October 24, 2006 |
Children die from horrific abuse. Heads roll at the child welfare agency. Fingers are pointed and blame is cast. This is a sad, but usual scenario in the world of social services when the lives of innocent children are lost while supposedly under the watch of government agencies. This is what is happening in Philadelphia after reports that 20 children died dreadful deaths at the hands of abusers from 2003 through 2005. In all 20 cases, the children's families had some prior contact with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.
October 23, 2006
LAST WEEK'S shake-up at DHS is good news, for many reasons. Mayor Street acted swiftly: less than a week after the Inquirer reported that 20 children had died in a two-year period after DHS had interacted with their families, the director and her deputy were gone. Recently, places like New York and New Jersey have uncovered similar system crises that have been mitigated by elected officials' quick responses. Friday's shake-up is encouraging because it also suggests there is a way to do this right.
October 17, 2006 |
State and local elected officials called yesterday for hearings into the conduct of Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS), the $600 million agency that investigates child abuse. Rep. George Kenney (R., Phila.), who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, said he was not satisfied with how DHS responded in an article in Sunday's Inquirer examining recent child-abuse deaths. He said he was considering legislative oversight hearings and subpoenas to demand documents from the department, which is funded largely with federal and state dollars.
October 15, 2006 |
In September, five months shy of her second birthday, Alayiah Turman was pummeled to death after she interrupted a video game. Marrieon Currie, 11 weeks old in January, took his final breaths as he was being doused in hot water, thrown down stairs, and beaten with a mop handle. Bryanna Redmond, a skinny 2-year-old known as "Princess," died last year from a punch that split her spine. Before they were killed - each by a parent, police say - all three children had come under the scrutiny of the city's child-protection agency, the Department of Human Services, which has the power to remove children from abusive homes.
September 29, 2006 |
The Inquirer yesterday asked a federal judge to reject a proposed confidentiality order in the case of two computer technicians charged with thwarting an FBI investigation of State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo. The public's interest in open and honest government outweighs any need for secrecy, the newspaper's lawyers said. "It is fundamental that the public is entitled to information about its government and those in whom the public has placed its trust," lawyers Amy B. Ginensky and Michael E. Baughman wrote on behalf of The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, which are owned by Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C.
April 8, 2006 |
A House committee has approved legislation that would open some government documents to public inspection, ban government "propaganda" in the United States, and limit lobbying by former government employees. The measure reflects some congressional unease over government secrecy, but the Senate and House must act before it could become law. The legislation could be considered in the House this month as part of a bill to change lobbying and ethics laws. The provisions passed the House Government Reform Committee this week by a vote of 32-0.
February 20, 2006 |
I'm just glad he didn't shoot Scalia. Well, everyone's entitled to one Quailgate joke, so that's mine. Although the best one, occurring at last Monday's White House news briefing, was only inadvertently funny: Reporter's question to Scott McClellan, "Would this be much more serious if the man had died?" This news briefing got famously out of control (as a psychiatrist, I ran groups for inpatient schizophrenics that were far more civilized) over the new great issue of our time: Why was there a 14-hour delay in calling the press?
December 21, 2005 |
Claiming that his business and children need protection, a Main Line bank executive yesterday appealed to a Montgomery County judge to seal the record of any future settlement in the banker's divorce case. Such settlements are public under court rules in Montgomery County. The case was brought by Richard J. Green, chief executive of Firstrust Bank, who said he wanted court-ordered secrecy in place before the final decree is issued in his divorce from Marla Green. Firstrust Bank has 25 locations and 450 employees in the Philadelphia region.
September 12, 2005
The state's student-loan agency has gone to court to limit how much it must reveal about the agency's expenses for a retreat at a Pittsburgh-area resort in June. This follows press reports that the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) spent nearly $885,000 since 2000 on retreats as distant as California's wine region - as well as media accounts of recent six-figure bonuses granted seven top executives at the agency. Corporate-style retreats can serve legitimate business purposes.
September 8, 2005
The job description for Judge John G. Roberts Jr. has changed, but the questions surrounding his nomination have not. What kind of Supreme Court justice would he be, and why isn't the public entitled to learn more about him? The need to answer these questions is even more pressing, now that President Bush has nominated Roberts to replace the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist instead of the retiring associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. With good health, Roberts, 50, stands to lead the court for 30 years or more, which would make him one of the longest-serving chief justices in the nation's history.