Louis F. Rossiter, Ph. D
Secretary of Health & Human Resources
Ninth Street Office Building
202 North Ninth St., Room 622
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear nigger Rossiter,
You don't mind if us 24 million "noncustodial parents", or "NCP"s,
call you nigger, do you? Well if you do mind, then you have only an inkling of an
idea of what an insult it is to the 24 million divorced fathers in this country, and the
two million who are Signatories to the Fathers' Manifesto, to be referred to as
"NCP"s. The many black fathers who are Signatories each have guaranteed me
personally that they would rather be referred to as niggers than as "NCP"s.
The lexicon you have adopted, coupled with your kicking Dr. Baskerville off of your
Panel solely because he believes in and supports responsible fatherhood, is revealing of
the agenda you are pursuing to disenfranchise divorced fathers from the political process.
Without getting into the details of what Jesus Christ or Mr. Jefferson would think
about you, or why you are pursuing this agenda, or the incredibly destructive message this
sends to our children and to the world, we just want you to know that your insulting
terminology will not be easily forgotten, whether or not you deign to correct it (which we
hereby request you to do).
We also take note that you are insulting Dr. Baskerville's intelligence by suggesting
that he complain to the US Congress about Virginia Code 20-108.1 and 20-108.2.
This is not a federal law. You can see from http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+20-108.1
that this is a state law which was passed only after a Panel just like the
one you kicked Dr. Baskerville off of made its recommendations to the state government
without a single input from fathers like Dr. Baskerville. It's up to you as a state,
not Congress, to repeal this hideous law which among other things caused a doubling of
Virginia's already high divorce rate. This requires that all sides of this
issue be represented, which means that you must not stack the deck against responsible
The Secretary of Health and Human Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia
has informed me that, because of "opinions" and "criticisms" of
officials I expressed in an article published in the Washington Times and
other respected newspapers, my appointment to a government panel has been
rescinded. "Upon reviewing your opinions published in the June 17, 2001,
Washington Times, we question whether you would be able to work effectively
with other Panel members," Secretary Louis Rossiter writes. Astoundingly,
he adds, "I find it difficult to see how you could effectively participate
along with representatives of other groups that very likely have different
perspectives than yours."
The federal and state statutes specifically require that such panels
represent a variety of different interests and perspectives. That is
precisely the purpose of the panel, to represent different points of view
(but apparently not too different). If the Secretary doubts that my
"opinions" are representative of non-custodial parents, an official of his
department told me that I was recommended for the position by more custodial
parents than any other candidate.
Ironically, the article for which I have been dismissed was less on child
support as such than on government ethics in Virginia. The article charged
that free government and constitutional rights have been corrupted by the
child support system. Secretary Rossiter has proven my charges by his
action, which shows that the corrupting influence of child support
enforcement now reaches to the highest level of Virginia government.
The other irony is that the article that provoked my dismissal (reprinted
below the Secretary's letter) was mostly a summary of the minority report
written by Barry Koplen when he served on a similar panel in 1999. This
report was published by the Panel itself - in other words, by the government
of Virginia. All I did was remind readers of Barry Koplen's experience.
In the final line I am thanked for my willingness to participate, "even if
in a context counter to the Panel's purpose." This would seem to validate
Barry's suggestion that the Panel's conclusions are effectively determined
before the process has begun.
The article was reprinted in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star and is under
consideration for publication at other Virginia newspapers. I plan to write
a response to Secretary Rossiter.
PS: Secretary Rossiter's letter is attached as a PDF file. I'm sorry I can
't give it in text. Here are the key passages. Below also is the original
Washington Times article. I think some letters to the Times are in order:
Louis F. Rossiter, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, to Stephen
Baskerville, July 23, 2001:
"After looking over the credentials that you sent demonstrating your
qualifications to serve on this Panel, we offered you appointment as the NCP
representative on April 27, 2001, which you accepted. However, upon
reviewing your opinions published in the June 17, 2001, Washington Times, we
question whether you would be able to work effectively with other Panel
"I have read your statement in the June 17, 2001 Washington Times, and the
criticism of the motivations of those who either sit on the Panel or
administer the program.
Secretary Louis Rossiter writes. Astoundingly, he adds, "I find it
difficult to see how you could effectively participate along with
representatives of other groups that very likely have different perspectives
"From this, I find it difficult to see how you could effectively
participate along with representatives of other groups that very likely have
different perspectives than yours, in a cooperative effort to improve
Virginia's existing Guideline within its existing legal and regulatory
"Accordingly, I believe it to be in the best interest of all concerned to
rescind your appointment tot he 2001 Virginia Triennial Child Support
Guideline Review Panel. Thank you for your willingness to participate, even
if in a context counter to the Panel's purpose."
