Erie Co. Exec. Mark Poloncarz on Resignation of Social Services Commissioner

WBEN Extras
Thursday, December 28th
Al Dirschberger resigns as Erie County Social Services Commissioner Thursday at the request of County Executive Poloncarz

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Wanna go. You know. It's time it's just a little check for you 12312345. Check 123. Should be taxed if you're in an okay 12345. Tech to tech. Data center in comparison so. 123 took 123412345678910. Low level level from the rest building. I have saved my love and that. It's. Oh yeah. Tom once again here's a level 412345. The condition of the Texas this is coming through came when two treatises on the brick link 12345. And yeah can write about it exactly that. It's a tough time you know. Keeping an engine. You're going to. You. Keep it pretty easy. That can not one. We get her 123 Edmonton oiler and Tommy should be here in that actor went to three tick tick tick. I think my. Commissioner Roger for resigned today at twelve noon by email. Pursuant to my request that the tender his resignation. Last Saturday December 23 at approximately 10 AM. It was made where verbally and alleged serious incident involving the commissioner and his subordinate employee. In Albany, New York during a conference. On December 5 and or sixth of this year. Mrs. passer. I immediately engage senior staff including the county attorney and the personal commissioner who was and still is in the United Kingdom on vacation. In reviewing allegation and to examine relevant accounting personnel policies. Later that evening in response to my call to him received a return call from an Albany police department detective. I informed him that I had no interest in and hearing in action I informed him that I had no interest in inner fearing in his investigation. But because of the critical importance of mr. Kirsch burgers position. I needed some information. I asked him whether mr. doctor Berger was a suspect in a criminal investigation in Albany County. He confirmed that commissioner Peter Berger was a person of interest in the criminal investigation. After I asked him what if any charges have been filed there would be filed at that time. The detective confirmed no charges have been filed in would not confirm any potential charges that might be filed against him in the future. Over the weekend we continued her internal investigation. As well as through Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. As part of internal investigation. He written incident report was filed by eight senior DS a staff member at 8:30 PM last night. And sent to the personal commissioner the deputy county executive. In my chief of staff for him. I actually did not receive a copy of this report until this morning. This morning upon review of the incident report and other information provided during the internal investigation. The county attorney the deputy county executive and I determined that the commissioner clearly violated multiple accounting personnel policies. Mr. George burger was not in county government today he has not been an office all week he was scheduled to be off. Therefore in approximately 10 AM our chief of staff called him and told them that he must report to the rat building to discuss a personnel matter. In former chief of staff that he was out of the area and would not be available to meet would be back in town tomorrow if that was acceptable to the county executive. He was called back. And a message was left asking him to meet today. He did not come into the office but he did call back. In which time a conference call was held with mr. Kirsch Berger the county attorney the deputy county executive Mike chief of staff and die. I was at approximately 11 o'clock. She's 1115. I informed mr. Draper on the phone when I knew of the investigation. I asked him specific questions with regards to his conduct. Based on his responses I believe he violated multiple accounting policies and asked him to resign which he did verbally over the fall. At that point I asked for a written confirmation of his resignation via email which he agreed to do. Informed commissioner grouper that upon receipt of his email is access to the county system including access to all county buildings. Would be deactivated. And he would be required to turn in all county property including cell phones and laptops. Approximately one hour after that conversation are receive the following email from commissioner for cheaper. That's being passed around to me members of the media. I aimed tendering my resignation effective 122817. Due to personal reasons. Thank you for the opportunity to work in an environment to better the lives of individuals. Upon receiving the email mr. drift burgers axis accounting systems was deactivated. And first deputy commissioners Marie can insure shell were informed mr. Kirsch burgers resignation. Mrs. cannon was asked to serve as acting commissioner until we search for replacement could be conducted. At 2:30 PM deputy county executive white joined first deputy commissioner Rochelle and Canon. To inform senior department of social service personnel. Mr. durst burgers resignation. And that mrs. cannon would be serving as acting commissioner. At no time today have irony member of my staff been advised of any criminal charges being filed against mr. Kirsch power. His resignation today is based on our internal investigation. And mr. durst burgers answers to my questions. A local media outlet is reporting that criminal charges have been filed against mr. Kirsch her we have no independent confirmation of that. Furthermore pursuant to a conversation between these senior staff member. And a representative of the Albany police department at 4:45. PM today. Our senior staff member was advised that no charges have been filed by the Albany police department against mr. order there. Regardless of whatever criminal investigation may be occurring his conduct warranted removal from his post. Due to the unique nature of the social service commissioner being appointed to a specific term. And not serving at my pleasure. I could not terminate him well and therefore I requested his resignation. Which he did provide. My administration demands the highest standards from our point of leadership. And based on the conduct that I believe occurred mr. durst burger. Was asked to