In a Sunday cover story, The Indianapolis Star's Tim Evans chronicled several ethically questionable moves by Judge James Payne, head of the Indiana Department of Child Services, in a case involving his own grandchildren — some even undermining the credibility of his own agency.
This news emerged as wide-ranging complaints continue about inadequacies and ineffective leadership at the centralized DCS abuse hotline.
On fiscal oversight, the department also failed to engender confidence. Back in February, DCS refused to offer any evidence that appropriate oversight and accountability measures were in place to ensure that a $1.5 million Medicaid waiver grant funneled to Republican political allies at the Indiana Family Institute was being properly managed, despite the grant agreement's mandate that DCS actively engage with the media on the project.
A preponderance of evidence suggested that the governor had at least one significant housecleaning chore left before leaving the Statehouse. But when Judge Payne tenured his resignation Monday, Daniels continued to praise his work. The housecleaning amounted to more of a rearranging, with the DCS chief of staff moving into the director's position.
The following press release just arrived from the governor's office:
Statement from Governor Daniels about DCS director James Payne:
"I have accepted the resignation of Judge Jim Payne as director of the Department of Child Services. I respect his view that his family be spared further harsh criticism, and that a difficult personal dispute, not of his own making, could be misused by those with political or special interest agendas to falsely disparage the excellent work he and his DCS co-workers have done over the last eight years.
"The leading national authorities are unanimous in praising Indiana's improvements in child protection, often labeled 'worst to first,' during Jim Payne's tenure. In the most recent measurements year, the number of fatalities among children under DCS oversight fell to four, an all-time low.
Attacks on his record have ranged from innocently ignorant to despicably political and self-interested. His resignation does not alter the plain truth that thousands of Indiana children are better off, and many are alive only because of the passionate and devoted leadership of this fine public servant."
Governor Daniels has asked DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan to serve as director of the department. He has agreed to assume the responsibilities, effective immediately.
A copy of Judge Payne's resignation letter may be found at this link: http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Judge Payne.pdf