San Bernardino County just hates it when its dirty little secrets get exposed. And Fox News is doing just that. The story about the San Bernardino County Department of Children and Family Services has prompted a list of talking points being prepared for county employees to use if contacted by the media. The list is prefaced with this (in pertinent part):
Last night’s segment was sensational and graphic, with the gist being the County “ignored evidence of abuse and let children die.” The report also confirmed indications that the station had no intention of airing a fair story: The reporter said she investigated for three months, but she did not contact the County until three days before the story aired, when she did contact the County she would not ask specific questions or cite specific cases, and she never asked for any documents to verify the accuracy of what she received from her confidential sources.
CFS is verifying the authenticity of the cases, documents, and photos shown during last night’s broadcast. We now also have a better idea of which specific cases they will examine in future reports and we will do our best given confidentiality requirements to portray them in an accurate light.
The CEO has scheduled a meeting with County Counsel and CFS leadership on Monday morning to review the status of this situation. The CEO will brief Board members following the meeting.
The county, via PIO David Wert, went on to say that the county is not comfortable subjecting county personnel to on-camera interviews with Fox 11. I can’t imagine why.
What completely ticks me off about this is that children have died and all the county is interested in protecting its image, not taking care of those managers and administrators who allowed it to happen. Here is the email I sent to Chairman of the Board James Ramos this afternoon:
Dear Supervisor Ramos,
I viewed the Fox News LA report today regarding the Department of Children and Family Services. Although I was in no way a part of that nor did I know the whistleblowers went to Fox News LA, I am not surprised.
They came to me last year, along with other social workers who I know from my employment with the county, concerning the problems with management and supervisors at DFS, especially the Victorville office. Having myself tried to get someone in the county to listen about these issues since 2006, I understood their frustration. I personally spoke to Mark Uffer about the issues back in 2006 and later, only to have it all swept under the rug. This has been going on for a long time.
Just so you know, not only was I a mandated reporter when I was an Employment Specialist, but even after I left the county, I continued to do what was known as TDM’s (team decision making) for CFS in my role as a sexual assault counselor with San Bernardino County Sexual Assault Services. I finally had to give it up because it caused me nightmares knowing what was happening with these children.
So, this time around, I decided to submit it all to the Grand Jury. I hoped the investigation was going on, and I see it is, based on the information in the report.
I have now seen information that suggests to me the county is continuing to try to cover up its misdeeds with spin and deflection. That is so wrong.
I’ve been writing about the misdeeds of Linda Haugan and her subordinates for a very long time. I don’t make this stuff up. It is all either things I personally experienced or that I have documentation to show it is true.
As an elected official, you should NOT be trying to protect Haugan, Devereaux or any of the others who have kept this dirty little secret for so long. It is your duty to protect the residents of this county. I hope you will not allow Wert and others to continue to spin and deflect, but instead deal with this issue.
Children are dying because of the incompetence of those at the top of county administration. You, as chairman, should be not only concerned about, but also ashamed of, that fact.
I hope you will take appropriate action.
I know my email fell on deaf ears. The county always has to learn the hard way. It shall be interesting to see the findings of the Grand Jury report. I wonder if there will be any recommendation for criminal action. From what I know, there should be.