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April 24, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

CPS Report

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Department of Public Safety released its report on Arizona’s Child Protective Services and five CPS officials were fired afterwards. Charles Flanagan, the director of the Department of Child Services and Family Safety, will discuss the report.
  • Charles Flanagan - Director, Department of Child Services and Family Safety
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, cps, report, arizona, public safety, services, family,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. The Department of Public Safety released its report on Arizona’s Child Protective Services yesterday. As a result of the findings, five CPS supervisors and a top DES administrator were fired. Here now to discuss the report is Charles Flanagan, director of the Division of Child Services and Family Safety. Thank you so much for being here.

Charles Flanagan: You're very welcome.

Ted Simons: I know you're a busy man right now. The investigation, what did it focus on, what did it find?

Charles Flanagan: So the governor when she discovered that the former CPS did not investigate thousands of cases that required investigation under the law, passed the department of public safety was conducting an administrative investigation to determine who did what, why and how. It's just the basics of who did what and how they did and over what period of time.

Ted Simons: Basically an administrative review.

Charles Flanagan: That's exactly right. Now shortly thereafter she created the care team which we talked about previously on the show and the care team really identified many of those same issues. But its focus was on the system and the process and how we should make those changes that would prevent something like this happening again. DPS, the report gave us the ability to move forward, knowing what happened in the past, so that we could take personnel actions and begin to repair the damage.

Ted Simons: It sounds like a small group of CPS supervisors were at fault here. What did this group do?

Charles Flanagan: So the process began around 2009. And in 2009, there were and budget issues and a group of employees, not necessarily those that were involved most recently and were in the news began the process of screening out reports. The problem was that it wasn't allowed by law and it wasn't codified in policy. Then it stopped after a brief window of opportunity and the agency began to move forward without that process. Now, I call it a process but it really wasn't codified so that makes it very difficult. And then at a point in about 2011, a group of employees at administrative and managerial levels decided that they were going to reinstitute the process of N.I., to screen out cases and not allow them to get into the field so they would be added to the workload that's in the field currently. The problem again with that was that it was never codified and what they were doing changed over time, and then lastly, it was wrong because the law says you must investigate those things that rise to the level of a report.

Ted Simons: And they did this what to lighten the workload because of this 10,000 which I think is even more now but this back log of cases? It sounds as though was this malicious, was this trying to do something good, even though it wound up doing something not good at all?

Charles Flanagan: We can really only infer what people might have done this for, the reason they might have done this and there are proccesses in other states that are codified in law where a reports are screened out and you do not investigate everything in those states. The problem is you can't do things that are contrary to law and you can't do things that are contrary to policy. The second part of this problem was that the agency operated really without reference to policy or statute and so people were able to independently do things without checks and balances in place. So we can presume that they were trying to keep these cases out of the stream of work and there is a crushing workload that the employees of this agency are doing right now. And this made in their minds potentially some difference. The problem is it had terrible outcomes. The process was not implemented correctly, even if it were codified. And we've discovered tremendous harm as a result of that.

Ted Simons: Was this an original idea by someone or some group of people in 2009? Or is this something that may have occurred in previous years?

Charles Flanagan: It's a great question. One of the things that came out in the report is the system we used, the database we used is called Childs and Childs was bought after somebody else had used it in another state from another state and it was never really adapted appropriately to what our needs are. So it's a very difficult system to work with. Within that system, there was this ability, this tool called N.I. It was built into the database wherever it was used before and whoever generated this in the first place and it was never disabled or not used in this state. So there actually were three I believe it was reports prior to 2009 that were identified as an anomaly, as N.I. We don't know the reason for that or why it happened. Someone discovered that and used that in 2009 for a total 666 of reports. But then it stopped. And when it started again, it looks like the catalyst for this group beginning that process again, including some people that are no longer with the agency, that had left long before I came in with the care team and before I became the director made the decision to reinstitute this process. But there was a communication problem in the agency and quite frankly, I don't think people really all knew what was happening and that was clear from this report, as well.

Ted Simons: I was going to say the report seemed to indicate they tried to hide this activity.

