LA Foster Care: The City of Bell Model
LA Foster Care: The City of Bell Model
The Business of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
The most recent dust-up in Bell brings to mind…well just about everything I have been writing about the past several months. For those of you who don’t know, Bell is a small city with a bit less than 40 thousand in population.
Close to 20% of the city is below the poverty level. I’ll let you read the dirty details here, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/07/bell-officials-to-ask-state-controller-john-chiang-to-independently-audit-city-finances.html but the parallels to what has been going on with agency foster care is striking.
First of all you have a small cadre of elites running things, making salaries many times more than similar jobs with same population cities across California and the nation.
One guy was earning close to a million dollars and the police chief of this small city was earning almost double the salary of the chief for Los Angeles.
These guys also have iron clad contracts so even after Bell is rid of them they will continue to earn several hundred grand per year in perpetuity in pension payments from California for the rest of their lives. Millions and millions of dollars!
“You get what you pay for.” Stated the arrogant city administrator; Well he’s close; actually you get who you vote for, in this case the corrupt city council members.
It was the city council who was supposed to be earning about 10 grand a year but instead was making that per month.
They got around the law by paying themselves the majority of their ill-gotten income through a scheme that put them in charge of sham committees that met for as little as a couple of minutes per month.
These council members were the wink and a nod stooges who voted the salaries and other benefits to the police chief and city administrators who between the 3 of them were taking in close to 2 million per year.
The city council then fired their police force who they believe leaked the salary information to the Times when the council threatened to contract out law enforcement services to the County Sheriffs.
But back to foster care. Let’s examine the parallels.
- A hand-picked board of directors (like the Bell City Council) who get favors and under the table deals votes on huge and extraordinary salaries to CEO’s, assistants and other cronies who work for a Foster Care agency.
- The city council …er (Agency)Board of Directors meets monthly to ratify and vote on pretty much whatever the CEO wants in exchange for undocumented under-the-table swag that snooker eagle-eyed county auditors that need a tree to hit them in the head before they spot the forest.
- This goes on for years or decades and both CEO’s, cronies and Board Members are considered pillars of the community, raise charitable donations from local businesses and individuals, and do radio and print interviews with journalists who couldn’t in a million years imagine anything shady going on.
- The money is siphoned, sucked, stolen from our most vulnerable, in this case Abused and Neglected children.
- The CEO’s run their agencies like a personal fiefdom, firing ‘at will’ employees whenever they get too close, too greedy or too lazy, and put the whole scheme at risk.
Indeed it is increasingly difficult for some agencies to prove (beyond scribbled time cards) that some of the executives are actually doing and working the hours they are supposed to.
Some of these “full time paid – semi-retired executives,” know where all the skeletons are. They can’t get them out so there remains an uneasy truce with all sides waiting for the other shoe to drop year after year. (In this case the shoe is a competent forensic audit).
And it rarely drops. And when it does the reprobates will only be mildly penalized for the year or two they are audited. The decades of misbegotten payments remain theirs to keep.
This is tax money. These are not for profit businesses. If it was a normal business, – all the power to ya… Free enterprise, we love it.
Maybe it’s just me, but taking money from abused children is like “putting stumbling blocks before the blind.” It bothers me. It bothers me a lot.
This is the pattern in Los Angeles County. This is the history.
So, if I were one of the top dogs at Hannah’s Children’s homes, America Care, Homes of Hope, Wings of Refuge, Children’s Way, Futuro Infantil Hispano, Nuevo Amencer, and frankly, perhaps a dozen or so others…well I’d be a bit concerned.
We know who you are.
Kiana Barker the alleged killer of Viola Vanclief is back in jail. So is her boyfriend James Julian. You can read the story here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-child-death-20100720,0,611562.story
If I were a lawyer or investigator I’d like to know a few things:
Did disgraced United Care administrator Tamara Komashko tell the foster care social worker to only visit Viola and family at the United Care office since the social worker didn’t think Barker’s home was a safe and proper location?
Did the foster care social worker warn Ms. Komashko in an email that the foster home had significant and dangerous problems? If there is an email we should see it.
Did Ms. Komashko and disgraced CEO of United Care Craig Woods know that Kiana Barker was living with a felon?
Exactly how complicit or negligent is the staff from United Care and DCFS in Viola’s death? Would this angle still be alive had they done their jobs? And is that a fair assessment?