Wednesday, August 29, 2007

TYC FAQ document finally public

Here's a first report from this morning's hearing on the Texas Youth Commission.

Good News: The long-anticipated Frequently Asked Questions document from the Texas Youth Commission State of the Agency tour has finally been made public and put online. Here's the full document. I haven't had a chance to go through it but agency spokesman Jim Hurley just mentioned to me that they'd finally finished it in time for this morning's hearing. Give it a read and let us know what you think of their answers.

Meanwhile, Executive Director Dimitria Pope also mentioned two documents I've not seen that I'd like to be seen placed online:
  • Project Reform Update Aug. 13, 2007
  • Packet of supplemental information given to legislators
I'll see if I can lay my hands on those documents.

Pope and Owens took the mike first and began with a prepared statement then took questions. Rep. Debbie Riddle queried whether TYC was doing anything to force parents to take parenting classes, etc.. A fellow sitting next to me leaned over and asked, "What does that have to do with guards raping kids?" Honestly, I couldn't begin to tell you.

Rep. Riddle is right that when kids go home they often go back to problematic home situations, but while that's an important juvenile justice goal, I'm not sure it's responsive to the questions that arose out of the Pyote scandal. Pope said the Lege had funded family liaisons who should help youth stay in touch with their families and reintegrate more easily, as well as working closely with other organizations and state agencies.

Rep. Turner also expressed interest in spending resources to reintegrate kids with their families, but Chairman Whitmire said the agency may have to address the agency's fundamental problems before it would be possible to reintegrate youth, particularly keeping youth in facilities so far away their parents can't visit often even when they want to.

TYC has 396 employees with confirmed recent abuse allegations (they didn't say over what time period), according to the report given to the commitee. Rep. McReynolds asked for more detail on the disposition of those cases.

Sen. Hinojosa pointed out that none of the money to implement SB 103 officially becomes available until September 1, even though many of the bill's requirements took effect immediately upon passage.

Ed Owens mentioned that TYC began fingerprinting TYC volunteers in June to better facilitate more thorough criminal background checks.

Pope said that TYC has implemented new policies and processes to improve complaint procedures, but admitted under questioning from Rep. Turner that there has been no effort to determine whether employees who complained faced retaliation as a result.

Rep. Larry Phillips asked how long Owens anticipated TYC would be under conservatorship. He said that no end date was currently anticipated, and the decision to end the conservatorship lay with the Governor.

Owens said he was in the process of formulating his first Conservator's report, which was due under the conservator's statute on July 2, nearly two months ago. Owens declared "I wouldn't say that" when asked if the buck stops with him. Rep. Turner pointed out that Mr. Owens was appointed by Governor Perry, so that's who is ultimately responsible. Good point.

More updates soon from today's hearing.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm listening to the hearing and I've got to hand it to Pope, she is a good speaker. If I didn't know better, I would think she was actually communicating with employees. She said decisions are made after consulting with multiple divisions and input from the field. Sounds good, but that's not been my experience, nor from the comments posted in this blog, the experience of the majority of TYC staff.

Pope did take several shots at former management staff when defending the hiring of her TDCJ cronies, including the need to hire people willing to work '20 hr days'. So if you have a life outside TYC, you are not management staff material.

Explains why some good people have been summarily fired, they wanted a balanced life and to see their families. Wow, obviously they weren't qualified for their low paying government jobs.

She totally skirted the issue of hiring people with NO experience with juvenile corrections. Basically she said that we had people with that experience and and look what it got us, as a justification for hiring people without any experience.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Pope is quite articulate. Owens, on the other hand, is a buffoon. He's a wasted salary.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I take it you heard the swipe that Whitmire took at the blogs?

Anonymous said...

Pope just said that they are maintaining a lower than 12-1 ratio of JCOs to youth right now. HUH? And she stated that didn't include case workers or others, just JCOs. No way, not with all the turnover- the rate is higher than it was before.

Anonymous said...

Listening to the Pope speak, you would get the idea that TYC is 'fixed' now. Sure doesn't sound like the agency I work for at all.

actually outta here said...

