It is a harbinger of Virginia government under the intransigent leadership of a self-styled guardian of principle. Cuccinelli’s office issued without public review an absurd policy guaranteeing notification of anyone mentioned in an Adult Protective Services abuse case. Those at the pointy end of the spear were forced to resist.
Last year I wrote about a regulatory change proposed by Cuccinelli’s office that, under his concept of due process, required just about anyone mentioned in an elder abuse case be notified. There was broad and overwhelming objection to this policy change expressed during the Regulatory Town Hall Process comment period. A public hearing was set for April 17, 2013 (by coincidence, the day of Shad Planking). Instead the hearing was cancelled and, despite the fierce objections of social services professionals, the policy was placed in force. One size fits all in Ken’s world. Except, no responsible professionals are willingly going to follow a narrow-minded dictate that places their clients’ welfare in jeopardy.
Adult Protective Services (APS) professionals found a hole in the policy and, statewide, drove their cases through it. Notification was required when there was a finding. Simple enough. In cases of abuse where the victim was unwilling or unable to charge the perpetrator, the social service professional simply classified the allegations as unfounded. Done; except that for about three months while this policy was in full force, adult abuse findings were significantly underreported. In the face of strong behind the scenes opposition to the policy by the Department of Social Services, it has been amended, then effectively rescinded.
State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26th), Republican candidate for Attorney General and self-styled champion of the elderly has privately indicated interest in the issue but would find himself at odds with the head of the statewide ticket if he publicly addressed it. So with leadership in lock-step, it is certain that the potential Republican administration under Cuccinelli would bully its way through “principled” blunder after blunder, forcing state employees to choose between what is right and what will preserve their jobs.
The APS professionals chose what was right and have prevailed for now. But no doubt it will not be so certain a result under a Governor Cuccinelli.