Charles Flanagan: You know, you have to question when there's a very small number of people who have control over this and a very number of people, the same group, that have access to the information, so that the people in the field and I want to stress again what the governor said in the beginning and what I believe wholeheartedly, the vast majority of employees at the former CPS are good people who do a tough job with very little respect and pay and they stay because they care about the safety of children and they care about families and they're doing this work and people come along and give this black eye. But even in addition to that, what we discovered was that there were only 6,552 of the original N.I.s that were in the database. We discovered, however, there were cases that had a broken disposition. Somebody went in and changed the disposition in the report, which meant all of the historical information disappeared. That to me doesn't look kosher and in the end we found that we had a total of 6,596 of which 6,595 needed to be reported. So that's a big difference and something happened and we learned that when people were questioning why a case was not investigated, changes were made to some of those.

Ted Simons: A top des administrator was let go, as well. Do we know what she did and how long she did it?

Charles Flanagan: I want to make sure that everybody understands the process. The people that were separated by me, that fell under the division of child safety and family services and the person that fell under DES that were separated, they were separated as per personnel rules, they were given a very simple letter that said your services are no longer required, effective 5 p.m. today, you will no longer be with the agency, return state equipment, and then we took their identification cards and they left. That dismissal did not give cause. So there's cause, there's a reason for this, but the process is not one that outlines the cause. The bottom line is that this was a cadre of people that had communicated back and forth that had authorized or worked and were involved in this process and sustained it over a long period of time.

Ted Simons: Clarence Carter apparently not implicated in this report and a lot of people are wondering how all this can go on and the head of the agency not be implicated. How much can you speak to that?

Charles Flanagan: Well, I can only really say two things. First, it's not within my purview and we're talking about two cabinet-level directors. But I will say this there was no evidence that I saw and the report itself was very large. And there was a lot of material that needed to be read as we went through this report. Most of it was e-mails back and forth, and reports that were given. And nowhere within those e-mails communicating about this, including e-mails saying things like, you know, we really can't use the term N.I. because really by law we can't do this. But nowhere in there was Clarence Carter's name on the heading as having received it or been copied on those communications. The second thing and this is why I'm so impressed by the governor's actions because we have had problems with CPS over many decades in this state and she took action that no one has taken before and separated this division of child safety and family services out. Now imagine for a moment when I looked at the organizational chart for DES, it is huge. It is the largest bureaucracy in state government. It has vastly different divisions and units that focus on very different things and it's all been thrown together in an organization. So child protective services was a tiny little speck on the organizational chart at the bottom. So, you know, I will share with you that at the department of corrections when I worked there, it's very difficult to know everything that goes on but I feel responsible for what happens under my watch and you have to have the ability to oversee that and manage it.

Ted Simons: Indeed. And that's why again some were wondering about that particular note in the report. Last, a minute left here. 65,66 hundred cases here, not investigated. Have they all been addressed?

Charles Flanagan: Yes, every single case is being investigated, over 4,000 have been closed. We are looking at closing a significant number in very short order and we're hopeful that within the next couple of months we will have completed all of these cases.

Ted Simons: And real quickly this all happened it seems like because there was a 10,000 some odd case back log and some folks were misguided apparently, allegedly in trying to deal with that back log. It's even bigger now, isn't it?

Charles Flanagan: That's correct. So the original inception of this team that was put together called the swat team, really inept name, but what they were supposed to do was look at that 9,000 case plus, back log, and then process those cases so they could be closed. And then the mission morphed and a small group of them became responsible for screening these reports out and hiding them from the field.

Ted Simons: Well, it's good to have you here, thank you so much for talking to us about the report. I would like to get you back now once the legislature figures about what it's going to do regarding your new as yet unnamed agency.

Charles Flanagan: Thank you.

Krauss on Science

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University Physicist Lawrence Krauss makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon to enlighten us on the latest science news, including the discovery of a very earthlike planet and an exomoon.
  • Lawrence Krauss - Physicist, Arizona State University
Category: Science   |   Keywords: science, krauss, asu, earth, planet, news, discovery,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: ASU physicist and best-selling science writer Lawrence Krauss joins us every month for the latest in science news, which this month includes the discovery of an earthlike planet in a far-off solar system. Here now is Lawrence Krauss. Good to see you.

Lawrence Krauss: Good to be back.

Ted Simons: What is Kepler-f?

Lawrence Krauss: Don't you know?

Ted Simons: No. [ Laughter ]

Lawrence Krauss: It's our cousin, it may be a cousin of our earth. As you may know, Kepler is a satellite that was incredibly successful at finding planets around other stars and over I think at least 2,000 such planet candidates were discovered. Kepler has sort of stopped its mission because it's not working as well anymore. But part of the effort is to look for potentially life elsewhere in the universe or habitable planets. We're looking at one of the -- what Kepler discovered is many solar systems around other stars. In fact, we know that most stars have planets around them and Kepler-186 is a system, 500 light years away from us. It takes 500 years for the light to get us and our solar system has eight or I believe nine planets, and the Kepler star is a star that's about half the size of our sun, and that means it's much less bright, and there are five planets in that solar system and one of them, the outermost planet, now appears to be a planet that's about the size of the earth and it's in a region which could have liquid water. So it's in what's called the Goldilocks zone.

