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.