How's this for a non-answer to the question "Why are personnel being hired without job postings, interviews, and in some cases no juvenile justice experience or other job related experience?"

"As described in the initial Rehabilitation Plan, past TYC executive administrative staff were passive and were either unwilling or not allowed to make critical decisions regarding operations of the agency. It was reported that oftentimes decisions put before them were not acted upon in a timely manner, forcing field staff to make decisions that may not have been consistent with policy.

While TYC has an abundance of staff who have juvenile justice experience, the agency needed depth in the organizational management and change in that management. Under the emergency powers of the Conservator, TYC brought in leadership who had strength and experience in leading large organizations through the change processes."

What utter crap. Yeah, we used to have staff with juvenile justice experience...before they all got forced out. And they didn't even come close to answering why they didn't bother with posting the jobs or following the other state hiring rules.

Anonymous said...

Pope says spray them if they're not participating in programmatic activities? OC pepper spray or any force is not to be used for punishment. Goodness gracious, lady!!

Anonymous said...

Pope just agreed to review each and every incidence of pepper spray usage. Bet there will be some surprises about how often it is being used. Last resort indeed. Riiiight.

Anonymous said...

Well, while they break, I have to ask a question about Harrell sitting up front. Does the guy even own a suit?

Anyway, talk about a rehearsed hearing. Hinojosa seemed to be pissed, though.

actually outta here said...

Is this hearing online? Anyone got a link?

Anonymous said...

Hearing is #7 http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.php

actually outta here said...

anon at 1:30...Thanks. I hope I'll be able to watch the whole thing at some point later this week. It sounds like it's just been too fun for words. *snort*

Anonymous said...

Hinojosa has the answer! All we have to do to fix all this is to involve the churches. Gosh, who could have known there was so simple an answer.

Anonymous said...

Guards raping kids? According to the media, Central Office and legislature, all problems were generated from WTSS, where the allegation (no trial yet) was ADMINISTRATORS having inappropriate relations with kids.
With the actual staffing ratios, seems D'Pope should be looking at JCO staff... they are already used to working 20 hour days and actually have some experience in juvenile corrections.

Anonymous said...

Scott, the link to the full document didn't work. Conspiracy or did they just not have any answers?

Anonymous said...

The link works fine for me. I'm glad to see the FAQs online.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The link worked for me. Try here.

Anonymous said...

The hearing today was more of a love fest than the bloodbaths during the legislative session. Its like they all took happy pills before the meeting. They bought everything da Pope was selling.

Anonymous said...

3:37 says: link works fine from home, but not at work... same for senate hearing webcast (which was available in Admin building)
....doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.....

Anonymous said...

ED : Quality of life for Staff and Youth has greatly improved over the last 100 days.........

GEEZ

Anonymous said...

hinojosa = idiot

Anonymous said...

I did not hear Pope answer a single question with a direct answer. She beat around the bush and never answered them. Why isn't Whitmire calling for her head to roll along with all the rest of her "new regime." Ms. Pope seemed to believe she is the cat's meow and much more! Wonder what led her to believe that! Could it be that the tone of voice when questioning her and her regime was totally different than the one used on the general public? She was all about "I" will take over on September 1st, me, me, me wonderful me, look at me, I'm so wonderful. Cat Litter if you ask me!!!

The general public needs to wake up and realize that we are paying high tax dollars to these people who are supposedly in charge of the incarcerated youth of Texas and they have no juvenile corrections experience!!!

As a tax payer, people I implore you to register to vote. Gather your family, friends, neighbors, enemies and vote these public servants out of office. That folks is TYC's only salvation!!!

Anonymous said...

I've been (naively) holding out hope that Pope will be gone soon. I guess that hope is misplaced.

I don't know how long I can take it with her there. She somehow managed to snow them into thinking she is doing something when anyone on the inside knows that isn't true. I don't know how many time Whitmire said it is better with these people. I still say - do a new survey. No way will it be better than the last time!

I like the senator (or rep) who said they (new admin)were looking at the flowers outside while the house was burning down. How come only one of them is smart enough to figure that out??

