpen the county government's sensitivity to the human problems involved in personnel decisions that don't lend themselves to routine bureaucratic remedies.