Friday, July 29, 2011

Robinsion fired as head of DSS: Something stinks

Sometimes it’s best to cut ties with a person who stirs more bad than good. This has been the week of firings. From pro athletes let go due to a new collective bargaining agreement that places a cap on team spending, to Butch Davis finally being sent out the door for a laundry list of no no’s at UNC, to Gerri Robinson getting fired by the politically constructed DSS board, we have seen our share of you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Wait a minute. Who that? Gerri Robinson, director of Durham DSS, was given the pink slip after less than two years of service in Durham. Those close to the drama at DSS aren’t surprised that ole girl was asked to take her show somewhere else. Many were confused, dismayed and bewildered when the DSS board decided to bring her to Durham after her turbulent stretch in Nashville, TN. The folks in the land of the Grand Ole Opry gave her the boot due to her inability to play nice with the board.

Many wondered if she would bring the same drama that led to her termination in Nashville. It didn’t take long for conflict to hit. Within months of her arrival members of the board were prepared to strike a match under her behind and set her on fire. Board members resigned in protest. The malfunction on the board was worsened by the talk of mismanagement within DSS. Something had to change. It did on Wednesday.

The firing of Robinson isn’t an issue of concern. What should raise a large red flag is the way it all happened. From all accounts, what happened in that meeting is a text book example on how to apply Machiavellian principles. The way the board was manipulated leaves one to wonder if County Commissioner Joe Bowser orchestrated a way to send Robinson packing.

The reason Bower gives for beginning his crusade is shaky at the best. He cites the case of Crystal Mangum’s children. Yes, here we go again. Mangum’s two children, ages 11 and 12, were staying with Liddie Howard while Mangum was in jail waiting to go to trial for murder. That was until District Court Judge Doretta Walker ordered temporary custody to the children’s father-Richard Ramseier.

Supporters of Mangum argued that Rameier is not fit to keep the children. He has no job, no home of his own and is staying with a couple in West Virginia. This is the point where it gets confusing. The Mangum backers begin a crusade against Robinson for failing to prevent Ramseier from taking custody of his children while mama is in jail. One has to question the validity related to expecting the head of DSS to go against the orders of a judge.

There may be credence to the argument that Robinson could have pressed the matter more; however, is that sufficient reason to force her out the door. Even more critical in this discussion is the lack of attention in cases similar to Crystal Mangum’s. If Bowser and other advocates for Mangum want to use her plight as reason for termination, I must ask why they couldn’t be found when other mothers and fathers needed the zeal of their protest.

Even more troubling is the decision to appoint Gail Perry as the interim director. Perry will assume her new role on August 8th. In the meantime, Jovetta Whiffield, child placement manager, will lead the organization. Note that it was child placement that led to the hammering of the last nail in Robinson’s casket. Perry was terminated after 37 years of service at DSS. Bowser claims it was due to her purchasing flowers for needy families, but the truth is locked in Perry’s personnel file.

With that being said, it’s critical that we consider how Perry is chosen to serve on the DSS board after being ousted when Dan Hudgins was Director of DSS. She’s placed on the board for one meeting, votes to terminate the Director and then gets the job. You can smell that stinking fish two miles away. At that same meeting Bowser is chosen to serve as the Vice Chair of the board.

I’m just saying. Sometime a person has to go, but things should be done the right way. Something stinks over at DSS.


  1. Her style and approach was confrontational, and she was at odds with both county leadership and staff early on. However program issues and poor results are more likely the real cause. The department is a shadow of what it once was.

  2. The above comment was sent by a reader and deleted by mistake. Sorry to the reader of the blog

  3. I actually "smell the fish" too...just don't know exactly "who" it is or is it the "whole table at the Market"??

    I am a lifelong, Durham resident and have a child that DSS has ignored for over 3 years. Not only do they ignore the abuse allegations and horrible photos made by Doctors and top therapists--what's worse is that they churn out paperwork saying they "have investigated" the claim and "cannot subsantiate". We have several sworn affidavits from medical professionals saying that DSS never followed up and when they did that "very unprofessional" comments were made, meanwhile there is an innocent child being abused physically and mentally.

    I actually had an on-call worker tell us that he was glad he was not in "the day to day" politics--I stated, "Politics should stop at the door when an innocent child is being violated...politics need to be saved for another arena."

