|Active Link , Miami Herald, story below.
Active Link, New York Times. "The true radical, right wing Jeb Bush ... has taken over the body of the Jeb Bush he sold us in 1998.''
Posted on Fri, Aug. 23, 2002
Bush: DCF chief's critics use `double standard'
BY GAIL EPSTEIN NIEVES
Gov. Jeb Bush charged Friday that critics of his new state child welfare chief -- a fundamentalist Christian who advocates corporal punishment -- are displaying ''bigotry'' and a ''double standard'' against people of faith.
Jerry Regier, the new chief of the Department of Children & Families, has come under fire for conservative writings from the late 1980s that carry his name. The articles encouraged corporal punishment for children, asserted that mothers should not work outside the home and said wives should be submissive to their husbands.
Though Regier has denied writing one of two articles that created the controversy, he has acknowledged writing the other, which expressed similar views.
Regier has said his beliefs were based on the Bible, and to varying degrees remain the same.
Bush, in Miami with Regier to announce a multiagency effort to find children who are missing from DCF custody, called The Herald's stories that revealed Regier's writings ''outrageous'' and ``just wrong.''
''I don't believe that someone who described himself as a person lacking faith altogether would be receiving the same kind of scrutiny,'' Bush said. ``I think there's a double standard, and I'm bothered by it.''
Bush added: ``Somehow the implication is that people of faith somehow are strange, and I just reject that.''
Nevertheless, on Friday, the state Democratic Party renewed its call for Bush to revoke Regier's nomination. Some women and even some Republicans were beginning to question the appointment as well.
''As a female legislator I have deep concerns about his core philosophies,'' said Rep. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, a member of the House Select Committee on Oversight of DCF. ``I'm hoping that these aren't true, and I'm also hoping that the governor might want to rethink his choice if they are true.''
''What we need now is a calming influence as an agency head, not a further bumpy road. . . . Everyone I've spoken with shares my concern,'' she said.
Regier, who denied last week writing a controversial 1989 essay that condoned spanking even if it produces bruises or welts, acknowledges that he wrote a 1988 article that encouraged the use of ''manly'' discipline, and quoted from the Bible: ``Smite him with the rod.''
Regier stands by his statements that discipline is important to child-rearing, but he denies ever condoning the use of physical punishment that can lead to injury.
On Friday, he repeated his belief that ``we should encourage parents to raise their children, to discipline their children.''
But he added that some ''principles'' that are appropriate for healthy families might not be so for ''dysfunctional families'' -- the bulk of the clientele served by the Department of Children & Families.
''And for somebody to use their religious beliefs as a cover for abusing children is wrong,'' he said.
Bush and Regier visited the headquarters of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Miami to announce the start of Operation SAFEKids, a program to locate about 500 children missing from DCF custody.
Under the program -- developed in the aftermath of the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, who fell off the DCF's radar screen nearly 20 months ago -- workers from the DCF, the FDLE and local police agencies will join forces. They will create seven regional Child Location Strike Forces across the state to find children currently listed as missing and to look for any who are newly reported missing.
The strike forces are scheduled to report their progress on Nov. 1. They also will report on ways of making it easier to find missing children.
Regarding Regier's writings, Bush brushed off a question about his nominee's reference to smiting with a rod.
'Without getting into biblical references, do you think that saying `an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth' actually means that someone ought to poke your eye out?'' Bush said.
He said Regier, a former Oklahoma Cabinet secretary, was chosen not because of his religious beliefs but because he has a record as a ``dedicated public servant.''
''To me it doesn't matter that Jerry has a deep and abiding faith, but it certainly doesn't disqualify him from public service,'' Bush said. ``I think there's bigotry here and it troubles me.
''My gosh,'' he added, ``I think we need a lot more prayer in our society today.
``And if the Democratic candidates [for governor] are going to come out against disciplining children and saying moms and dads shouldn't be able to do that, I want to hear that.''
In the 1988 article for Pastoral Renewal magazine, Regier argued for a restoration of family values based on ''biblical norms,'' and he listed principles intended to establish ``clear roles for fathers and mothers.''
'Scripture is clear in stating that women are to be `helpmates' to their husbands, that they are to bear and nurture children, that they are to be 'workers at home,' '' Regier wrote.
On Friday, Regier repeated that it is important to distinguish between a ''theological'' discussion of issues and a public-policy discussion. He denied ever attempting to implement, for example, a law or public policy meant to discourage women from working.
Last March, though, Regier told the Family Outreach Conference at Brigham Young University's Provo campus: ``One of my passions, for the last 21 years, has been to bring God's voice, in a sense, to public policy.''
Asked Friday if he would allow DCF workers to bring God's voice to public policy, Regier said: ``Bringing God's voice to public policy to me means the values of integrity, the values of fairness, the values of compassion. Those are the kinds of values I try to bring to my work. And I would hope and I think that many DCF workers would probably espouse those same values.''
This report was supplemented with information from The Associated Press.
