I know that politics is the bottom line of government agencies, and that> resignation of the commissioner would be the politically expedient end of> this round of murders, but let me offer a politically incorrect suggestion> that might actually make a difference:>> Eliminate the civil service rules that protect the agency's workers, and> let the so-called boss of the agency act like one.>> Is anyone asking the question "What does this city really want to protect?> The jobs of our civil servants or the lives of the children supposedly> under their protection?" I'm sure the union calls what they do by some> other name than "shielding the workers from accountability," but isn't> that the net effect of current policy regarding agency workers? Sure,> giving the commissioner more authority over personnel is no panacea, and> it won't eliminate the abuse of children, but anything less than a change> in the accountability structure of the ACS essentially condemns more> children to death, torture, and neglect. So, who really speaks for the> children in raising this point?>
Mattingly was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is, he was put in charge of ACS at a time when the collective institutional policy pedulum had swung back to the "Family-Centered" model. This was the result of pressure from the left AND the right, the left saying that removing children from families was paternalistic and racist, and the right being against government intrusion into families and against government spending for foster care and social programs. This pendulum swing was applauded by all concerned, including the media (a quick Lexus search of NYT articles and editorial would likely back this up). Mattingly did not by himself create the tempora or the mores, though he may have both advocated and reflected them.
Just as the Palestinian elections swept away any lingering traces of moral ambiguity or moral relativism that the modern left has increasingly hid behind with regards to Israel, we also now find ourselves facing the harsh glare of reality vis-a- vis how we as a society truly value the lives of poor children trapped in the grip of social dysfunction. ACS workers are poorly paid with actual caseloads far in excess of the public spin, forced to use public transportation to get from potential crisis to potential crisis, often alone in dangerous neighborhoods at weird hours and asked to investigate what amounts to a potential or actual crime scene. Those of us with a history in government know well how callous budget decisions are made when the "client" population is a tax taker rather than a tax provider. If that is part of the decision making with regards to ACS than those who often hide behind the OMB curtain should be thrown out of government along with the people they report to. It's time for government to put its money where its mouth is. The appointment of 20 law enforcement agents are a good start but not nearly enough. ACS investigative teams have to be mobile teams with at least one member being a peace officer with the power of arrest and licensed to carry a weapon. They must be able to gain access to a judge for a search warrant 24/7/356 and have adequate NYPD backup when needed. They must be specially trained in forensic investigation of child abuse as well as be able to determine the fitness of a parent or caregiver at any particular moment. Lastly however, the policy of family reunification must cease to be the prime goal of the agency. Its mission is to PROTECT CHILDREN!!!! This cannot be done by trying to shoehorn the caseload into a policy that may be the actual antithesis of that goal. We are asking the workers in this agency to assume the natural responsibilities of the parents which they can only do until the legal system assumes the burden. These is a case by case situations and their proper solution can only be found on a case by case basis.
Firing may be necessary for "A QUICK FRESH START, " but it should not bea TEMORARY EMOTIONAL CATHARSIS that does not solve the underlying problems. Last night I was reading in the WASHINGTON POST WEEKLY how businesses such as Domino, Union Carbide, Murphy Oil and Exxon Mobile were trying to housetheir employees and work at MAYBE HALF CAPACITY to restart their economicactivities in NEW ORLEANS. Because of KATRINA there are plenty of government workers we could fire on the local, state and federal level, but NOW we need government workers to CORDINATE and ASSIST businesses to RESTART. Similarly, the UNITED NATIONS "FOOD FOR OIL" PROGRAM IN IRAQ would EXCITE BOSS TWEED, but FIRING many BUREACRATS whether LOW LEVEL or SENION is abest an initial solution, if at all possible. We still have to deal with the UNITED NATIONSfor many WORLD HEALTH and FAMINE PROGRAMS. The ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN'S SEVICES and the UNITED NATIONS many NEED SOME FIRINGS, but is still a TEMPORARY SOLUTION to GREATERPROBLEMS.
Another great column, Henry! I particularly like your opening line: “which the teenager favored while he was not being entertained by the baby’s mother….” making the point that the perpetrator in this case was just a kid himself. And your reasoning on why the Commissioner should resign…
The truth is that all commissioners under the Bloomberg Administration are never held accountable for their actions. No matter how badly they screw up they will always have the support and confidence of this Mayor.
Once again you leave out a central fact: low pay for unqualified employees with large caseloads who avoids foster care saves money. Money that would otherwise be "wasted" on children who are doomed, and society is not to blame. Is that my idea? No. But how can the New York Post, which has adopted a view that social assistance (and higher spending on education) is at best is a waste, because the people to whom it is directed are the source of their own problems, and at worst a harm, because it allows people to avoid facing and solving those problems and makes them dependent instead, object to a reduction in costly foster care expenditures? Do the children who pass through the foster care system end up so well off, the Post should be more likely to ask? Is it really the taxpayer's responsibility to look after these children? Am I my brother's keeper? It is a measure of the intellectual vacuity of the liberals you disparage that they are standing up to take sole responsibility for the death of children. In reality, I see the makings of an unholy alliance between "pro-choice, realistic conservatives" and "socially liberal, fiscally consevative liberals." The current childrens' policies serve both their aims. So does the distribution of state school aid. Why not lavish tax dollars collected in NYC on school aid (and back door school aid called STAR) on the children of the suburbs and upstate New York, where it might do some good, rather than waste in those coming from a culture that does not value education anyway? As long as the city has schools where children identified as "gifted" can test into at age four, then school dollars are efficiently used. Money saved can be lavished on "our seniors." Surely these were not "our children," they were the children of their parents. In short, I find the beating of breasts over dead children a little irritating in a city in which one side of the political "divide," a divide which the current Mayor efficiently straddles (though at a higher cost than some would like, much of it inherited), would more honestly view their disappearance as future welfare expenditures and crimes avoided, and the other as abortions that should have occurred a little sooner.