resign and he did resign. I can't speak about it. Is a personal matter involving a Woolsey is subordinate employee. It's my understanding he was attending a conference. In Albany. That was not a official coney conference it was a conference dealing with issues associated with the department of social services matters. I didn't send them their but he did decide to go and he would have been paid for by coming. It's. It it was it's not. Unheard of for him and it's my understanding that there were multiple members agree cutting government represent an account at this or were there at the conference as. And noting that they were represented very coming government he was not there was only with this one individual. There. To my knowledge he's never been reprimanded. I've never reprimanded him with regards to these issues. I've not looked at his personal files please since this started it. As I've been county executive I am unaware of any reprimand with regards to. Conduct such loses. It. At this point I haven't because I thought the most important thing was to resolve this issue and determined we did the right thing. The social service commissioner. Is not only high profile position but the social service commissioner by law as the guardian of many individuals in our community at risk children. Adults that need protective services and my first and and and all of our inclination. Not only individuals here but others who were involved including as I noted the county's commissioner personnel David Palmer who's actually in England has been. Participating in phone conference's. That was to determine. Did he violate any policies. Do we have what we considered to be. Evidence to prove that he did it we put together our investigation. Today we do not talked to him until 1150 I had not talked to him at all. Since I learned of these alleged. Allegations. On Saturday the 23. Until I actually talked to him in the conference today. I led the conference I asked the questions based on his response. I determined that he violated company policy ultimately be called him violating county be had no longer any faith in him I asked for his resignation and he resigned. And that this team play. I can't talk about the particulars because it would be yours salmon returning you know I was there are so like I can't talk about it. I will note. We do background checks of all. Appointees in my administration he submitted to a background check at that time but that background check would only identify. A criminal charges or convictions and that's my knowledge there was nothing there. Will confirm it was weird him. And there. It. Well from a standpoint of the day to day operations I am very. Feel very secure that the staff that we have. Starting with. Acting commissioner cannon as well as first deputy commissioner should show from our family's safety division. Mrs. cannon works in the and we independence divisions as we have some incredible staff and our social services. This will not affected dated a provision of services. It's not the first time had to deal with the resignation. Or the he won't be considered the termination of social services commissioner because the prior social services commissioner. I was not rehired and we actually had to go through a process. In which at that time. Mrs. cannon was acting for a short period time. So all I don't have any concern that this will interfere with the services that are provided to people. I am as I noted I have. No interest in interfering in the end of this investigation the only pleased are. I did talk to a detective with the Albany PD on late Saturday. And in one of the things that I stressed to him is that I would like. As much information as possible but I do not want your fear that your investigation wherever it may stand. And and he confirmed that he was a person of interest he would not. State. Definitively what charges or if any charge would be filed against mr. Draper and his he noted to me that was not his responsibility that was for the Albany. District attorney's office to determine in the end. I do know is an attorney in practice law there are different ways in which charges can be brought against individual and arrest warrant can be made. Are based on probable cause it also can go before her injury at this time the Albany PD detective. Told me that there had not gone before grand jury. Grand jury is reviewing this issue and he was still in the process of his investigation. Throughout this last few days we had no evidence no information. To confirm that mr. carper had been arrested or any charges have been leveled against him. And when we we have senior staff member of my administration contacted. A representative of the Albany PD it for 45 PM today. Noted no charges have been filed against mr. George burger which is very very good I'm sixty during that no charges have been filed because he media outlet published. Making it sound like he has been arrested and he had been charged which we have no evidence self. And I think it's very important situation no matter what happens to an accurate information you know. It. I it's an ongoing police investigation and I think it's at this point it's appropriate for you contact the Albany PD. We look at things is associated with county government policies we've we've been number policies have been violent. And therefore based on maps regardless of whatever the results of the criminal investigation which may determine that no charges will be filed. I felt it was appropriate after we finally had enough sufficient information. To request the resignation. And he did resign. No no no. Did not find out about it I did I was not made aware nor any of these other individuals made aware. Until December 23. Saturday morning which you can imagine being the holiday weekend many people out of town like from personal commissioner actually having been in London gallery. That's it was very difficult to try to get people get information. I had I I had hoped she would have actually found out if there was a police report that was filed but I do have not seen. Though we've requested I have not seen a police reports I cannot confirm anything that might be in a police report is I've not seen it I don't even know local police report is filed. I do although that for the confirmation from the Albany detective that it there was an ongoing