Acting Social Services Commissioner Meets with Legislature

Marie Cannon asked about CPS, Dirschberger knowledge, more

Mike Baggerman
April 19, 2018 - 12:29 pm

Marie Cannon in front of the Erie County Legislature on April 19, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Marie Cannon, the Acting Commissioner for Erie County's Department of Social Services, went before the Erie County Legislature on Thursday to discuss her plans for Erie County's largest department.

Cannon was named the first deputy commissioner of the department in 2014 and became the acting commissioner following the resignation of Al Dirschberger, who was accused of raping a subordinate last year. Cannon emphasized that she had no knowledge of the allegations prior to the information becoming public knowledge.

She also discussed her plan to address longstanding disputes with Child Protective Services, such as pay and morale from employees.

"We will be very intentional about making sure we enhance and strengthen our relationship with CPS," Cannon told WBEN. "When I talked about the communication, it (means) having regular times with the administration and talk about the issues and have their leadership to support their supervisors and training. I really believe that you really support. You make sure people have tools. You make sure they have the resources. You make sure they have the training and the support to make sure we stay on mission point."

She said that she will "shake up" some departments based on data she receives from surveys, focus groups, face-to-face conversations, and other internal data.

"If we can have all of us be more responsive and, I think, clear in our communication and transparent and really looking at strengthen our collaboration with our staff, I think (we can support our staff better)," Cannon told the legislature. "For family dependence, which is the site I managed, we had some grumblings. One of the things I believe is 'what is the grain of truth in it?'. If staffers are saying they're not being heard then there is a grain of truth in it. What we did is we met with the staff, established all staff meetings. I worked with our leadership team to say we want to make sure they (are heard)."

The county legislature still needs to formally appoint Cannon to the role. 

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