Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jeb Bush's Reformer Myth

Jeb "Jebbie" Bush - who is campaigning without using his last name when possible - is trying to (a) market himself as a "reformer" and (b) trying to distance himself from his brother's disasters Iraq and Afghanistan (and the 2008 financial meltdown).   In reality, Jebbie is offering little more than a warmed over version of his brother, the Chimperator's, failed policies.  Indeed, he is even surrounding himself with many of the same failed advisers as his brother, including those who took the nation into the Iraq War disaster.  A piece in Politico looks at the myth that Jebbie is spinning that he is a reformer.  The true picture is that Jebbie surrounded himself with cronies and corrupt individuals and even appointed a far right Christian extremist to head up the state Department of Children and Families.   And in the area of justice, young blacks had a mysterious pattern of dying in state custody.  Here are excerpts:

In his highly touted speech on government reform this week, Jeb Bush accused President Barack Obama of waiting too long to remove tainted appointees, saying he would take on “Mount Washington” in the same way he made “Mount Tallahassee” more accountable when he was governor of Florida.

But Bush’s eight-year record shows he often stood by appointees who were mired in scandal or mismanagement until long after damaging revelations emerged, and in only three reported instances clearly fired agency heads — including one in the wake of a sexual harassment allegation and another who was implicated in a kickback scheme.

Meanwhile, Bush stood behind embattled appointees at the Department of Children and Families — even amid revelations that the agency lost track of 515 children under state care, including a child who was murdered. He supported his corrections chief throughout a scandal involving guards engaging in beer-soaked brawls, stealing state property, selling steroids and impressing inmates into forced labor. Bush finally fired the prison chief, Jimmy Crosby, in early 2006 when it became clear he was part of a bribery and kickback scheme, for which he was later convicted.

The problems and controversies in running Florida government plagued Bush’s predecessors and successors. Even Bush’s critics acknowledge that his administration was hardly unique in having its share of scandals and managerial failures. But, they say, Bush is trying to rewrite history by suggesting he was far more willing to be held accountable than other political leaders.

Ron McAndrew, a Florida Republican who once backed Bush and had served as the warden of Florida State Prison, scoffed at Bush’s comment that he cracked down on “incompetence or scandalous behavior.”

“Jeb Bush has excellent experience with political hacks and crooks because he surrounded himself with them,” McAndrew, who was succeeded as prison warden by Jimmy Crosby, told POLITICO. “He has little experience with real accountability, taking responsibility or firing people who needed to be fired.”

Data breaches, but not hacking, happened on Bush’s watch in Florida as well. In 2006, the Florida Department of Management Services reported that the personal information of about 100,000 state employees was improperly sent to a subcontractor in India by the Convergys Corp.

The Bush administration at the time promised to strengthen security measures and monitor the case. But Convergys kept its $350 million contract despite other troubles managing the state’s human-resources system. Bush’s DMS agency head at the time, Bill Simon, kept his job and now heads a nonprofit political committee backing Bush’s presidential bid.

McAndrew, the former prisons chief, said he warned Bush officials not to pick Crosby as his successor because he was part of its corrupt culture, along with his longtime friend and ally, Allen “A.C.” Clark.  But Bush supported Crosby and Clark through various questionable activities.

One of the state legislators, Miami Republican Rep. Gus Barreiro, said at the time that FDLE agents seemed “more concerned about the critics of the boot camp than with the officers who beat Martin Anderson to death.”

[S]tate legislators accused the head of the Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversaw the boot camps, of lying to them as they investigated Martin’s death. Some called for the ouster of DJJ Secretary Anthony Schembri. Bush publicly supported him. One of Schembri’s predecessors at the agency, Bill Bankhead, had taken a different tack and quietly resigned in 2004 when another teen, Omar Paisley, died in agony from an untreated ruptured appendix in a state lockup where he was denied medical care.

Amid criminal investigations, dismissals of lower-level DJJ employees and public hearings, Bush stood by Bankhead.

Bush’s willingness to stand behind his DJJ appointees mirrored his posture after the disappearance of another child in state care, 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, rocked Bush’s Department of Children and Families in 2002.

Wilson’s death came after DCF case workers placed her in the care of a woman named Geralyn Graham, despite Graham having a history of fraud and having been diagnosed as psychotic. A case worker falsified reports and lied about having checked on Wilson in Graham’s care. By the time another DCF case worker took over the case, Wilson was gone. More than a decade later, Graham was convicted of torturing and murdering the child.

To replace Kearney, Bush tapped an Oklahoma official named Jerry Regier. A co-founder of the Christian conservative Family Research Council, Regier had once written that parental corporal punishment was acceptable — even if it left “bruises or welts” — statements that provoked swift criticism when Bush named him to head the child-welfare agency.

But Bush stood firmly behind him. Then, in August 2004, Regier announced his resignation after a scathing inspector general’s report criticized him for accepting gifts from lobbyists and for running an agency in which top administrators awarded big contracts to friends.

No comments: