Abused children; Veep watch...

Behind The News
December 15, 2010 11:42:31 AM PST
They are society's most vulnerable, which is why so much attention is paid to the public agencies that are supposed to protect children. Or maybe I should say "why so much attention SHOULD be paid to them." Because, clearly, too many cases fall through the cracks.

And they shouldn't.

The latest case, apparently, happened today.

A 2-year-old boy died in the Rockaways in Queens, and now cops are labeling it "suspicious." And it turns out that the family has quite a history with the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS). There've been 16 complaints, 11 of them substantiated. And at one point all three of the family's children were removed from the home - and eventually returned. A 5-year-old in February, a 1-year-old in April, and then, last month, the 2-year-old boy, who died today.

The boy's mother told cops that he got hurt after wrestling with his older brother. Then she told them that he fell off a bike. Police aren't buying either story.

We know there aren't enough case workers. We know the City is in financial trouble and doesn't properly fund this and other important agencies. We know that social work is tedious and depressing and never-ending. We also know that to turn our backs on kids in trouble is just the wrong way to run a society. Tonight at 11, we'll have the latest on the kid's death, and the investigation into how ACS handled this troubling case. Jeff Pegues is on the story for us.

We're also covering politics tonight, as the countdown for the selection of vice presidential running mates continues. Word initially went out that Barak Obama would pick his nominee on Wednesday. Now it appears to be later in the week, perhaps Friday. The Chicago Sun Times reports that Obama's staff has reserved the Old State Capitol site in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama kicked off his campaign in Feb., 2007. The site this time will be the launching pad for the duo's journey to the convention in Denver, which begins Monday.

This scenario seems to lessen the chances that Republican Sen. John McCain would announce his own V.P. selection just before the Democratic Convention. And it ensures that the Olympics don't compete with Obama's announcement. All very complicated, I know. But one thing's for sure - there will be a nominee announced for the Democrats before Monday.

One other note from the campaign trail - the latest Quinnipiac University Poll shows a fascinating suggestion that McCain's age (he'll turn 72 on Aug. 29) may be more of an issue than Barak Obama's race. Now I know folks are not always honest about race-related issues when they're asked about it in polls, but the Quinnipiac Poll shows that 89% of those polls would feel "comfortable" with an African American as President, and 8% would feel "uncomfortable. Meanwhile, 64% would feel "comfortable" with a 72-year-old as President, and 34% would feel "uncomfortable." And a reminder: I'll be at the convention, along with our political reporter Dave Evans, and Eyewitness News Weekend Anchor Sandra Bookman, with our reports beginning this Sunday night, from Denver.

And for those who read this column: We're working on an interview with Bill Ritter, the Gov. of Colorado. We figured it might be interesting for Bill Ritter to be interviewed by Bill Ritter. Or maybe not.

One person who will not be in Denver is California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an early and big supporter of Hillary Clinton's. She broke her ankle on Friday, while hiking on a trail at Lake Tahoe, and doctors won't let her travel. We'll also have any breaking news of the night, the AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Diana Williams (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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