September 20, 2006

Someone is Not Doing Their Job

In 1987 NJ native Danny DeVito stared along with Billy Crystal in the black comedy “Throw Momma from the Train”. The story line tells of a bitter ex-husband and a put upon Momma's boy. Both want their respective spouse and mother dead, but who will pull it off?

After many twists and turns along the way, despite their efforts to loose her off a moving locomotive, Momma survives which is really what DeVito wanted though he didn’t realize it at the start and Crystal’s character goes on to write a best seller based on their escapades, somewhat of a happy ending.

Recently I learned of a story involving a service offered by the Union County Dept. of Human Services that didn’t have anywhere near a happy ending.

“The Union County Paratransit System is curb to curb specialized transportation for seniors 60 years of age or older, people with disabilities and economically disadvantaged residents of Union County only.” The system provides non-emergency transportation to doctor appointments, and educational facilities as well as shopping and the like.

It is not certain where Adrian Riordan was off to that fateful day in 2004 when he boarded the paratransit bus however his trip was short-lived. Cited in a lawsuit that was brought against the county by his estate this past June, Mr. Riordan made an unscheduled and unassisted exit from the moving vehicle through the rear emergency door.

The astounding part of this story is that no one realized that he had been accidentally tossed out; those operating the bus service became aware of the situation only after having traveled a full block.

Mr. Riordan’s physical and mental states, at the time of the accident, are not clear, however, it is asserted that he was not properly secured. The fact remains that if he was elderly, easily disoriented and opened the door himself, someone wasn’t doing their job, if he was wheelchair bound and his chair was not properly secured, someone wasn’t doing their job, if the door was not functioning properly and opened on it’s own someone at the vehicle yard wasn’t doing their job and not to notice that he was missing till a full block later certainly means that someone wasn’t doing their job.

Mr. Riordan’s family is certainly justified in seeking damages and reimbursement for his medical bills as well as funeral expenses as they have been put through a nightmare.

Did county officials offer their apologies for this terrible tragedy, did they offer their condolences for this family’s loss, did they accept any responsibility for what occurred or did they simply choose to remain mum keeping the story under wraps.

The Department of Human Services, under the supervision of Director Frank Guzzo, has responsibility for the Paratransit service, as well as Social Services and the Juvenile Detention Center.

**** Recently an employee who worked for Social Services was sentenced to jail for the thievery of over $144,000 in welfare checks which went unnoticed for a period of years only to be detected by a bank teller.

**** And conditions at the detention center were so deplorable that the state Juvenile Justice Commission found that the county’s negligence in maintaining the facility as well as practices they enlisted were a contributing factor in the suicide of teenager Eddie Sinclair.

All of these events have occurred under Mr. Guzzo’s watch, it seems to me that someone hasn’t been doing their job; it also seems to me that Mr. Guzzo should be relieved of his position. Though in the movie DeVito got Momma back, the Sinclair and Riordan families will not be getting a brother or son back anytime soon.