Anonymous said...

Wake up Texas! Is it going to take the death of a youth or staff for you to realize that Owens/Pope and company are as bad, if not worse than the former executive administration. It doesn't matter if you work 24-hour days, if you don't know what you're doing. A dumb ass working 8 hours is the same dumb ass working 20 or 24 hours. And what large organization did Pope manage? The RED Unit? If the committee were to actually look at what has, or better yet, hasn't changed, it would be easy to see that Pope, et al have basically done nothing more than provide high dollar jobs for their cronies who were going no place at TDCJ. Did any of the committee members think to ask to see any statistics that support the absurd notion that we are operating below the mandated 1:12 ratio? I think that line of crap only exists in Pope's mind. If caseworkers aren't being counted, why are did Eddie send a memo authorizing them to be paid for any overtime they accrue working in a JCO capacity? How many JCO's is Mart short? And I can't even begin to fathom that no one on the committe sees anything wrong with the fact that Mr. Ed has thumbed his nose at state statute regarding the required conservator's report that's two months overdue. He's working on it...come on. Anyone else using that kind of excuse wouldn't last a nanosecond if they tried it on Owens or Pope. One of my personal favorites was Hurley's comments on the TDCJ parole fiasco when he stated that Mr. Owens and Ms. Pope were unware of what was happening. It was all Marie Murdoch's fault. How could they not be aware? It's their job to know what's going on in the agency they're supposed to be responsibile for. They get paid a lot of taxpayer money and it would be nice if they did something to earn it.

Under Owen and Pope TYC has gone from a scadal ridden agency badly in need of reform to the juvenile justice laughing stock of the nation. Since the select committe appears poised to do nothing yet again, perhaps the answer lies in turning TYC over to the Feds and the DOJ. At least they finally got rid of their red herring (Alberto Gonzales). Maybe they'd have the balls to dump these TDCJ clowns and get to the business of actually fixing TYC.

Anonymous said...

Scott, please use whatever influence you have or can muster to recommend the survey 9:25 suggested. If the state auditor won't do it, suggest UT School of Social Work that does one every 2 years come up with a quick one. The process can be online and anonymous.
Of course Whitmire may be correct, except he fails to note that the ones who find it better weren't here before and the new ones are all in Austin with inflated salaries.

Anonymous said...

That FAQ is soooo bad. I personally like the one about keeping kids near home and putting them near gangs: "staff recognizes the disadvantages..." + "...staff are of the opinion that the therpeutic value..." Same "staff" different "staff"? Staff that have juvenile corrections training vs. staff who favor kissing Hinojosa's butt so he can keep Evins open despite riots, DoJ, drug and gang problems (and that is just the staff).

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one now feel like I know exactly what is going on now in the agency. And just when I was about to give up.

I wonder if Scott could get Hurley to give us a list of all the new people in new positions at TYC so we know who is in charge of what and who to contact in certain situations. Scott seems to be able to get more information that actual TYC employees can get - maybe it is because he doesn't have the threat of being terminated.

Anonymous said...

I have read the entire FAQ. The answers are sanitized to a fairthewell! They are meaningless double speak about the fact that nothing has been done.

Effective leadership with a clue could have changed the culture at TYC for the better by now. This bunch is just getting deeper and deeper into the muck.

Time for the legislature to cut their losses and hire some competent management with juvenile justice expertise.

This management has no clue about how to maanage change.

Anonymous said...

Senator Whitmire is rude, arrogant and power tripping. Anybody else notice he called Ms. Pope by her first name? How professional can one get.
( A little birdie said that Pope was named in Whitmire's divorce a few years back )

Anybody have access to the Harris County Divorce Court Records ??

You may understand then how she got to where she is today.........
;)

Anonymous said...

Senator Whitmire is rude, arrogant and power tripping. Anybody else notice he called Ms. Pope by her first name? How professional can one get.
( A little birdie said that Pope was named in Whitmire's divorce a few years back )

Anybody have access to the Harris County Divorce Court Records ??

You may understand then how she got to where she is today.........
;)

Anonymous said...