Ted Simons: And apparently, we know that it's likely a rocky surface, not gaseous, liquid maybe water, not ice. How do we know all this?

Lawrence Krauss: We don't know it all. We're surmising based on its location, and size that it's likely to be a rocky planet but we don't know for certain. We have to make suppositions. The way these planets are discovered, we've talked about this before is when they go in front of the star, they make it a little dimmer and all we can see is the dimming and that tells us the size of the planet basically. And there are five of them around this system. And it's amazing that this technique even works because, you know, if you look at the sun it's pretty bright and you try to see a little dimming of the light. But it's done it. We know the size of the planet and its distance, the orbital distance, and those things together tell us likely the temperature on the planet and given its size, it's probably a rocky planet but it could be a very small gaseous planet, we can't say that from the existing data but it's exciting, although it's not earth, the star is about half the brightness of the sun as I say and that star is much cooler on the whole than the earth is but just enough that liquid water could arise there. It's been estimated the amount of sunlight is receives is about the same as Mars. It's not a twin. It's at best a cousin but it does suggest as, in fact, all the evidence that the galaxy is just full of earth-sized planets. And the question is will we find a twin and then if we find a twin, will we be able to find out if it's rocky, look for an atmosphere, we're not going to do that with Kepler but there's a whole bunch of new satellites that are being launched that will hopefully try to do that.

Ted Simons: This thing is 500 light years away?

Lawrence Krauss: It's our near neighbor.

Ted Simons: Yeah, how about --

Lawrence Krauss: Take us 400,000 years if we left in a rocket ship.

Ted Simons: An exomoon. Is this the same thing?

Lawrence Krauss: Exo means it's outside of our solar system. We've never seen any moons. We may have. We don't know for certain. It's a very different technique, has been used to find a very strange pair of objects. Something called microlensing. It's an amazing phenomenon, prediction of general relativity. You're seeing images of what this thing might be but what happens is when again, when an object passes in front of a star, if it's small enough, what happens is it actually bends light around it, we all bend light because gravity bends around massive objects, and if it's small enough, it doesn't produce many images of the star but it basically brightens, it causes the star's brightness to be enhanced. You see a little bit of brightening. What we've seen here is was two little bits of brightening telling you that in front of some distant star, two objects are moving. In this case one object was 2,000 times the mass of the other. So that could be either a Jupiter, small star with a Jupiter-like planet or a Jupiter-like planet with a moon the size of the earth. Unfortunately, it's one of these once in a lifetime observations. Unlike seeing the planets that go around stars, where you can keep seeing the phenomenon repeated, this is just a lucky observation, you look at a star and if you're lucky, something passes in front of it, you see it once, you won't see it happen again. And so it's just a one-time event and moreover, if it's really true that it's a planet and a moon, it's a planet that got lost. It doesn't have a star around it.

Ted Simons: Do we know whether it's orbiting something? It could be like lost in space.

Lawrence Krauss: It's most likely lost in space, there's no other objects near it because we don't know a similar enhancement and that means it could have been a planet that got knocked out of its solar system as happens periodically, knock it out of the solar system. Happily it hasn't happened in our solar system in a long time but it could be a frozen planet that's been knocked out into the cosmos, maybe a planet that had well unlikely a planet that had life on it but if it's true, it would be, if this really was a Jupiter and earth sized planet it would be the first moon that's been seen outside our solar system. We're sure that there are moons around many of these planets because look at our solar system, almost every planet has moons around it but using the transit method, they're too small to see. This was just a lucky accident and the amazing thing is if you keep -- I've said this before, the universe is old and big and if you keep staring at objects long enough you'll have a lot of lucky accidents. You can't repeat it. So it's a little less interest than the transit method, you see it, it's come and gone and you really don't know what it was but it's suggestive that at least we may have discovered another moon.

Ted Simons: How far away?

Lawrence Krauss: We don't know. We don't know that. We can just see the object enhance the light from a distant star, it's probably far away, somewhere between us and the center of the galaxy. So if you thought 500 light years was far away, this is even further.

