INdiana Systemic Thinking

February 16, 2008

Follow Up: Lennington Gives Up Tax Court

Following up on my posts here and here, the Muncie Star Press is reporting:

Delaware County Circuit Court 5 Judge Wayne Lennington has relinquished jurisdiction over all cases related to tax sales, a week after acknowledging he was the target of a criminal investigation that involves his personal investments.

All five Delaware Circuit Court judges, including Lennington, signed an order Wednesday that transferred tax sale cases to the other four courts, and allowed the re-assignment of criminal cases from Lennington’s court at Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney’s discretion.

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February 2, 2008

Child Porn @ Work Not Illegal

According to the St. Joe County Prosecutors Office, if your surfing the net for porn at work and child porn pop-ups, or pop-unders, appear, you are not guilty of a crime.  Good to know.  Can we please just make a law against stupid people and get it over with?  I mean I get the point, the guy wasn’t intentionally looking for child porn, but he was being stupid by looking for porn at work.  I just don’t get it.  I mean if you want to look at porn at home, more power to you, but why bring it into the workplace?  From the South Bend Tribune:

A former YWCA employee has been cleared of charges of possession of child pornography after prosecutors determined the images appeared on his computer without his consent.

Catherine Wilson, a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor, said investigators determined that John B. Penney, 55, was not looking for child pornography when the images appeared on his computer.

Wilson said the images of child pornography found on Penney’s work computer “almost certainly were the result of ‘pop-up’ or ‘pop-under’ windows generated during other online searches” for adult pornography.

Penny was a legal advocate for the YWCA who lost his job after the images allegedly surfaced on his work computer.

Deputy Prosecutor Eric Tamashasky said on Thursday that Internet users should be cautious when surfing the Internet to avoid coming across illegal material, such as child pornography. He said users of adult pornography run a higher risk of accidental exposure to illegal material.

No, really?  Sheesh.

January 11, 2008

Charity Bailey’s Records Released: Police @ Phoenix

Last week Charity Bailey’s records were released from the Marion County Juvenile court.  According to the Indianapolis Star:

The 20-year-old Indianapolis woman now sits in a jail cell, accused along with her live-in boyfriend of killing her 3-year-old daughter, TaJanay, in November.
Bailey’s alleged role in TaJanay’s death is the latest twist in a troubled life detailed in an unusual release of juvenile delinquency records Friday.
Those records reveal a childhood fraught with drugs, sexual abuse and family discord — and a long list of interventions that failed to turn around her life.

The article is really long and almost…almost…makes one feel sorry for her.  It’s a good example of what we in the therapy world call transgenerational issues.  Simply put, the term means issues that travel from on generation to the next.  It’s not an excuse for behavior, because every adult can change their circumstances, but an explanation for how these things happen.

On a related note, the Indy Star has another story about the police and prosecutor opening offices in the Phoenix apartment complex where Tajanay died.

December 28, 2007

Police, Open for Business at Phoenix

WTHR and the Indy Star are both carrying stories about the Indianapolis Police Department opening a “command center” at the Phoenix Apartments.

From the Indy Star:

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced Wednesday it will soon open a command center within the Phoenix Apartments, the Northeast-side complex where a 3-year-old’s recent death drew attention to its chronic poverty and crime problems.
Sheriff Frank Anderson, in announcing IMPD’s plans, called the apartment complex “a microcosm of all the problems facing our city: drugs, crime, unemployment, undereducation, hunger and poverty.”
The command center, he said, will help the department step up its efforts to increase patrols and build relationships between police officers and the complex’s residents.
The Phoenix’s Edgemere Court, where TaJanay was living with her mother and Green, is the site of more violent crimes than any residential block in the city. A recent Indianapolis Housing Agency study found 421 crime reports in the past 18 months.
As the reader will recall, Phoenix Apartments was the location where 3 year old TaJanay Bailey died, allegedly at the hands of her mother, Charity Bailey, and her boyfriend, Terence Green.  Carl Brizzi, Marion County Prosecutor also announced plans to open a mobile office there as well.

December 22, 2007

Phoenix Makes Deal

The troubled apartment complex in Indianapolis were 3 year old TaJanay Bailey died, allegedly at the hands of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, will repay some money and offer some new services.

The company that owns the Phoenix Apartments will weed out felons living illicitly in the crime-ridden complex and provide life-skills counselors for welfare tenants under a sweeping agreement negotiated Friday with public officials in Indianapolis.

