Mayor Bloomberg defends ACS commissioner


This after two ACS workers were charged for failing to protect a little girl murdered in their care.

Commissioner John Mattingly faced tough questions about the 4-year-old girl's brutal death and why his social workers, now charged with crimes, didn't protect her.

"Yes or no commissioner," the city council asked.

"Don't tell me how to answer the question," ACS Commissioner John Mattingly said.

"I can tell you," the city council said.

"Don't tell me what to say," Mattingly said.

"You need to answer," the city council said.

"No," Mattingly said.

ACS Commissioner John Mattingly was on the heat seat late Thursday afternoon before the city council.

A day after Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced a special grand jury to investigate what he called systemic failures at ACS.

Last fall, 4-year-old Marcella Pierce, who police say, was tied to this bed and weighed only 18 pounds, died despite ACS intervention.

Wednesday, prosecutors charged former ACS worker Damon Adams, accusing him of lying about visits to the Pierce home.

They also charged his supervisor Chereece Bell.

"This is a terrible tragedy with the child, what they did or did not do is up the District Attorney to find out, and that's what he is doing, and I just cannot get involved," Mayor Bloomberg said.

The mayor was careful not to criticize the prosecutors and Hynes, but he strongly defended the leader of this troubled agency.

"I don't know whether the charges are true but I have 100% confidence in John Mattingly, this city is so lucky to have him, I don't know what you would do if you lose him. Most jobs you can find somebody else this guy is world-renowned," Bloomberg said.

"The city I know cares about those who have been left out and ignored and marginalized," said New York City Councilmember Letitia James.

At a rally Thursday morning, ACS advocates decried budget cuts, and it was the same at the council hearing.

"Hundreds of layoffs, how are you going to protect the children of this city by doing this?" said New York City Councilmember Dominic Rechia.

Yet Commissioner Mattingly testified child abuse workers have only 10.1 cases each.

That's relatively low.

Councilmembers asked if cuts to things like preventive care would lead to more cases of child abuse.

"Bringing down the number of preventive slots last spring was not the cause of that child's death because we had a preventive agency in there and we had a worker in there. Neither of them did their job!" Mattingly said.

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