Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mayor Nutter Kicks Butt!

I hope Mayor Nutter's statements are not just political grandstanding, I'd like to think that he is a positive change for Philly government. I love his statement where he said if it was his daughter who was treated that way by people who were supposed to protect her he would personally kick their ass! Apparently the policies at Philly's DHS are even more protective of idiots than those of the federal system. Those involved have been suspended with pay which to me seems to be a reward for doing horrible things. I will warn you that the details of this report are not easy to read. I hope that those involved fry for this and I hope her death haunts them for the rest of their lives because what they did was despicable. I hope this sends a message to others who think that they can just show up each day at DHS and screw off. To those who were involved from the top down I just have one thing to comment, "One day you will be old and unable to care for yourself and I certainly hope that you get the same level of care that young Danieal got from you! Rot in Hell you POS!

7 more at DHS suspended
Irate Mayor Nutter: 'I am heartbroken by what has happened'
Philadelphia Daily News

rudermw@phillynews.com 215-854-2860
Mayor Nutter didn't review Danieal Kelly's death through the lens of a mayor, or as a 25-year public servant.
He was haunted by the girl's death as a dad.
So much so that Nutter's voice quivered and he seemed to fight tears yesterday as he announced more suspensions of DHS workers in connection with the starvation death of Danieal, who had cerebral palsy and whimpered one word - "water" - in the days before her death. The 14-year-old girl wasted away to 42 pounds - the weight of a typical 5-year-old - with bedsores to the bone.

"I read the grand jury report not just as the mayor of this city but also as the father of a daughter," Nutter said.
"It is appalling. It is outrageous. And I am heartbroken by what has happened here."
He added, "I am fully, thoroughly and completely pissed off about what has happened here . . . When I think of my own daughter and if she were in someone else's care and [city workers] performed the way some of these individuals did, I would kick their ass myself."

Alternately sounding sad and angry, Nutter promised that Danieal's death "will not be in vain" and said he will not tolerate lax city employees.

Yesterday, he suspended seven DHS supervisors and top-level administrators, including Ingrid Hawk, Shawn Davis, Janice Walker, Valerie Mond, Martha Poller, Wesley Brown and Pamela Mayo.

All have been suspended with pay, pending an internal investigation into Danieal's death.
Nutter's action brings the total number of DHS suspensions to nine. Two DHS workers - Dana Poindexter and Laura Sommerer - were suspended last week after District Attorney Lynne Abraham filed criminal charges against them.

Those suspended did not return phone calls or declined comment when reached by the Daily News yesterday. Two did not answer their home phones and no answering machine picked up.

In a written statement, Cathy Scott, president of District Council 47 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, also declined to discuss the individual suspensions, citing "the possibility that additional legal and/or personnel actions may be taken."

"Today's DHS is no longer the DHS of two years ago. But the hard work to reform and improve must continue . . . We take our responsibilities to the children very seriously," Scott said.

Paramedics found Danieal's emaciated body on a soiled mattress littered with feces. Her entire back was a gully of maggot-infested bedsores. When paramedics lifted her body, an imprint of her body was left in the mattress. For months, she lay dying in a dark, hot room without food or water. All the while, DHS employees and outside social workers - paid by the city - were supposed to check up on her.

During yesterday's news conference, Nutter praised the "heroes" in DHS who work hard every day to protect the young and vulnerable in the city.

Then Nutter issued a warning to DHS employees who don't measure up: "For the very few, whoever they may be, if this is not the kind of work that you're prepared to do . . . then you should leave this city government right now," Nutter said.

"We don't need you and we don't want you in this government when we have the kind of behaviors that we've seen as a result of this grand jury report."

Nutter said he will be meeting with DHS staff today, to talk about his expectations from staff. He said that every aspect of DHS is under review. In particular, all the cases assigned to Poindexter and Sommerer have been reassigned and are under review and all of Poindexter's cases will receive new investigations, new safety assessments and new home visits, Nutter said.

Last week marked Poindexter's fourth suspension, said the grand jury, which noted that "Poindexter's slovenly, neglectful, and dangerously reckless work habits were not limited to Danieal's case."

Public-interest lawyer Carol Tracy, a member of a DHS oversight panel convened by then-Mayor John Street in 2006, called the suspensions "appropriate." She said the report revealed that DHS failed from the caseworker level to all the way up the chain of command. "It isn't just one failure," Tracy said. Nutter expressed confidence in DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose, whom he named in June, to carry out needed reforms.

He said there's "no need" for the state to take over DHS, as Abraham called for last week.
When a reporter noted that employees involved in Danieal's case were still in their jobs two years after her death, Nutter said, "They're not in place today." *

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