Recent excerpts from Indiana editorials
Distributed by The Associated Press
Human toll of FSSA deal is laid bare
John Cardwell could be forgiven for gloating, but he’s doing nothing of the sort. “There are still people hurting,” said the long-time social services advocate. “There’s not much warmth in that satisfaction.”
A judge’s ruling last week, however, confirms what Cardwell and other critics warned about when Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration first proposed privatizing Indiana’s welfare system. Advocates charged in 2006 that a $1.6 billion contract with IBM was being pushed through without opportunity for public input and without a cost-benefit analysis.
But Mitch Roob, then the FSSA secretary, pushed ahead, to the detriment of low-income families, older Hoosiers and people with disabilities and — as the judge’s ruling shows — to the benefit of Affiliated Computer Systems, Roob’s former employer and the lead subcontractor in the project.
Cardwell, chairman of the Indiana Home Care Task Force, said the deal was “based on all the wrong motivations — to give contracts to private companies to make maximum profits off the misery of our poorest residents.”
Indeed, replacing county caseworkers with an automated call-center operation proved disastrous to a vulnerable population. It created immediate backlogs and left some Hoosiers without access to needed assistance.
When the problems and complaints became too serious to dismiss, the state went to IBM and ACS to fix them. Of 22 targeted problems, four remained when the state fired IBM in October 2009 — all of them the responsibility of ACS.
“According to state witnesses, ACS failed to make any serious effort with respect to its portion of the [plan] responsibilities, and was instead lobbying the state, directly and through its lobbyist, to replace IBM as the general contractor on the project,” Judge David Dreyer of Marion Superior Court wrote.
Richard Rhoad, a Fort Wayne businessman who resigned as chief financial officer for FSSA over his no-bid contract with the agency, figures into the case — this time working for Roob’s former employer.
“Rhoad, who was placed in charge of ACS’s corrective action plan efforts, was uncommitted to the [plan] and had absolutely no updates, no idea of what was going on. Instead, Mr. Rhoad, while nominally an ACS employee, maintained his office at the state with [FSSA Secretary] Anne Murphy’s executive team, and spent his time going behind IBM’s back to try to get IBM terminated,” according to the ruling.
In ordering the state to pay IBM an additional $12 million for breach of contract, Dreyer noted that the case was simply about contract performance but hinted that much more was at stake.
“Breach of public trust is not included here, consideration of private greed is not included here, nor is any measure of public injury,” he wrote.
The “public injury” is what keeps Cardwell from proclaiming “I told you so.”
“They took a system that was slow and kind of clunky and replaced it with a system that is still bad and only works now because hospitals and nursing homes and social service agencies have all added capacity to help the people they serve,” he said. “The best thing the (next) governor could do on day one is to put together a system based on helping people. We need to put the humanity back in the system.”
— The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne
What has happened to us?
The shooting rampage that descended on a Colorado movie theater Friday was the 10th incident since 1966 in America in which at least 11 persons were killed by a gunman.
Five of those massacres have taken place since 2007. Not included is the 2011 attack that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others, killing six.
What has happened to us as a society?
The question, on its face, is presumptuous. Bizarre acts of slaughter by individuals cannot be neatly traced to laws and culture; otherwise, they might be even more frequent. There is some grudging consolation in the fact that mass murder still is so uncommon as to be major news in places far from the scene of the crime.
At the same time, we are reminded by every Aurora and Columbine and Fort Hood and Virginia Tech horror that violence itself is not unusual. On our streets, in our homes, in our entertainment, real and simulated assaults on persons are pervasive.
We don’t know whether tighter restrictions on gun purchases may have thwarted the latest perpetrator, or at least reduced his firepower. We do know that gun laws, at the federal level and in most states, have been loosened in recent years, despite headlines about killers who accumulated arsenals and turned them on gatherings of innocents.
— The Indianapolis Star
Recent excerpts from Indiana editorials
- DODD: Graduating? Take my advice
- CHEERS AND JEERS — For May 25-26
- LETTER: Oklahomans need our help
- STAWAR: The lawns of summer
- NASH: The roads we must travel
- MAY: Simply remembering
- THEIR VIEW: Opinions from other newspapers for May 23
- ANDERSON: The Health Care Reform Act: Some facts to ponder
- NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For May 22
- BEAM: Lama, lama, tries to teach mama
- More Opinions Headlines