I have served in the Senate for 18 years and I have studied state government for longer than that.
For me, adherence to constitutional principles and government restraint are two of the most important drivers in what makes government work. But to have that be the case...THERE MUST BE ACCOUNTABILITY.
Let's talk briefly about the best and the worst.
The Washington State Patrol rates highest in Accountability
Hands down. This government agency has a system of rules that employees follow. In its military like functioning:
1.Everyone knows the rules for behavior and accountability. If you violate the rules you are written up.
2.If you want to move up the ranks you have to qualify! You take a written test for a score and you go before a review board for a verbal interview and yet another score. YOU COMPETE FOR OPEN POSITIONS.
3.When it comes to law enforcement this department demands of itself what it demands of the people...adherence to rules.
4.Everyone knows who is responsible for what...and where. Boundaries of jurisdiction are set. Each person has a different buck on the desk. They know what stops where.
5.Ultimately, the chief is responsible for the functioning of the department. And, the chief has no problem accepting that responsibility.
6. The department is relatively small (1,200 troopers) and close. In August, when the son of a trooper fell asleep at the wheel...everyone in the patrol knew about that. They pitched in and helped the family during the vigil. They helped pay expenses. And, they eventually shared tears at the funeral. The chief was there. I saw him...the victim was one of the most perfect members of my family. He was also a part of the State Patrol family.
The Department of Social and Health Services...Child Protective Services is the Least Accountable
1. DSHS is a huge agency...many thousands of workers do a fine job. But they are self regulated. And there are those at the top who do not attempt to correct the errors of the errant. In the following example you will note an employee who was lying to a supervisor. There was no reprimand. There was no note in the file. In other words....there was no accountability.
EXAMPLE: When the good grandparents of little three-year-old Lisa (name changed) were allowed their third supervised visit in nine months, the social worker showed up 20 minutes late. And, the grandparents were not allowed to make up the 20 minutes at the end of the visit. I personally reported that to a "higher up."
"Oh, let me call the social worker and ask about this," I was told by the high level bureaucrat.
"Thank you," I replied...with an ace in my pocket.
RING.....RING.... "Well, I called and she said she was only 5 minutes late. She said it was no big deal."
I replied, "Well, I had a private investigator sitting in a car by the daycare center. Let me get him on the phone. He was there when your worker arrived."
DON'T YOU JUST HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS?!
Let me be clear...if an employee lies...there should be consequences. That...is what accountability demands of you if you are the leader. Robin Arnold William, Director of DSHS, does not hold any of her employees accountable that I can tell, though she does punish them if they are honest in answers to legislative inquires.
Government servants in CPS have ignored state laws and yet Williams seems unconcerned. She and her high level bureaucratic staff "don't get involved at that level" (to quote Cheryl Stephanie #2 at CPS). But, more on that later.
BOTTOM LINE: I think the State Patrol should handle child protective cases. They are a disciplined bunch. They know and follow the law. They are accountable to their "higher ups" and they are better trained to know the difference between the bad guys and the good. CPS should be broken out of DSHS. This $6 billion dollar a year agency is dangerously big and without substance at the top.
(Please read a previous blog to be reminded of the 8 dead children in Region 5 since the beginning of the year. Lack of accountability has a trickle down effect.)