March 21, 2011

Detached from Reality in the Lock City

Last Wednesday, Lockport Council President Richelle Pasceri introduced a resolution urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to fire Commissioner of Children & Family Services Gladys Carrion for, among other things, failing to introduce any reforms at the Office of Children & Family Services following the murder of group home worker Renee Greco. Since the group home where Greco was killed was in Pasceri’s district, you might say she has some concerns about the issue.

Media reports and inside information tell us the resolution was virtually identical to one passed earlier this month by the County Legislature. We should note that the Legislature passed it unanimously. As in, Dennis Virtuoso even voted for it.

If anyone has made a career of standing athwart common sense yelling “Stop!” it’s Virtuoso. And yet, even he grasps just how dangerous Gladys Carrion’s tenure really has been. Why, Google her name, or the name of her agency, and one embarrassing story after another comes up:

Lap dances for juvenile delinquents.

Murder plots involving knives and bombs at an Erie County group home.

Sobbing in her car over how depressing youth incarceration facilities are.

A rash of videotaped incidents where the lives of OCFS staffers were endangered by violent youth.

Add to all that the fact that, for Lockport, the effects of Carrion's reign are easy enough to see, and you realize that voting yes on Pasceri's resolution was a no-brainer.
So, what was Alderman Andrew Chapman’s take on Pasceri’s resolution? In the words of US&J reporter Joyce Miles:

He said he’d vote “no” if it went to the floor Wednesday night, because he didn’t know whether he really agrees with it or not — and got two other aldermen thinking aloud about voting no for the same reason.

The other two were Chapman’s enablers, Jack Smith, who has made increasing welfare housing in Lockport his sole reason for existing, and Flora McKenzie, who went on an
diatribe about whether the criminal justice system is fair to black defendants, which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with Pasceri’s resolution.

Of course, Buffalo News reporter Tom Prohaska may have written a far more damning synopsis:
Smith and Chapman said they weren’t given enough opportunity to read the resolution and determine if the charges were factual.

If the charges were "factual"? We’ll leave it to Renee Greco’s family to answer that one.

Seriously...where have they been throughout this entire ordeal? There is nothing wrong with doing due diligence, but this story has been in the headlines for nearly three years. It is your job as an elected official to not only have the pulse of your own constituency, but also to have a thorough understanding of any and all issues of relevance, whether they be local, county, school district, state or federal, within the area you are serving.

To state, at this point, that they need to determine if the charges against Carrion are factual shows a huge disconnect between these three aldermen and the community. There are entities across the entire state calling on Carrion to be fired - except in the community that saw the most heinous example of Carrion's failed leadership. There should have been no hesitancy on their part whatsoever. The fact that there was seriously raises the question of their ability to lead their community.

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