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Support for deputy commissioner

This chart shows that the number of homeless being housed in motels at county expense has dropped from 150 individuals at the end of March to 84 at the end of May.

By Fritz Mayer
June 12, 2013

The meeting of the Sullivan County Health and Family Services was packed with onlookers at the government center on June 6, with many people coming to show support for Dr. David Sager, who had been fired from his job as deputy commissioner of the Sullivan County Division of Family Services (DFS).

During public comment, several people took to the podium to praise Sager, a former county legislator, and his work with DFS, and to 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 had not been 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 DFS 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.

Sager had scheduled a news conference on June 12 at 11 a.m.

Homeless housing down

Also at the meeting, Parker handed out a chart that showed that the number of homeless people the county is paying to house in motels has dropped significantly over the past three months. At the end of March the total number of people was 150, by the end of May that number had dropped to 84.

There were several reasons given for the significant drop including the exclusion of people who are not eligible for housing due to income, sanction, jail, rehabilitation or hospitalization.

Another reason listed was a “more stringent interview process to search out previous or alternative resources.”

Parker also said that arrests warrants had been issued for 34 fathers with children in Sullivan County who had failed to make child support payments, and 21 arrests had been made of residents who were improperly receiving social service benefits.