“Accountability starts at the top, and it's the governor's obligation to know what is going on in his state agencies,” White said. “The governor needs to be looking out for Texas kids. As governor, I would do everything in my power to guarantee their safety, and to ensure that crimes against children are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
On April 26, 2010, Rick Perry first said he'd refuse to debate until Bill White released his tax returns:
“If he releases his tax returns, we'll be happy to talk about debate dates,” said Miner.
Now that Bill White has released his tax returns, Rick Perry must agree to debate. And there are many questions he will have to answer — questions we will be highlighting every day until the Texas press corps finally asks them and Rick Perry finally answers them.
First and foremost are questions about what Rick Perry knew about the 250 cases of abuse and mistreatment at residential treatment centers in Houston, which the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle reported on over the weekend.
Residential treatment center records reviewed by the Chronicle and the Tribune show state investigators confirmed hundreds of violations from mid-2008 through April of this year — at least 250 of them involving abuse, neglect and mistreatment. All of those centers remain in operation today.
Workers choked and punched kids to get them to behave. Children who were supposed to be supervised attempted suicide. Kids were threatened with corporal punishment and forced to strip down to their underwear so they wouldn’t run away. In some cases, residents engaged in sexual acts with peers, with staff members and, in one case, with a staffer’s relative.
The Department of Family Protective Services, which investigated the cases, claims to have notified law enforcement of some of the cases, yet can offer no proof:
DFPS officials say they referred the Daystar matter to local law enforcement. But both the Manvel Police Department and the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office say they never received any notification.
DFPS refused to release the report it filed with law enforcement and said it couldn't prove notification was sent; the agency deletes all faxed records after 30 days.
The cover-up by the Department of Family Protective Services is unacceptable. It is, however, the latest in a series of cover-ups carried out by Rick Perry's state agencies. As Joe Holley of the Houston Chronicle noted in his quick story yesterday, “White claims Perry presides over scandal parade”:
White, in a statement, pointed to the 2007 Texas Youth Commission sexual abuse scandal and the fight club scandal that surfaced a year ago at Corpus Christi State School, a facility operated by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Perry's office took action in both cases after the media brought both to light.
With the latest scandal, Rick Perry must answer the questions:
- When was Rick Perry and his office told about the child abuse at residential treatment centers?
- What was he told about, and what actions did he take to investigate the instances?
- If Perry didn't know about it, why did the state agency he oversees not tell him about it, and what will he do to ensure that never happens again in the future?
Those questions should be asked, unless the press corps also doesn't talk about fight club: