Mayor Defends ACS Head On Heels Of Worker Arrests
After two city child welfare workers were slapped with homicide charges in the death of a young girl, the city commissioner in charge of protective services is coming under close scrutiny despite Mayor Bloomberg's defense. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
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He isn't facing criminal charges like his two former employees, but Commissioner John Mattingly, who leads the city's child welfare agency, is nevertheless on the hot seat.
Former welfare workers from his agency were charged this week with criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of four-year-old Marchella Pierce.
The Brooklyn District Attorney says he's convening a grand jury to investigate the agency. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it clear Thursday that his embattled commissioner is going nowhere.
"I have 100 percent confidence in John Mattingly. This city is so lucky to have him. I don't know what you'd do if you lose him," Bloomberg said.
Marchella was found dead inside her family's home last September. She weighed a mere 18 pounds and investigators say she was beaten and starved. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes says she might be alive had the city's welfare workers done their jobs.
"There's an investigation going on and I just can't comment on the allegations against two case workers," Bloomberg said.
After the 2006 child abuse death of Nixzmary Brown the agency was supposed to have adopted a number of reforms.
"We did put in a lot of changes and we believe that generally they were followed," said the mayor. "Whether they were followed in this case, it's an investigation. I just can't answer."
City officials emphasize that they don't think the tragic death of the young girl can be blamed on budget cuts or a lack of funding. Critics, though, strongly disagree.
"We had a preventive agency in there and we had a worker in there. Neither of them did their job," Mattingly said.
"This agency was continuing to retreat and retreat and reduce and reduce. And I think in that atmosphere, a lot got missed. People literally had much more on their plate than they had ever had before," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Despite that disagreement, it turns out de Blasio is also in Mattingly's corner. He says the commissioner is part of the solution at the agency and always has been.