Why does the death of these children shock anyone? In a country that> fosters--indeed--funds abortion, life is no longer sacred, no matter> what the age of the being. Millions are slaughtered yearly, paid for> with taxpayer dollars. Where is the outrage for those lost souls?>
The practical problem is that Bloomberg;s appraoch - more people, more money - will not solve the probelm. Whgo will the field people be? Certainly with little or no experience. They need a different conceptual model and a different practica-fieldl model. Mattingly won't give them the first but he could give them the second and concentrate on cleaning OUT the people he's got.
With out a doubt, this is the best piece you have written
Will anyone ever hold the parents/guardians/boyfriends/girlfriends/etc responsible and not the "authorities"? It is so sad that no one is ever held accountable other than those overburdened, undersupported officials who valiantly try to do "the right thing".
My work in pediatric clinics in the late 70's at medical school hospitalsintroduced me to the vagaries of care for the "whole child" Many of ourkids did not received adequate careand the lack of concern by themothers--mostly one parent families---was evident. Bringing someone intothe home who assaults your children is beyond hapless, it is wrong. Andwhat happened to the welfare to work program with these mothers who seemedto be baby factories? The pediatric staff often felt that no one reallycared about the children. This situation has not changed. Finally,teaching parenting is a major challenge---my doctorate dealt with thisissue re: toddlers. Who runs these programs? Who evaluates the outcomes?Truly I trust the police when they say a house is filthy not a CSA workerwho doesn't want to see what is really going on in terms of cleanliness,order and the other necessities a child needs. I have now answers to thisproblem, but a "united family<" is not a solution its a buzz word.
Thank you for the e-mail covering another tragic event.Like sports, firing the manager generally is covering up for aweak team and organization.The agencies must have a daily log that tells us what is covered at any meeting, who said what etc. This log will be available for distributionto the public and media.Your thoughts?.
14.How much can a system do to correct the failures of our society to uphold families and promote violence in entertainment. I think the Commissioner and his entire staff should be given medals for even trying to deal with the mess our society has created.
15.I certainly don't have to tell you about municipal employees and civil-servants. However, I must relate a story I overheard being laughed and talked about by a group of young (30ish) Chinese men and women. They are all employed by N.Y.C. in various agencies and departments. There were 7 of them --3 male and 4 females. THey were all talking about how NO ONE works at their jobs. That people read newspapers. That people stand around talking with each other. That people are on the phones with personal calls. That people go to the lunch area and sit around and talk. I do not want you to think that I believe that these are the only 7 people giving a day's work for a day's pay, but that is the Mattingly problem. He has no control over his employees or his agency.Mattingly is his agency.He is the system. He is so twined into the players in the child care system that all he and they do is talk to each other about each other. He would not know how to yell at some goof-offs and insist they make a home visit without notice, etc. You're partially correct. Mattingly should not have to quit. He won't. The Mayor must fire him. The Mayor should either put his girl friend, Ms.Taylor in charge or force Scoppetta out of the Fire Dep't spot and let Nick try his hand. This way , He names a new Fire Comm. and gets the firemen to love him for it.
16.you are right except for the conclusion. Why isn't the Commissioner's managerial incompeence sufficient ground for dismissal if he doesn't do the proverbial right thing and resign?
To Henry Stern:Lest we forget, (if you ever were aware of it) Scopetta had his string of gruesomely murdered ACS children!I would like to recommend that you read these links to articles I have written regarding the Giuliani-Scopetta Days at ACS. I was there and I still am there:Fun Searches - Googling Giuliani and Formaldehyde and Children...Purges and Gag Orders--Administration for Children's Services Giuliani/Scopetta "Reforms" set the stage for what we see todayEnough With The Broken Windows Already ! - NYC's racist lock up policy for good parents who need some help.AHRP Testimony: Protections for Foster Children Enrolled in Clinical Trials - Remember Tuskeegee?How Nicholas Scopetta and Giuliani reformed Administration for Children's Services - And people are still paying the price for what these bozos did....Baby Snatching Fools- Giuliani time returns.Special Victims, Nixzmary, Instant Responses, Emergency Children's Services- The New York Post is Lying When They Say Giuliani Fixed CPS in New YorkBetsy Knew in 2002, such a big shot Betsy, what did you do? - Betsy Gottbaum, New York's Public Advocate knew how screwed up Child Protective Services was at least back to 2002. A lot of kids have died since then. By the way, several of us union members from Emergency Children's Services tried to see Betsy years ago. We met with staffers who stroked us.Cops, kids and ragamuffins wise and foolishWould You Believe It? No Reply! Why I do not trust the Inspector General's Office, or if you'd rather think so, it's just fiction..... Part of an Email exchange I had with my bosses and the Inspector General about a manager who screwed up a couple of things.... *If he makes the news you saw it here first!NYPD, ACS, Locking up moms and dads and snatching children.
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