Ted Simons: That's a real road trip. All right. Help me with this one.

Lawrence Krauss: I know you're nervous about this one.

Ted Simons: I'm nervous about this one because apparently, we've discovered a different kind of cork. I don't know what a regular kind of cork is.

Lawrence Krauss: It's a kind of cheese but I want to talk about this because I want to go from outer space to inner space. We've been talking about cosmological things but it's nice to point out we're made of quarks. It was one of the great discoveries of the 1960s that the particles that make you and I up, the vast array of many elementarily particles could be understood as being made up of these fundamental particles called quarks, there's three quarks in every proton and neutron. There are other particles. But you are quarks and electrons. A very nice combination but quarks and electrons. These are the fundamental building blocks of nature. For 50 years we've known about quarks as a way to categorize all the elementary products we see. Three quarks make up these particles, a quark, antiquark. Some people have speculated there may be exotic particles that are made of more than three quarks. Now with the large hadron collider, a particle has been discovered made of four quarks and we don't know how that works. Because we understood the three quarks and the quark antiquark. This is an exciting new discovery. It's not earth shattering but it teaches us something. There are new things under the sun. You may think quarks, we know all about them, it's all been discovered, we're going to look for exotic stuff like the higgs particle and it's interesting to realize that under our noses with stuff as normal as quarks, even though that seems strange to you, they were named quarks, this model that could explain everything we saw in the 1960s, called the eight fold way. All of the weird particles that had otherwise appeared unclassifiable could be understood as combinations of quarks. He won the Nobel Prize. It was a great discovery and it sounds like old physics but even in that old physics we've discovered something new that we don't understand and I like that.

Ted Simons: So what is the impact on the understanding of the subatomic world?

Lawrence Krauss: It tells us something about the strong forces that hold quarks together and it allows us ways to test our ideas of the models of the structure. The strongest force in nature, it takes an infinite amount of energy to pull two quarks apart, you can't do it and it was only in the 1970s that we had a model for how it work. We're trying to understand that model because strong interactions are hard to understand mathematically because they're so strong that the mathematics get quite complicated. So every bit of new and surprising data helps us understand that model. It's not going to change the world. But it means that there are surprises, even under our noses, and just like the weird new moons and planets to be discovered up here, even under our very noses in the materials that make us up, there are new unexpected elementary particles that may exist and that teach us more about ourselves. I kind of like this.

Ted Simons: Are there going to be other oddities? What else is waiting for us?

Lawrence Krauss: We're looking. This is an oddity that was sort of surprising but maybe not earth shattering. What we're hoping, the large hadron collider will turn on again in 2015. We are hoping that we'll see real oddities because the higgs particle was a great discovery. This is an interesting discovery. But we're hoping that we might see a whole class of new elementary particles called supersymmetric particles which would help us understand the fundamental structure of matter and might explain dark matter. We are really hoping when that machine turns on with more energy and more intensity, we will be flooded with new surprises that you and I can talk about.

Ted Simons: Oh, boy. A supersymmetric particles. Are they smaller than quarks?

Lawrence Krauss: Yes. Well, they're point-like particles but they're more exotic. They make quarks seem like a kind of cheese.

Ted Simons: I see. So basically, we've got quarks, we've got the outer space world with the new moon found and the once-in-a-lifetime moon and the planet found. What's next? What's on the horizon? What do you think we'll talk about next?

Lawrence Krauss: Well, that's the great thing. That's the great thing. We don't know what we're going to talk about next month. That's why science is fun. We don't know what discoveries are going to be made. And so with each month, it's an interesting challenge to see what's going to happen. We can predict the large hadron collider is going to turn on, we can predict when the large satellite comes out that will look for new planets, so we can expect to see those things but discoveries as I like to say it if I knew what the next big thing was I would be doing it right now.

Ted Simons: And not only that when the hadron collider comes on, stronger more powerful, bigger, better, it could mess up a whole lot of previous theories couldn't it?

Lawrence Krauss: Well, I like to think so. Because it's fun to find out that we're wrong because it means there's new things to learn. I expect it won't mess up the standard model but it may -- what really importantly it will do is give us a direction to understand where to go next, which is what we really need.

Ted Simons: We've got to stop right now, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us. Friday on "Arizona Horizon," it’s the Journalists’ Roundtable. The legislative session is over. We’ll discuss what lawmakers did and did not get accomplished. And an appeals court okays a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s expansion of Medicaid. That’s Friday on the Journalists’ Roundtable. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.