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Q&A Over County Documents Doesn't Occur

On Tuesday, Erie County lawmakers sought to question officials from the Department of Social Services about confidential documents left out in the open. But lawmakers hit a snag when no one showed up to be questioned.

Members of the Erie County Legislature's Minority Caucus were all set to get some answers during a Government Affairs Committee meeting. But the head of Social Services wasn't there.

Legislator Edward Rath III said, "We didn't know of this until first thing this morning. Minutes ago, actually."

The question and answer session that didn't happen was being held after an audit by County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw found confidential document left in unsecured areas at the Rath building by Social Services personnel.

RELATED | Mychajliw is now refusing to return those documents, which the Deputy County Executive warns could cost taxpayers because Mychajliw is breaking the law by holding onto them

"I think it kind of raises a lot of questions about what are they trying to hide. If there's nothing to hide, if you have the truth on your side, why not bring this out in the open and discuss it? We just found out about this morning that the meeting was going to be delayed," Mychajliw said.

But Deputy Budget Director Tim Callan, appearing before the committee on another matter, tells News 4 that Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert was already scheduled to be out of the office this week.

"[Mychajliw's] flat out wrong. That's not true at all," Callan said. "Commissioner Dankart is a long-planned vacation. We are happy to come over here to the Government Affairs Committee."

Legislator Kevin Hardwick says he was assured that all questions about how sensitive documents ended up in open totes and boxes would be answered on Tuesday.

Hardwick said, "We just want the truth. We want to get to the bottom of this thing. Find out exactly what's going on. And then, again, minutes before the meeting today, I hear that no one is coming."

Callan responded, "No stall tactics. Commissioner Dankert was out of town all week. And it's important that the commissioner of the department where the comptroller is leveling such serious charges be here to answer questions."

Now both the administration and the Legislature must agree on a day when everyone can be available.

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