Support for fired deputy commissioner; homeless housing down, arrests up
June 7, 2013 —
The meeting of the Sullivan County Health and Family Services Meeting was packed with onlookers at the government center on June 6, with many people coming to show support for Dr. David Sager, who had recently been fired from his job as deputy commissioner of the Division of Family Services (DFS).
During public comment several people took to the podium to praise Sager, who is a former county legislator, and his work with DFS, and question why this was not being addressed by the legislators. Supporter Liz Bucar asked if the legislators had been instructed not to talk about the case publicly.
Legislator Cindy Gieger said she was not instructed not to talk about the case by the county attorney. She also said she had no advance knowledge of the firing and was “shocked” when she learned about it. She said she is reviewing county policy regarding “at will” employees, who unlike civil service and union employees can be terminated for no reason.
Stepping away slightly from their usual practice of declining to discuss personnel issues, other legislators at the meeting also said they had no advance knowledge of the termination. Sager, who was present at the meeting, said he was attempting to bring into the public sphere the reason he was terminated.
Perhaps that is why commissioner Randy Parker decided to tell at least one newspaper that he decided to terminate Sager, who is a chiropractor, because of his lack of experience in social services.
The Sager issue played out as information about a number of other significant issues was discussed.
Women Infants and Children
Parker said his office had begun a dialogue with state officials about whether the county would continue to provide the federal Women Infants and Children (WIC) once the county contract expires in October 2014. WIC provides funding for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
WIC is a non-mandated program, but Parker called in an “absolutely necessary service.” He said if the county stopped being the provider, the state would look for other local providers to administer the program.
Sandy Oxford called consideration of the elimination of the program “reckless.” She said her understanding was that the program is entirely paid for by the federal government.