    There is a Magistrate that was ready this week to charge the parent with Felony child abuse ( at least 2 counts) and the Investigator wouldn't come to the Magistrate to sign and go through the paperwork procedure?? I guess his ego got in his way which children don't ask for but they have to suffer becaue of idiot adults!Unbelievable--he doesn't believe doctors from Duke, SW's, and the child's therapist along with the child's statements??

    My child is surrounded by incompetence and I'm sure others are too. I understand what happened to Gerri and have mixed emotions there but the ax should've fallen towards the Judge becaue she made the final decision ....and not the right one.

    There were others involved in the decision -making process when it came to the Crystal's children and I don't see their names anywhere? I think a Gwen Graves or Gail Angle should be there becaue they were all for giving the kids to the fathere. They didn't even ask for documentation concerning his lifestyle or serve the 5 year old bench warrant on the father that was behind over $35,000 in child support--Deadbeat Dad and DSS trying to give children over to someone that no one knows??

    And people wonder why our city has the worst reputation in the State as a cess pool, especially when it comes to courthouse matters. Just mix commen sense and case law and do the right thing, but that seems hard for a handful of "people" at the Courthouse--do what's in the best interest of the children--bottom line!

    Amy Henderson

    1. Its because of people like you that there are such thing as "dead beat dads"

      There was no 5 year old bench warrant, and he was never behind 35,000. Your opinion means little, so shut your hole you know nothing about.

  4. You are absolutely right about the stinking fish! Even the sanitized public descriptions of what went on at that DSS Board Meeting should be sending up enormous red flags. And you're right about both the choice of Gail Perry to lead DSS after the circumstances under which she left--and her willingness to engage in the shenanigans at the Board meeting where she first fired the current director and then accepted her job should give us pause about how ethical her leadership will be. One of the biggest mistakes we made in Durham was extending the term of the County Commissioners. We have to wait far longer than we should have to to vote Bowser off. He's a clown and a disgrace who shamelessly promotes & shills for his friends and unethically pursues vendettas against those he considers his enemies.

  5. Carl,
    Do you know why the Assistant Director, John Holtkamp, was not appointed Interim Director instead of Jovetta Whitfield? Mr. Holtkamp was Ms. Whitfield's boss and now she is his boss? I am not one much for conspiracy theories, but there is definitely something truly amiss going on at DSS. But no public concern, no outcry. Meanwhile, it is children who are the ones punished for all of the miss-management. Many lives are being ruined, or even lost, due to the utter incompetency of DSS staff.

  6. Carl,

    What do you think of a Durham Mother that finally after 3 long hard years of dismissed abuse allegations from DSS , finally gets a great caseworker who suspended the Father's visitation due to another visit to Duke's ER. It is a DSS directive that the Mother must follow or DSS will take child.

    There is a Judge, Doretta Walker, who now has signed a "contempt and Show Cause Order" against the Mother basically demanding the child be sent back to the Father or she will face jail?

    What is wrong with this picture , other than everything?? The Judge knows about DSS and has been shown all of the documentation of abuse and neglect suffered by the 5 year old boy. Walker has actually seen more evidence than DSS and she has already "denied" and Emergency Order put before her 2 months ago with pleadings from a therapist and medical doctor.

    She knows the Mother cannot give the child back due to DSS directives and is now imposing a possible jail sentence for keeping her child safe and following DSS's orders--what happened to " what's in the child's best interests?"

    Or is "our current lineup" of Judges looking for job security. Raise broken, angry and abused children so they can grow up to be broken men who resort to crime whether due to shatterd self-esteem or just being in a bad environment which ups the chances for criminal activity--which leads to unproductive lives and we want to have human beings that give back and contribute, not someone that can't recover because of years of abuse that could've been stopped with a little common sense, case law and sworn medical records!

    I guess they want to start an early inventory for the prisons so they can then sentence them for crimes committed as adults because everyone gave up on them as a child--Job security for the Judges! Court date August 9 at 9:30 Courtroom C--Family Annex--everyone come see the hanging!

    "It is easier to raise strong children than to fix broken men" Anonymous

    Amy Henderson

  7. Joe Bowser needs to keep his nose out of personnel matters. . . . remember how well he handled that with Mike Ruffin a few years back? Deja vu all over again.