SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 28, 2014

Our view: Patrick's pique won't cure what ails DCF

Faced with mounting criticism over his Department of Children and Families, Gov. Deval Patrick is putting on a display of personal pique, denial and condescension the likes of which we haven’t seen from a Massachusetts governor since the days of Michael Dukakis and the scandal over his Department of Correction and its prison furlough program.

That was more than 25 years ago.

Patrick sounded more than a little like Dukakis as he addressed a gathering of hundreds of “social workers and social-work students” Tuesday at the Statehouse, according to the State House News Service.

He told them they should get raises and more money and staff to do their jobs.

He also told them, in effect, that their critics are too simple-minded to understand what they do.

“You do the Lord’s work ... mental health, substance abuse issues. You’ve got a scourge of opiate use and abuse ... domestic violence, poverty,” Patrick told them, according to the State House News Service.

Patrick made it plain that those who dare question him and those who do the Lord’s work have gotten under his skin.

“And, frankly, a public that doesn’t understand the complexities of the population you serve, who look for simple answers; who look for short and quick answers; who look for a kind of a once over, easy, put-it back-in-the-box because it’s ugly and unattractive and complicated and difficult.”

You want to talk ugly, governor?

Let’s talk about the case of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg. Last December, his 7-year-old sister told school officials he was missing. It soon emerged his social worker hadn’t bothered to check in on him for months.

He is now feared dead.

Now that’s ugly, Gov. Patrick, far uglier than anything that’s been said about DCF.

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