Connecticut-based RCM Phoenix Partners’ deal with the Marion County prosecutor’s office and Indianapolis Housing Agency, set to take effect Wednesday, is part of a push by public officials to stamp out crime in and around the Phoenix.

The Indianapolis Housing Agency investigated RCM Phoenix, finding the landlord had breached Section 8 rules. It had not disclosed its ownership of the property for more than a year and had leased Section 8 apartments to unqualified tenants.
The Housing Agency filed an administrative notice Dec. 5, demanding that the landlord return $318,000 in federal welfare rent payments. That led to negotiations this week with RCM Phoenix attorneys, culminating in Friday’s agreement.
The deal shows RCM Phoenix agreed to return $141,749 on apartments it rented out under the program managed by the Housing Agency. It was not clear why the settlement was lower than what the agency asked for.
According to the agreement, RCM Phoenix will take on a range of obligations. They include:
The landlord will provide an apartment in a prominent location for two Family Self Sufficiency Center counselors, whose salaries will be funded for up to six months by RCM Phoenix.
RCM Phoenix will pay up to $45,000 in salaries for the pair, while public officials will seek permanent funding. Counselors would advise tenants on finding work, training and health care and on dealing with emergencies.
The landlord will pay for a trailer on the premises to house the deputy prosecutor, and, if requested, provide an apartment for the prosecutor to use as an office.
RCM Phoenix will gather all tenants for a meeting to explain the “one-strike rule.” This means tenants convicted of a felony will be evicted from welfare rentals.
The landlord also will take steps to screen current tenants and evict felons.
Social service agencies welcomed RCM Phoenix’s decision to accept the agreement. The deal maintained the firm’s status as a Section 8 landlord at a time when poor families and shelters cannot easily find enough subsidized housing.
“It is horrific when marginalized families are caught in the middle of things,” said Bill Bickell, director of Holy Family Shelter and Holy Family Transitional Housing, which steers families to long-term Section 8 residences. “There isn’t enough (Section 8 housing) in the city as it is.”
The entire story is here.

December 21, 2007

Carl Brizzi Opens Office At Phoenix

When I first read this story, the jaded part of me thought this is a stunt to “show” constituents Carl Brizzi was “trying to do something” and this will last about six months before the publicity is over and he’ll pull up stakes and move on to the next high profile publicity stunt.  Actually, that was not my first thought.  My first thought was lets start a poll to see how long this “office” is around before it is stolen.  Then, as I pondered it a little more I thought, well what else can Brizzi do?  He can’t order the police, or anyone else, to do something.  All he can do about the mess at Phoenix apartments is what he can control.  The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.  Here we have someone who said something needed to be done, and he is doing what he can.   

From this story in the Indy Star: 

Brizzi said a 500-square-foot portable office will be installed in the middle of the complex, taking his office’s community prosecution unit to the micro-level. Prosecutors, investigators and staff members will take turns working at the Phoenix on cases including child support, domestic violence and the screening of criminal charges.

For those who have not  followed the story, Phoenix apartments is an apartment complex in Indianapolis known for high crime, domestic disputes, and sadly, the place where three year old Tajanay Bailey died, allegedly at the hands of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

If everyone in a position of authority were to do “what they could”, the mess at Phoenix would be cleared up in about a week.  Other politicians should take note of what Brizzi is doing here and follow his lead.  He is to be congratulated for his efforts.

December 9, 2007

Judge in Bailey Case to Convene Meeting

The Blogmeister cannot really disagree with the thought here, but it seems like a bit of grandstanding by the Judge in this case.  It is really her responsibility to get this done?  On the other hand, no one else it talking about this, so maybe it is appropriate for her get the ball rolling.  However, it doesn’t really address the issues that led to the death of TaJanay Bailey.

Dateline Indianapolis.  In a story in the Indianapolis Star, Judge Marilyn Moores is reported as wanting to convene a meeting to discuss “communication gaps” between police and Department of Child Services staff in the TaJanay Bailey case.  Apparently, she wants a free flow of information between the two departments.  

“Police currently have no way of knowing whether children at homes where they respond to calls are involved with the Department of Child Services and need special attention.”

In the aftermath of the 3-year-old’s Nov. 27 death, officials have learned of two instances when an exchange of information between agencies might have resulted in her removal from the home where prosecutors say she was tortured and killed. 

Um yeah, not really.  What really would have helped is if a DCS Supervisor who never met the child or the family, would have listened to the people directly involved with the case and not “minimized” their concerns…but thats another issue for another time. 

