Legislature approves resolution urging County Executive to have open discussion about CPS

Today, the Eric County Legislature approved a resolution requesting the County Executive attend and speak at a special public meeting on the ongoing problems in CPS and the Department of Social Services. The resolution received bipartisan (7-4) support as Legislators from both sides of the aisle recognize the role the County Executive has in this discussion.

 

The resolution was drafted after many Legislators raised frustrations at his refusal to participate in any conversation with media or the public on the issue directly.

 

“It is our hope that the County Executive will see the value in having this meeting and be present to discuss this serious issue. CPS will never be perfect and therefore we must remain vigil. Legislator Morton’s suggestion to hold this meeting was a great idea and I believe could accomplish a lot. We owe it to the children of Erie County who need our help to continue the dialogue. At the head of this entire effort is the County Executive, which is why it is critical he be there,” said Chairman John Mills.

 

Prior to Thursday’s vote, the County Executive received a letter from Legislator Ted Morton requesting he attend a meeting with the Legislature. While the County Executive has yet to respond personally, the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, which oversees CPS, responded with his willingness to participate.

 

“While I appreciate the commissioner’s response and readiness to attend the meeting, quite frankly I am disappointed at County Executive Poloncarz’s tactics to dodge this incredibly serious issue. I am having a hard time understanding why there is any reason the County Executive wouldn’t want to have this meeting. When I was first elected to the Legislature, CPS was struggling and it was very concerning. I think while progress has been made, we can never be satisfied and meeting with the County Executive would be an important step in protecting our most vulnerable children. I want to have this open discussion to bring to light any issues we need to resolve immediately and to take a look at CPS’s long-term plan,” said Legislator Ted Morton.  

 

As Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, which handles all matters involving CPS, Legislator Lynne Dixon would like the special meeting to be held soon.

 

“There are still, and will always be, concerns with CPS. This meeting would bring the County Executive and Legislators together to openly discuss the status of this department and identify areas that need improvement. When dealing with CPS in the past, there have been disagreements between Legislators and the County Executive, but we have also worked together well. I think in recognizing that we all want what is best for these children in need, that the County Executive and Legislators need to be present for this discussion,” Legislator Dixon said. “I have heard from employees who are afraid to speak out and that just can’t happen. I think discussion would allow for us to truly address complaints that some don’t want to recognize are there and we need the County Executive to be engaged in this issue.”

 

“It is disappointing that our County Executive only talks about this issue when he wants to praise small drops in caseload numbers. We need to talk about the children, not about numbers, while there are still open cases, no matter the number, there are still issues. I fully support holding this joint meeting, I think a lot of good can come from meeting directly with County Executive Poloncarz. It is concerning to me that when approached with serious questions about the status of CPS that the County Executive always defers. He often spoke before the legislature as Comptroller, I would hope he is willing to hold same standard as Executive. I am optimistic that he will agree to attend the special meeting and give these children the consideration they deserve,” said Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo.

 

“I think one area that needs to be discussed during this meeting is morale. We have heard from county employees who feel they aren’t supported by managers and administrators. Caseworkers have an extremely difficult job but they do it because they want to help others. At the very least, we need to be helping them in every way we can. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we are hearing about these issues and while attempts have been made to fix the problems, the issues remain. Therefore, I think discussing this with the County Executive should be a priority. We need to hear from him and his plans to fix this. If caseworkers can’t do their job to the best of their ability, the safety of children is put at risk,” said Legislator Edward Rath, III. 

Legislator Lorigo

Contact

 

Joseph.Lorigo@erie.gov
Phone: (716) 858-8922
Fax: (716) 858-8818

Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo - District 10
Old Erie County Hall
92 Franklin Street, 4th Floor
Buffalo, NY 14202