Updated 10/13/2008 05:56 PM
Community wants DSS commissioner to resign
OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. -- As the father and stepmother of Erin Maxwell sit in jail, charged with endangering the welfare of a child, the focus has shifted to social services and their role in Erin's case. Many are angry that Erin wasn't taken from the home despite three visits from case workers and the community has started a petition asking commissioner Frances Lanigan to resign.
“I don't hold DSS responsible for Erin's murder. I hold DSS responsible for not removing that child from that home," said Granby resident Colleen Scott.
Police say Erin lived in deplorable conditions with rotting garbage and cat litter everywhere. This has some wanting stronger action taken against social services.
"Don't wait for her to resign, fire her!" said Volney resident Bill Salmonsen.
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Salmonsen says his car broke down in front of the Maxwell's house in April of this year. He says he went to knock on the door for help and got a look at the conditions Erin lived in. Salmonsen said the next day he called social services to tell them about Erin, but it was a very brief phone call.
“All they said is they cannot tell people how to live and they hung the phone up. There was no long conversation or anything," said Salmonsen.
We spoke to commissioner Lanigan about Salmonsen. She said she doesn't know anything about him calling social services in April and that no one in the office has said anything about fielding a call in April about Erin. Lanigan maintains that the last complaint they received about Erin was in 2006 and it is unfair to equate what case workers saw during their last visit to Erin's house with what was found on August 29.
Salmonsen said he didn't file a complaint with social services after that phone call. And they aren't the only ones he blames.
"I kind of fault myself, too, for not doing something more because I knew what needed doing," said Salmonsen.
As for the petition, the group says they will give it to the legislature chairman at a later date.