Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz moved methodically to replace embattled Social Services commissioner Carol M. Dankert-Maurer, announcing Al Dirschberger as her successor last week. It took quite awhile, but it's done and Dirschberger appears to have clear sailing toward legislature affirmation. Still, this isn't likely to diffuse a recent DSS scandal - covered well by Investigative Post - indicating the Buffalo Urban League over billed the county for social work, then fired employees who blew the whistle.
The county department has so far been unresponsive to audit questions from the county comptroller's office. In fact, since a late November comptroller announcement of an investigation into the matter, not one of government watchdog's questions has been answered. Not even 100 days later.
Insiders say Dankert-Maurer was not responsible for the delays, but instead first deputy commissioner Judith Shanley is the one dragging her feet. She won't depart with the lame duck commissioner; she's still on the job. The prevailing opinion: Shanley and others were moving quickly behind the scenes to cover up Urban League invoices a whistleblower called "blatantly fraudulent billing". Insiders say Shanley has begun her own investigation, reaching out to whistleblowers to find out exactly what they know about the questionable billing as part of the cover up. Somehow, these will become blatantly simple billing errors.
Some say DSS has been slow to respond to the County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw's audit because Urban League president Brenda McDuffie is tight with Poloncarz. And the County Executive is clearly concerned about the issue: One Urban League whistleblower told PoliticsNY.net that Poloncarz personally requested her contact information from Investigative Post reporter Charlotte Keith. (She hasn't heard from him yet.)
Mychajliw is said to be busily preparing subpoenas. But now, with the fix in, you'll soon see a months-late response of "Nothing to see here!" as sure as the sun will shine.