© 2001 miami and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Posted on Sat, Aug. 17, 2002
DCF chief's record at agency in Okla. put under spotlight
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER
When Gov. Jeb Bush appointed a Broward judge with a passion for reform to overhaul his badly damaged child welfare agency, he promised to repair a system he said other politicians had left in shambles.
''It's not how I want my state to be viewed,'' he said.
The year was 1999, and Florida ranked 36th among the 50 states for key indicators of children's well-being.
Oklahoma ranked 40th. Its secretary of Health & Human Services at the time was Jerry Regier, the man Bush tapped last week to head Florida's Department of Children & Families.
While Florida has worked its way up the state rankings of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national nonpartisan group that gathers statistics on child welfare, Oklahoma has declined.
Indeed, from 1997, when Regier was named Oklahoma's HHS secretary, until 1999, the most recent date for which information is available, Oklahoma's state ranking declined from 38th to 40th. At the beginning of the 1990s, Oklahoma was ranked as high as 37.
Although Florida's ranking remained the same during the last three years of the '90s, the state improved from 43rd in 1990.
''Florida, over the decade of the '90s, has made better improvement in the national rankings than any other state in the nation,'' said Jack Levine, president of the Center for Florida's Children, which helps disseminate information gathered by the Casey Foundation. ``Oklahoma, in converse, has come to the point in '99 when they had their lowest ranking of the decade, 40th.
``By no means is Oklahoma a standard for emulation.''
Regier could not be reached Saturday to comment about his record as HHS chief.
Bush, campaigning in Key West on Saturday with his wife, refused to comment specifically on the details of the Casey reports.
''We've doubled the budget for DCF in the last four years, we've lowered caseloads, and adoptions have happened faster -- in spite of the tragedies that have unfolded. These are facts that aren't reported enough,'' the governor said.
He reiterated that he would stand by Regier as his choice to lead the DCF.
Since Bush announced the nomination Thursday, Regier has been swept up in a firestorm. The criticism has centered on Regier's views: An essay that bears his name condones spanking that results in ''bruises or welts,'' decries homosexuality and abortion and states that women should not work outside the home.
Regier has since distanced himself from some of these views, saying he did not write the essay, and that it does not reflect his beliefs.
His record in Oklahoma, however, has undergone little scrutiny before now.
Under virtually every indicator of child health and well-being, Florida has performed better than Oklahoma, records show.
According to the Casey data, Florida's state ranking for infant mortality improved from 1997 to 1999 from 34th to 31st. During the same period, Oklahoma's ranking declined from 30th to 43rd -- the most precipitous drop of any state.
Florida's ranking for child deaths improved from 36th in 1997 to 34th in 1999; Oklahoma's ranking for the same indicator of well-being improved slightly, from 44th to 43rd.
In 1997, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating appointed Regier to the post of Cabinet secretary for the HHS, as well as director of the Oklahoma Department of Health. As a Cabinet secretary, Regier oversaw 13 state agencies, the largest of which was the Department of Human Services, the state's child welfare agency.
Before being named a Cabinet secretary and health director, Regier oversaw for five years the state's Office of Juvenile Affairs.
Jon Trzcinski was administrator of Regier's quality-assurance unit at the juvenile justice agency, and is now retired.
He now is a child welfare consultant, and performed contract work in Florida last year, monitoring youth shelters and facilities.
He described Oklahoma's child welfare agency this way: ``We're not very good.''
''We have a system here that's ripe for somebody to sue,'' Trzcinski said. ``It's got many holes in it. It's better than it was 20 years ago. That's the only praise I can think of.''
George A. Miller, who retired in 1998 as director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, acknowledged that the agency was never considered a national model, though it has improved significantly since the 1980s. ''We were inundated with child welfare issues,'' Miller said. ``It was overwhelming, and very difficult to get the qualified people. There was a lot of burnout.''
Miller said Regier exerted very little direct influence over the operations of his department, though he likely exerted more influence behind the scenes. ''I'm sure he had a lot of communication with the members of my board. He never did communicate with me,'' Miller said.
A statistical compendium by a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, which uses federal data, also shows Oklahoma either lags behind or paces Florida on several measures of child welfare.
TIME IN STATE CARE
For example, 1999 data show that 32 percent of Florida foster children had remained in state care for two years or more; 30 percent of Oklahoma children were in care that long. The same year, about 5 percent of Florida children returned to foster care after leaving the system, compared to about 17 percent of Oklahoma's children in foster care.
Also in 1999, 22.9 percent of Florida children remained in state care for four years or longer while awaiting adoption, compared to 24.5 percent of Oklahoma foster children.
The foster care population in Oklahoma soared by 40 percent from the beginning of 1997, when Regier joined Keating's Cabinet, through 1999. During that same period, the number of Florida children in out-of-home care increased by the same proportion.
''What we see in that state are the same failed policies as in Florida,'' said Richard Wexler, who heads the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, a Washington-area-based advocacy group that encourages states to work harder to keep troubled families together, rather than expand foster care.
