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Erie County Legislators call for investigation into Social Services Department


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oneilj - Posted on 21 May 2013

The Erie County Legislature’s Minority Caucus held a press conference Tuesday, May 21, 2013 calling for a Legislative hearing to fully examine how sensitive Department of Social Service documents were disposed of improperly. The Minority Caucus, including Legislators Lynne Dixon, Kevin Hardwick, Joseph Lorigo and Edward Rath, announced it has submitted a resolution requesting that the Legislature set a hearing to investigate the matter, in order to obtain answers to several looming questions and respond to the concerns of residents.


“Just this past weekend I co-hosted a document shredding day with one of the towns in my district, encouraging residents to take the necessary steps to destroy sensitive materials and protect themselves. Then I learned that Erie County wasn’t taking any steps to protect the residents we serve. That is inexcusable and a serious misstep by that department. This hearing will help us understand how this happened and what are the possible consequences to help the county best respond,” said Legislator Dixon.


“It is critical that residents are able to trust the government is protecting the information collected from them. Vetting this issue in a public format will help resolve the issue and outline the necessary steps to stop it from happening again. I believe the government failed its residents and we need to do all we can to correct this error,” said Legislator Edward Rath.


“The residents of Erie County have been left with a lot of unanswered questions, including did any information end up in the wrong hands and are they at risk of identity theft? By conducting a comprehensive Legislative hearing, we can shine light on many of these questions, deliver answers, and help at-risk residents who may need assistance understanding how to protect their information,” said Legislator Kevin Hardwick.


“The audit by the Comptroller and response by the County Executive are just the beginning of this problem that is believed to have been going on for years. A deeper look into how this happened will help the county determine if there are additional breaches in procedure in other departments. We can’t be careful enough when handling the public’s sensitive information and our response to this carelessness has to be thorough,” said Legislator Joseph Lorigo.


The Minority Caucus has submitted a resolution [Click here] calling for a hearing to include testimony from the County Executive’s administration, the Commissioner of Social Services, the District Attorney and County Attorney. The Caucus is requesting the date of the hearing be set at its next session, Thursday, May 23 with closure of the investigation no later than July 2.