Washington Times, 17 June 2001,
Commentary section (Forum), p. B5.
Appetite for family destruction
A little-noticed commission is beginning work in Virginia that has major
implications nationwide for both families and governmental ethics. Every
four years, each state is required to review its guidelines for child
support. In Virginia the outcome may be less remarkable than the process.
The last review in 1999 was a classic case of the foxes guarding the hen
house. The review panel was selected by the director of the state's Division
of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), and at least 10 of the 12 members
derived income from the divorce system: two judges, four lawyers, a
feminist, an enforcement official, two custodial parents, and a legislator.
All these people have a stake in encouraging divorce and criminalizing
fathers and therefore in making child support as onerous as possible. "By
virtue of the Director of DCSE deciding its make-up, conflict-of-interest
concerns are both evident and also reflective of much larger improprieties."
The words are from the minority report of Barry Koplen, the lone
representative of parents paying court-ordered child support. A full-time
clothier, Mr. Koplen was appointed only after fundamental decisions had
already been taken and by his own account had neither the time nor the
expertise to attend to his duties. Yet he was told he would serve or no one
Mr. Koplen set about to educate himself on the intricacies of the
child-support industry. The result was a scathing indictment of how powerful
interests can hijack the machinery of government not simply to line their
pockets but to seize children and used them as weapons against law-abiding
parents. Mr. Koplen accused the commission of nothing less than "criminal
wrongdoing" in jailing parents "without due process of law." He discovered
political underworld where government officials are feathering their nests
and violating citizens' rights while cynically proclaiming their concern for
children. "This is frightening in its disregard for due process," Mr. Koplen
wrote. "The violation of constitutional rights [is] perpetrated by both our
courts and the DCSE."
The review process was hardly better than the system itself: "conducted in a
manner so questionable as to cast doubt on its credibility," said Mr.
Koplen. "We had been asked to blind ourselves to the illegal incarceration
of thousands of citizens in our state, to the harassment and pursuit of
parents by attorneys on loan to DCSE." By controlling this panel, judges,
lawyers, and plainclothes police are making the same laws they adjudicate
Perhaps most questionable is that the system used in the Old Dominion (and
some 30 other states) is largely the creation of one man, who also happens
to preside over the nation's largest private child support contractor.
Robert Williams created Policy Studies Inc., to compound the ethical
conflict, while working as a paid consultant to the Department of Health and
Human Services, which in turn imposed his system on the states. "His company
's participation in child support guideline determination and the profit it
derives from its child support collection division points to an obvious
conflict of interest," Mr. Koplen noted. "His proposal's higher numbers
meant more collections" for his company.
So why should we care about punitive burdens on divorced fathers? If they
don't want to pay child support perhaps they shouldn't have gotten divorced.
That is precisely the point: Most noncustodial parents are divorced
involuntarily and without legal grounds. The same interests represented on
the review panels can force divorce on the parents whose property they then
confiscate - for the children, of course. This makes unilateral divorce very
lucrative for all concerned. High guidelines, Mr. Koplen points out, "create
an irresistible incentive to divorce for the party most likely to be
rewarded with child custody and child support." Coerced child support, along
with forced attorneys' fees, is the financial fuel of the divorce machinery.
Academic studies by Sanford Braver, Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen, and
others confirm that the parent expecting custody usually files for divorce.
Divorcing parents can then plunder their spouses by an assortment of charges
that are "punitive and inappropriate," as Koplen puts it, and which render
them subject to "incarceration and criminalization." This "civil rights
nightmare" is perpetrated under the guise of providing for children by the
very people who are forcibly destroying their homes. The divorce industry,
in short, has turned children into cash cows.
Similar chicanery operates in other states. "The commissions appointed to
review the guidelines have been composed . . . of individuals who are
unqualified to assess the economic validity of the guidelines, or who have
an interest in maintaining the status quo, or both," writes William Akins, a
Georgia district attorney writing in the Georgia Law Journal.
This time around the eyes of the nation will be on Virginia to see if it
will continue to enrich the divorce industry by engineering the destruction
of its children's homes.
The author teaches political science at Howard University, and is a member
of the Virginia Child Support Guideline Review Panel.
Stephen Baskerville, PhD
Department of Political Science
Washington, DC 20059