Wexler had persistently criticized the administration of the DCF's former chief, Kathleen Kearney, who resigned last week. Under Kearney, Wexler said, the DCF exacerbated the state's child welfare crisis by reacting to news reports of gruesome child-abuse deaths by removing far more children from their homes than was necessary, especially those whose families were more poor than neglectful or abusive.
Kearney came under fire over the past few months after it became public that the DCF had lost track of a 5-year-old Miami foster child, Rilya Wilson, who has not been found. In subsequent months, the agency also faced criticism after several children who were known to be at risk died of abuse or neglect.
Florida has a better record than Oklahoma in putting children in relatives' homes when they are taken out of their parents' homes. Many social welfare scholars and child advocates say it is better to place children with relatives than strangers when they can no longer live with their biological parents.
About 45 percent of Florida children in state care were allowed to live with relatives.
In Oklahoma, about 27 percent of children in care lived with relatives, which was close to the national average.
Two percent of Florida foster children lived in institutions such as residential treatment centers compared with 5 percent of Oklahoma foster children, the report said.
Another 6 percent of Florida foster children live in group homes, compared with 14 percent in Oklahoma, more than double.
''As a rule, kids ought to be in family settings, preferably their own family,'' said Trzcinski, who said the less family-like the setting, the worse it is likely to be for children.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, a veteran juvenile court judge who presides over cases involving child welfare, said: ``For those of us who work in child welfare, and given what is going on within the Department of Children & Families, and given the severe impact that has on the children of this state, I would wish that those who are responsible for this appointment would be very careful, and very circumspect.''
Regier ''had a much larger budget than Florida, and a much smaller population. He may have been successful fiscally, but he certainly didn't correct the problems in his child welfare system,'' said Cohen. ``That doesn't bode well for Florida.''
Herald staff writer Jennifer Babson contributed to this report.
© 2001 miami and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Posted on Fri, Aug. 16, 2002
Excerpts of Regier's views in family-life essay
When Jerry Regier was president of the Family Research Council in the late 1980s, he and Dr. George Rekers coauthored an essay entitled The Christian World View of the Family.
The essay was published by the Coalition on Revival, a coalition of evangelical leaders, as one of 17 ''World View Documents'' detailing what it called ``comprehensive biblical principles of how to apply the truth of the Bible to all spheres of life and ministry.''
It can be found on the organization's website at www.reformation.net/corcordocs.htm#worldview.
NOTE: 18 August 2002 This link has been removed from the site!
Here are excerpts:
``We deny that the Bible countenances any other definition of the family, such as the sharing of a household by homosexual partners, and that society's laws should be modified in any way to broaden the definition of family or marriage beyond the Biblically understood definition of heterosexual marriage, blood relations and adoption.''
'We deny that premarital and extramarital sexual relationships, promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, exhibitionism, pornography, adult-child sexual relations, prostitution, sex-act entertainment, masturbation and other sexual deviations should be sanctioned or accepted as `normal' or legal, even if done alone or by consenting partners . . .''
``We affirm that a man's authority as head of his wife is delegated to him by God; that this means that his legitimate authority over his wife is limited by what God's Word allows him; and that all authority is established by God and no one and no social institution has the right to exert any authority contrary to God's laws or the bounds God has set for the man's office in the family . . .''
``We affirm that an able-bodied man must take every reasonable effort to support his family continuously . . . that the wife may augment the family's income through effective management of resources or, with the husband's consent, by home business . . . and that in cases of family financial crisis, the wife may, with her husband's approval, accept temporary outside employment, but that the family should view this as bondage . . .''
``We deny that the state has a right to undermine or remove righteous, Biblically-mandated authority of parents, or to claim or usurp -- from parents who have not been convicted of physical child abuse or neglect -- the role of primary educator of, provider for, or protector of children.''
'We deny that the family should be a democracy; that lovingly enforced obedience harms a child; and that civil government has a right to define wisely-administered corporal punishment as `child abuse' or to allow children to 'divorce' their parents.''
``We deny that either the mother, the father, the civil government, or any other person or institution has a moral right to decree the death by abortion of any child for any reason . . .''
``We deny that the state has a right to undermine or remove the righteous authority of parents in a family or to claim the role of educator, provider, or protector for children or other family members, except in cases of judicially proven abuse, neglect, or abandonment, or upon the family's request.''
'We deny that the state has a right to impose unrealistic standards on families; that the so-called offenses of `emotional neglect,' 'emotional abuse,' 'educational neglect,' etc., which form the bulk of substantiated reports of 'child abuse and neglect,' are in fact crimes against children; that the state has any right to administer criminal penalties or usurp custody in neglect cases except when a child's life or physical health is obviously endangered; and that the state should ever administer criminal penalties or usurp custody in cases where the only accusation concerns mental health, since the state should not mandate what particular beliefs and attitudes are healthy or acceptable. . . .''
``We affirm that Biblical spanking may cause temporary and superficial bruises or welts that do not constitute child abuse, but that proven brutality to a child resulting in permanent disfigurement or serious injury should be punished by law . . .''
© 2001 miamiherald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.