The state and HannahGrace
The Division of Child and Family Services is a mess. Children seem to be dying in the system but no one cares. Nothing has changed. Far too frequently a child dies and we hear promises that DCFS is going to be overhauled. Yet, nothing changes. The state of Arkansas is still 30 years behind the rest of the country. Is this because the children are poor or disadvantaged? Is it because their parents are powerless once in the system? Is it because a few people at DCFS make the decisions about children and the rest of the staff makes excuses? One wonders what it will take if not a child burned in a truck right before Christmas to get people's attention. Did HannahGrace die in vain?
In the article “Gone,” David Koon wrote that the Carr family said they had come to understand just how much dominion a caseworker holds over the fate of a child in foster care. “The judge makes the decision. But in our case, whatever DHS told him, that's what he went with.”
I have experienced the same autonomous, arbitrary decisions by caseworkers and judges. The assumption is that the caseworkers, their supervisors and superiors are qualified and knowledgeable. But this has proved to be untrue.
The state seems uninterested in improving services to children or families. It seems that the only thing anyone is interested in is keeping their jobs and doing their job as they want. They are uninterested in the best interest of the child. Employees of DCFS will make lip service to the concept but they do not have enough training to understand what meets that standard. The Carrs repeatedly tried to get the caseworker to question HannahGrace's father and his fitness. But the DCFS social worker made a decision that cost HannahGrace her life. How many children must die before the leaders of this state take action?
War Memorial wars
In my discourse with City Director Stacy Hurst I vented my feelings and she vented hers (The Insider, March 4). I did say I did not want to fight with her and that I refused to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person. We did resolve our conversation in a pleasant manner. We agreed to disagree concerning historic War Memorial Golf Course.
Apparently, as uncovered by your staff, Mrs. Hurst mentioned it to Mayor Stodola. It was with great surprise and some alarm that I found myself talking with a Little Rock police detective. That conversation resolved nicely as I had no intent whatsoever of intimidation towards Mrs. Hurst. Still, I had been subjected to government-sanctioned intimidation. Who amongst us has had a police officer to call us with the phrase “she's not going to press charges but…. ”
Since this incident I have come to learn of at least two city employees who were basically told to not comment on the current plans for War Memorial Golf course. They were told this in such a manner as to lead them to believe their jobs were at risk should they comment.
This is totally unacceptable behavior on the part of government officials. This whole episode has revealed a most unsavory pattern of behavior on the part of city officials. It would behoove the City Board of Directors to consider appropriate action towards those city persons who have initiated the intimidation.
When private citizens, albeit employees, and non-employees are subjected to intimidation by those in authority then that authority is absolutely wrong. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by government.
I say plainly: Throw (or vote) the rascals out!
The Feb. 19 Democrat-Gazette ran a story about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius objecting to a half-dozen rate in-creases on people who buy their policies individually from the insurer. In California, Anthem Blue Cross was ready to raise their rates by 39 percent. In Maine, they were asking for a 23 percent raise.
The Democrat-Gazette headlined the article with “Insurers draw Obama team flak.” Whose side is our daily paper on — ours or Blue Cross?
The health debate
Our health care system is in crisis now. A trigger could unnecessarily delay a public health insurance option for years — or kill it entirely by delaying it indefinitely. Thousands of families in our state lack insurance coverage and they can't afford to wait for the increased competition and lower costs a public option would deliver.
How many people must already fight to have their insurance companies pay for health care expenses that clearly should be covered? Insurance companies are masters at gaming the system — we've all seen how they avoid paying out claims and covering people who are sick. If they know what criteria would trigger the creation of a public option, they'll do just enough to avoid the trigger, without changing the way they do business.