investigation. But by the Albany by representative of the Albany police department is active. That there was an ongoing investigation. And that mr. Berger was a person of interest but he did not. It would not confirm because I asked him. What are the potential charges could be leveled against mr. George Burns to your question he says I cannot give you their answer. Because I don't know what the charges will be if any charges will be. Those are in the hands of the Albany district attorney's office but because but the Arabs as it's because of the seriousness of this matter. I was not gonna wait to see if the Albany PD would. Would actually impanel a grand jury or would in effect arrest him at a later date felt it was important that we move internally. To do an internal investigation. That's why the county attorney was brought and that's why the director of personnel cunning commissioner personnel was brought in. That's why the deputy county executive was involved that's why my chief of staff chair for him it was involved and were very few people who actually knew that. This was not something that we were talking about cutting government because I do not wanna go out there and do something they can besmirch or to fame and individual. But we wanted to ensure that we were taking the right action after accounting. I have to have the utmost faith in my commissioners that they're acting appropriately if they violate. That faith in my guys than I have if it's somebody who serves my pleasure I will fire them. But I did not have he could not fire mr. Gerstner because he served for stated term. I could ask for his resignation if he had read objected to resignation request if you said no. I was willing to move forward with the process that exists in Erie county government which would have been a three person tribunal. Which would have included myself the county comptroller. And the chairman of the county legislature which would have been public. And noticed any public hearing. I was willing to go through it that if necessary but doctor Hirsch burger. Resign so it was unnecessary do. There. It. Well let's put this waved doctor Anders Burger King with high recommendations from those he was not in member of cutting government before he came from the enough for profits. He had very very high. Recommendations from those he certainly. I'm very disappointed I am I angry split mildly. About this entire situation because this is not something should have to deal with but once we realized we had an issue and problem we went about it to deal with it. I can say. Clearly that I expect when I hire someone to serve and I capacity role in my administration. I expect him to serve with integrity. I expect him to serve honorably I accept and expect them to serve the people of this community as I remind all. Members of my administration. Including individuals and I don't. That. You might think that you have a boss and their bosses a commissioner of the deputy county executive myself but that is not in fact correct. Our bosses are the people of your recount. I am accountable to the people very count and so he's each and every member of my staff whether there appointed or their member of civil service. And therefore I hold those people to the highest standards because in the end when you violate the public trust whatever it might be. You're you're violating the oath that you took. To uphold. Not just. Constitution it states constitution stating your in the charter of Erie county bought a level of integrity that I expect from my commissioners. You. Are I'd I'd rather not at this point because I think it it's could have an impact and any criminal investigation that's going. And I. I did not probably I don't know if I was required to inform but I did call the chairman. I called the minority leader. And I called one other individual the legislature called the chairman and I said based Ian resigned. I said based on his resignation notice that he was resigning for personal reasons. I told them that recant and was going to be appointed the acting and that we would commence a search but it probably would not start until after the new year. He was surprised. He asked me that I. The site is does come out of nowhere and icing yet basically did. But here we are today and at some point in the future hope fabulously more about it. I have not talked to. Though I know I do know that represented is very government have I'd rather not give the specifics of those conversations because I was. It. Are there are new be can you be following the use personal policies your government. That employee. We'll. Is is in some ways they they they. There that are associated with this but this matter in my eyes as we're dealing with today's regards to mr. Berger. The employees themselves it's subordinate who loses part of I will say is someone that we have. Great respect for and so for us. Oh. There. Well we did I do informed that the chairman. It did inform. The minority leader of the members of the legislature. We didn't anticipate that information would get out because we were letting our commissioners know the department of social service senior staff would. Informed as wells and they let subordinates know. We were intending to to provide more information. But I have to admit once. He local media outlet reported that charges have been filed and he'd been arrested which we had no evidence of I felt it was important that we hold the press conference tonight. To describe this situation that we were aware of the actions that were taken and confirmed that at no time have we been made aware that any arrest has been made. Nor have any charges have been filed. This is just because I think it's important because the public is hearing from a media outlet that he was arrested when he was charged and that to our knowledge is not accurate. I want people to understand. If the actions we're taking today were based on her internal investigation I do not want to interfere in any action that he Albany police department in Albany district attorney are. Are doing. And if mr. George burger broke the law he needs to be held responsible. But that's for the Albany County district attorney's office. And the people of the State of New York to make that determination. I was making its determination based on what we believe this is violation of articles. Oh thank you thank you.