 Similarly, DCS Director James W. Payne said that if his agency had known about the Nov. 10 case, that information might have changed the agency’s stance about leaving TaJanay and her 6-month-old half brother, Lawrence Green Jr., with the couple.

Might?  Come’on Mr. Payne, you know your person (the supervisor) screwed up. Please stop trying to dilute the blame.  There was more than enough reason to remove the child even without knowing the police were called twice.

Moores thinks part of the solution may be close at hand. By using a mechanism that already exists in the county’s emergency response computer system, she said, it could be possible to alert police when a family has an open child welfare case.

The system used by the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Agency allows for special messages to be stored by address and called up whenever authorities are sent there.

That is used now to alert police or fire units about hazards at certain addresses, Moores said, so why not allow DCS to store messages in the computer asking officers to contact a family’s case manager after any police run to the home?

Moores learned about the possibility Friday from her nephew, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer, the judge said. In her mind, she said, only the logistics remain to be worked out.

Yeah, sounds simple, no so much.  First, there are questions about the family’s confidentiality, which the Blogmeister believes is protected by the Indiana Code.  There would need to be changes there first.  Second, what about “informal” cases, where the family has voluntarily agreed to engage in services and have not been ordered by a court?  Would their confidentiality be jeopardized as well?  Wouldn’t that cause more people not to voluntarily seek services?  Third, ever try to call a DCS caseworker?  Unless you like talking to voice-mail and waiting 2 weeks for a callback, don’t bother.  So, it’s a tad bit more involved than simple “logistics”.  Besides, this was a very minor wrinkle in an already screwed up case. 

So Friday afternoon, Moores fired off an e-mail inviting key police and DCS officials to meet with her Monday. Within an hour, several told the judge they would be there or send representatives.

It will be a big job, though Moores said the system might be used only for high-risk cases.

Which apparently TanJanay’s wouldn’t have been classified as, since she was back at home and DCS wanted to terminate the case.

DCS spokeswoman Susan Tielking applauds any move to improve communications.

Of course she does, it takes the focus off the supervisor at DCS who is really responsible for this. 

Tielking said she expects the agency’s review of TaJanay’s case to lead to a call for better information-sharing, both inside and outside the child welfare system.

And not address any of the real issues…that one person in a position of authority can think they know best, despite what at least three other people are telling them, and cause harm to a child.

Payne added that [Carl] Brizzi [Marion County Prosecutor] appears to be correct about the agency’s failure to make a report to police after the May 2006 incident in which a doctor found TaJanay had been abused.

Hmm, another mistake, imagine that. 

The Blogmeister really, really, really does not enjoy pointing these things out.  DCS just makes it so easy.  Please, everyone address the problems and stop skirting around them with side issues.  Long story short, the Supervisor messed up.  Send a message to other employees of DCS…you screw up and a kid gets killed, your fired.  FSSA does that with people who steal a few thousand dollars, isn’t this a little inconsistent…Steal, your gone, make a bad call instead of playing it safe and protecting the child, you keep your job, your insurance, and we’ll protect you, by the way, take a few days off too.

December 3, 2007

Brizzi Disses DCS, Gov. Rumored Not Happy

The Blogmeister was not going to post on this story from yesterday, but then the rumor mill started churning….plus it’s a little slow today.

In an article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette yesterday;

“Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi stopped short Friday of saying Department of Child Services staff acted criminally but said foster parents of other children have contacted his office to complain that the state agency, despite extensive reforms, continues to place youngsters in danger.”

This was in response to the death last week of TaJanay Bailey.

“Brizzi, speaking to reporters after a court hearing for the girl’s mother and her boyfriend, said he did not want to condemn state workers who “are trying to do their best with limited resources.”

“My hope is that a little girl’s death isn’t meaningless. We can’t bring her back. We can put these two individuals away for the rest of their lives,” Brizzi said. “But if it doesn’t actually change the system, if it doesn’t make it better, if it doesn’t fill in the gaps, then we’re not doing our job.”

“DCS spokeswoman Susan Tielking… said it was premature to make conclusions, but the agency still was implementing the reforms Daniels ordered when he took office in January 2005.”

Over the weekend, Gov. Mitch Daniels is rumored to have expressed his displeasure with Brizzi.  From the Taking Down Words blog;

“His Mitchiness, in front of a crowd of Republicans at an event over the weekend, allegedly ripped into Brizzi, ostensibly for not towing the company line.”

Read the whole post here.

The Blogmeister finds it interesting the Governor’s office and DCS didn’t mention it “was implementing the reforms Daniels ordered” when they accepted an award for their reforms, the same day TaJanay died.

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