By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
An agency's agony: I worked for Children's Protective Services for almost a year. I just wasn't tough enough to put up with the day-in and day-out horrors we faced. I quit. I have never worked with a more dedicated, less appreciated group of people. They are, as far as I'm concerned, the best of the best. They go into rat-infested buildings, deal with people messed up on God knows what substances -- all with the interests of children in mind.
Dylan Otto Krider's article ["Wrong Call?" September 27] was another slap in the face of these underpaid people. Just by reading the article, there appeared to be abuse or neglect. Had CPS taken the children back in 1999, I can assure you that a court would have given custody to the grandparents.
The average person can't fathom the number of reports each caseworker is assigned each day. If there is no danger, abuse or neglect, CPS can't dress in ninja outfits, swoop in and steal the children.
In the Andrea Yates case, I don't believe that mistake was made. The demise of these children came two years after the CPS report. In 1999 we had no crystal ball or Miss Cleo. Their family situation apparently deteriorated later.
Dan Willbur was my training supervisor. We developed a work relationship and weren't "good buddies." I was always impressed with his logical decisions and his ability to explain exactly what our role was. His knowledge of CPS and its policies was impeccable.
If sources have something to say, they have "whistle-blowers' protection." The anonymous source in the article added nothing new -- in an organization composed of human beings, some mistakes are made. Perhaps Willbur stepped on his toes, but at least have the guts to give your name.
Considering the caseload, the unbelievable stress, the sounds of children screaming in agony, I believe that the agency does the best it can. I'm just sorry I wasn't tough enough to make it.
Angst over APS: It seems our "protective" agencies make a lot of "wrong calls" these days. I'm still bristling over several calls made by the Adult Protective Agency (APS) last year. A family member gave a false report about other family members concerning the welfare of a senior relative. APS was also told the senior had no funds for food, etc., which was also false.
The complaining relative ensconced herself as principal caregiver. As a result, the senior received substandard care for the remainder of her life -- the "caregiver" broke every rule on APS's Web site, and APS upheld her in doing so! Numerous people called APS and told them what was happening, with no results. In fact, several were treated quite rudely by APS.
If these agencies are supposed to be protecting our children and elderly, they are failing miserably, to say the least.
Lord, protect me from "protective" agencies!
Name withheld by request
Skirting the Issue
Grassroots gem: How unfortunate that in Johnny Soto's attempt to cover himself, he marred the good name of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials ["Follow the Money," by Tim Fleck, October 4]. This organization has bent over backward to remain nonpartisan. It has worked tirelessly in the Latino community and has been the strongest presence with voter registration, voter education and naturalization efforts.
I know this because I have personally volunteered with NALEO since its 1993 Houston inception. Since 1994, NALEO's "Get Out the Vote" drives have been short on empty rhetoric and long on effective action. That was true in 1997, when Soto and Councilmember Castillo's office were nowhere in sight during a daylong voter registration drive. NALEO has never received financial or volunteer support from any Houston-area Latino elected official.
NALEO works tirelessly with a quiet strength with real folks, in real communities, to make a powerful difference. Many are quick to appear at press conferences or fancy receptions, but when it's time to "roll up your sleeves" and work hard in the hot sun, few are to be found.
If Soto has nothing to hide and can stand alone in his honesty and integrity, he should be man enough to not have to resort to lying or trying to hide behind the skirt of a credible and respectable organization like NALEO. "By their actions shall ye know them!"
Good deeds on the stand: Attorney Matt Hennessy draws the conclusion that officers have an incentive to arrest as many persons as possible to increase the need for their testimony and thereby make them overtime money ["Driving Miss D.A.-isy," by John Suval, October 4]. I think we're looking at just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to misarranged incentives in the courtroom. For instance, all prosecutors want to do is get convictions to further their careers.
Do you think they really care if the party is guilty? Hell, no. So justice is wasted in the name of career-ladder climbing. Don't even get me started on defense lawyers. It does not take a genius to figure out that the more crimes that are being committed the more work they will have.