Children's interests | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Children's interests

Posted By on Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 6:29 AM

John Brummett takes on a monster of an issue this morning, one that will test the Beebe administration. It's about the state's squandering of millions on mental health treatment for kids.

Operators of residential treatment centers, led by Ted Suhl of the Lord's Ranch, lavished money and perks on Gov. Mike Huckabee and the legislature ($100,000 in campaign contributions were documented by me in one campaign season).

The result is painful to taxpayers: Arkansas leads the nation in proportional spending on residential treatment centers, at an enormous cost, instead of emphasizing the generally more efficient community-based programs. But not to worry. Suhl operates these, too, as do others with dubious track records. Some day I'll tell you more about how the fabled felonious legislator, Nick Wilson, still suckles a DHS teat in the name of serving needy children.

Careful study, tough oversight, wise use of resources -- all are needed. All were lacking in the Huckabee days. Beebe has made some strides, though many of the Huckabee era enablers remain in charge.

But Beebe is still stonewalling about the deaths of four children in foster care in this state. He's still stonewalling about an abused child sent back to an abusive home by a DHS caseworker to a home occupied by another DHS worker. It is not confidence inspiring on youth matters. It will be a big issue at the coming legislative session. You can be sure Suhl and his industry colleagues are spreading the money around. Is Beebe spreading adequate counterinsurgent tactics?

Don't even get me started on the dubious drug rehab facilities that have become another inadequately regulated cash cow in this state. This issue happens to tie into the scandalous probation program operating unchecked out of Judge Willard Proctor's circuit court in Little Rock.  Look for these operations in your community. The bad ones are more about fee generation than rehabilitation. Indeed, the less rehab, the more fees for erring drug and alcohol abusers. Ever given any thought to how much money is generated in mandatory drug testing of hundreds of probationers? Or looked into special assessments on probationers who fail drug tests? So many ways to boodle. So few people looking into the boodling.


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