Heineman is a Robot

November 17, 2010 at 1:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m becoming more and more convinced that Governor Dave Heineman is a robot. He doesn’t appear to have a creative bone in his body. Instead, he just repeats a series of pre-programmed phrases that appear meaningful at a shallow level, but which don’t, in fact, have any real value. Consider his recent comments on child welfare reform.

Change is difficult. It will take time. What is best for the kids is in-home placements, not institutional care. The government’s not a very good parent. And so on. Doesn’t it all sound sterile and robotic?

Governor Heineman is dead set on privatizing all kinds of child welfare responsibilities. That’s all well and good. But the governor seems to understand privatization about as deeply as Sarah Palin understands foreign policy. Heineman thinks privatization is an end when in fact it is the means. The goal here is not to get government out of the job of parenting; nor to keep kids in the home; nor to save money; nor to shrink government. The goal is—or rather ought to be—improving outcomes for kids and, by extension, their families. By making privatization an end rather than a means Governor Heineman and his administration are engaging in a number of destructive moves.

Dave Heineman has such a singular focus on privatization I almost wonder if he literally has his eyes closed and his fingers in his ears while yelling “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”. How else can you explain this bizarre statement: “It’s real easy to sit there and say, ‘I don’t like the direction this is going,’ but I don’t hear a lot of solutions.” Individuals and organizations have been proposing solutions since before child welfare reform went into effect. I suppose it’s possible Governor Heineman doesn’t hear a lot of solutions, but it’s only because he isn’t listening. Even if Heineman has managed to ignore the cacophony of voices of individuals and organizations offering suggestions, he cannot say that the Foster Care Review Board hasn’t delivered recommendations (PDF) directly into his hands. Heineman is lying when he suggests nobody is proposing solutions.

Governor Heineman’s lack of leadership on child welfare reform is shocking. Fortunately some state senators are waking up to that realization so there’s some hope that this spring’s Unicameral session will provide an opportunity for discussion, if not answers. It will take more than that. Governor Heineman and his administration need to be held accountable. That starts with you and me. Regular folks need to learn about child welfare reform and demand fixes. This isn’t a partisan issue and it isn’t a Left/Right issue. It’s a matter of correcting an administration that has gone off course. That’s everybody’s responsibility.

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The Comments

Mr. T November 18, 2010 at 2:38am

Voters in this state had an opportunity to elect an executive with genuine concern, understanding, and vision for the state’s child welfare and behavioral health system: Tom Osborne.

Instead, we chose to elect Heinie because he pulled out the anti-illegal immigration rhetoric come voting time (which technically isn’t even a state policy issue but a federal one).

There needs to be someone in the legislature who will really champion this issue, advocate for closely examining this privatization process and its impact, and provide leadership in a highly visible and public way. Clearly, Heinie is not the person for that job.

Moses November 18, 2010 at 1:46pm

But if Tom had become governor we would probably still have a rotten football program.  Which is more important?

CS November 18, 2010 at 2:26pm

I doubt that Mr. Osborn has a day to day hand in on the football team. The success of the team has to do with coaching, not the guy at the U that signs the checks.

meatball November 18, 2010 at 2:54pm

Yes, but who determines to whom those checks are written?

Moses November 18, 2010 at 3:19pm

I didn’t mean to divert the attention from a very serious subject to the football program. 

I only meant to stress that sometimes people in this lovely State of Nebraska think the football program is more important than the well being of our most vulnerable population.

holy hannah! November 18, 2010 at 3:34pm

Senator Amanda McGill representing the northeast Lincoln district is emerging as a genuine leader on issues relating to children in crisis. I hope she has aspirations for higher office. If you have never met or spoken to her, give her office a call and tell her you are concerned about kids in crisis and want to know what is being done to help them. I’m sure she would appreciate hearing from you.

Fletch November 18, 2010 at 11:00pm

Amen, Moses.

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