Poloncarz taps insider for new administrative post - The Buffalo News

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Poloncarz taps insider for new administrative post

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has filled two of three administrative posts created through a reorganization of the Department of Social Services earlier this year.

Brian Bray, who had been the county executive’s liaison to the County Legislature, will serve in one of them.

Bray’s new job, which he has already posted on his LinkedIn page, is as special assistant to Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer. His specific duties and qualifications were unclear Tuesday.

Bray has previously served as public affairs officer at the Erie County Water Authority, deputy clerk of the Legislature and a senior legislative assistant for Buffalo Common Council.

The second deputy commissioner of DSS is being filled by Sharon Rochelle, who has a master’s degree in community and school health. Rochelle, who is working on a second master’s degree in public administration, also has experience working in child welfare programs at both the state and county level.

The remaining post, first deputy commissioner, has yet to be filled. Cornell said the job was offered to a candidate who later declined it after her current employer offered her a raise in salary.

The administration continues to advertise and interview candidates for that position.

Over the summer, Poloncarz sought and eventually received authorization from the Legislature to create three new administrative posts, along with hiring six new Child Protective Services caseworkers in the Department of Social Services.

It was a requested move that became critically important following the September beating death of 5-year-old Eain Brooks, allegedly at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend.

Relatives of the slain boy have charged that CPS caseworkers ignored numerous previous complaints of abuse against Eain by Matthew W. Kuzdzal. Social Services officials, in turn, complained that Child Protective Services was understaffed and its caseload overburdened.

When the requested reorganization came up for a vote in late September, the Legislature’s Republican-aligned minority caucus favored hiring nine CPS caseworkers instead of six and balked at the addition of three new administrative posts, which, some had argued, would likely wind up being patronage hires.

Meanwhile, Poloncarz spokesman Mark Cornell confirmed Tuesday that he will, on an interim basis, fill Bray’s old position as Legislative liaison. Cornell will also continue in his current role as Poloncarz’s director of policy and communications.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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