I always thought Sen. Whitmire was an honorable man, but after reading what I have just read, I am appalled at his behavior. You never, ever call anyone by their first name at any professional meeting no matter what. I am so disappointed in reading this about him, it certainly lowers him in my standards.

I have an idea, in order to get rid of all the trash appointed by Gov. Perry, while he has moved out of the mansion, someone change the locks. There is a petition going around quickly to impeach him. If this can be done, let's get it done!!

Anonymous said...

(repeated from today's post regarding best quote from the hearing)
Second best quote: "...it's all bullshit."

I had (admittedly minimal) hope that Whitmire would again call for heads to roll or at least hold TDCJjr accountable for delayed reports, no programs, no staff. Ah, the joys of delusional thinking.

Then, in the Statesman, the world became bright again, albeit for only a moment:
"Perrys to move out for Governor's Mansion improvements"
Amazing (I thought), he finally realized that leaving was the only answer to TYC's problems (not to mention the problems for the rest of the state).... or maybe somebody had told him the elections had been moved up a couple of years...

Reality hit; the building was being fixed, not the governor.

Oh well, 3 day weekend coming with a payday at the end of business on Friday... Tuesday hangovers aren't so bad.

Anonymous said...

I watched all 8+ hours of that nonsense - what a waste of taxpayer's dollars! What is with the lovefest between Whitmire and the new administration? The "tending the flowers" comment was the most intelligent thing to come out of that hearing. I used to have respect for Rep. Madden, but that went out the window with this one! We have elected a bunch of bozos to run our state government - on both sides of the aisle!

Anonymous said...

Someone ask Chuy if he's aware of the condition his little darlings at Evins left the Brownwood facility in when they had to be evacuated there re Hurricane Dean. Several rooms/areas are going to have to be totally revamped to get rid of the urine and feces odors left there in appreciation of their hosts. I guess he's so naive he thinks these kids can be 'counseled' into thinking they actually need to use the bathroom in a bathroom. Instead, again TYC employees get the blame for that. Our tax dollars at work........

Anonymous said...

20-hour days and this is all they have to show for it?. What are they doing up there?

I missed the hearings but will try to listen this weekend- but maybe someone call tell me- Did Whitmire ever ask anyone if they knew "how pitiful they sound?"

Anonymous said...

The 20hr Central Office - TYC workday:

8-9 - coffee and donuts
9-10 - call buddies in TDCJ to see if any are ready to come over to TYC and get a job they don't deserve nor have experience to hold.
10-12 - Meeting with other TYC folks on the team to see who we can target to fire this week.
12-2 - Working Lunch (eat, talk about the good ole days with the rest of the TDCJ crew.
2-4 - check emails, call buddies in the Lege to let them know which bar is having happy hour, check on progress of getting this week's target(s), come up with a bunch of lame rules/policies that nobody understands.
4-5 - turn off computer, go to restroom,(unless it is Pope, then go to restroom every hour on the hour), and change out of work clothes.
5-7 - go out to eat with the TDCJ crew and the rest of the cronies.
7-4 - hit the club, party the night away.

Anonymous said...

That document is embarrasing! I'm now really ashamed to tell people I work for TYC

Anonymous said...

20 hour days? Does that include the time she spends in the shopping malls?

Dirty Harry said...

In my unit, I can tell you that things are worse off than they ever were. It's just another dog and pony show with people in charge who don't have any idea what they're doing. They came in and fired most all of the administration (even the good ones) and just replaced them with some of the West Texas rejects who should have been run out of the system altogether. Now, we have no plan, students are not receiving services as required by law, office personnel and high-salaried support personnel are being required to serve as JCO's, and individuals are not being held accountable for their job duties.

The senate stipulated that education was going to be the driving factor in reforming these kids. Yet, in one unit, they have no principal, no vice-principals, and the superintendent doesn't know squat about education and is at war with the teachers.

Anonymous said...

I wish there were some way that Whitmire's side comments to Madden could be made available to the voters in Harris county. He basically called them stupid! He has no respect even for his own constituents.

Who's voting for him anyway - the people in the cemetery?