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SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:25 am

Charlotte News

29th September 2010

Mother expected in court on charges for prostituting daughter

The Fayetteville mother of murdered 5-year-old Shaniya Davis is expected in court Wednesday. Antoinette Davis is accused of prostituting her daughter. She is charged with human trafficking, felony child abuse, prostitution and filing a false police report.

Last November, Davis reported her daughter missing. The 5-year-old’s body was found a few days later in a ditch in Lee County. Mario McNeill is charged with kidnapping, raping murdering her.

http://charlotte.news14.com/content/local_news/triangle/630913/mother-expected-in-court-on-charges-for-prostituting-daughter


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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:27 am

Fay Observer

Wed Sep 29, 2010

Grannis to discuss DSS probe in Shaniya Davis case

District Attorney Ed Grannis will speak publicly Thursday about the "conduct of the Department of Social Services" regarding the murder of Shaniya Davis.

A news release from Sheriff Moose Butler's office this morning announced the news conference.

(continues)

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/09/29/1035226?sac=Home

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:29 am

Fay Observer

Wed Sep 29, 2010

By Francis X. Gilpin

DSS to seek outside advice

The Cumberland County Department of Social Services director said Wednesday she is seeking outside help for the child welfare office that dealt with the family of Shaniya Davis.

Brenda Reid Jackson's announcement came hours after District Attorney Ed Grannis scheduled a news conference for today to discuss the department's "conduct" in connection with investigation of the 5-year-old girl's murder.

(continues)

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/09/30/1035327?sac=Home

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:28 am

Fay Observer

Thu Sep 30, 2010

DSS hindered police in Shaniya Davis case, DA says

District Attorney Ed Grannis has accused the Cumberland County Department of Social Services of hindering Fayetteville police while detectives frantically searched for 5-year-old Shaniya Davis last November.

"The failure of the Department of Social Services to respond quickly, to cooperate and to try to help in this high-profile case places great concern within law enforcement," Grannis said Thursday at a news conference attended by city police. "Is this agency trying to protect those who badly need its help and assistance, or is it simply trying to protect itself?"

Despite his criticism, Grannis said he won't prosecute Director Brenda Reid Jackson or other DSS officials for obstructing justice.

Shaniya's mother reported the girl missing from her Fayetteville mobile home on Nov. 10. Her whereabouts were unknown for two days, until a security video surfaced showing her being carried into a Sanford hotel.

The man carrying her, Mario Andrette McNeill, has been charged with Shaniya's kidnapping, rape and murder. The girl's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, is facing child abuse charges involving prostitution.

After the arrests, police complained to Grannis that they hadn't received full cooperation from DSS in the murder probe.

Grannis asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into it. Last week, however, Grannis took the DSS investigation away from the SBI and gave it to Sheriff Moose Butler, whose internal affairs office wrapped up the probe this week.

Findings

In announcing his findings Thursday, Grannis said police had to go to court last fall to force the DSS to turn over records that showed social workers had been dealing with the Davis family for years.

Detectives didn't get any records until their court order was served on the Department of Social Services on Nov. 13, three days after the girl was reported missing.

"It's only after this order is served on DSS that DSS provides material which refers to the suspect in this case," Grannis said.

McNeill wasn't interviewed by a city homicide detective until Nov. 13, court records show.

The day before, Nov. 12, police received the surveillance footage from the Sanford hotel showing McNeill carrying the child on Nov. 10.

The girl's body was found in a wooded area off N.C. 87 in Lee County on Nov. 16.

Grannis said detectives didn't get a complete set of DSS records until December, after police obtained more court orders compelling the DSS to produce the documents.

"It was critically important that DSS cooperate in working with law enforcement in every way to possibly save the life of this child," Grannis said. "It does not appear that that occurred."

While DSS officials stalled, Grannis said, police got worrisome information from inside the department. A DSS employee told a city detective on Nov. 11, according to Grannis, "that law enforcement needs to be aware that law enforcement is not getting everything, that they are not being told everything and there is more to this."

After police discovered that the DSS records received on Nov. 13 were incomplete, they received a second batch on Nov. 20.

Three days after that, however, a city detective was told that a DSS employee had been ordered to delete all agency e-mails related to the family of Shaniya Davis.

The worker was instructed to print out the e-mails before deleting them, Grannis said, and place the printouts into case files.

The next day, Nov. 24, the employee asked her supervisors to put in writing their order to delete the e-mails, Grannis said. Two supervisors told the woman the order wouldn't be written down, Grannis said.

Furthermore, the DSS employee was informed that she would be considered insubordinate and disciplined if she didn't follow the oral order, the prosecutor said.

The DSS employee didn't delete the e-mails. She forwarded them to Fayetteville police, Grannis said.

Grannis said the order to delete the e-mails - issued by Jackson, the DSS director - looked to be designed to move the electronic correspondence beyond the reach of news reporters, who might request the printouts under the state public records law. DSS officials believe they can keep case files secret under state law.

"The Nov. 23 decision by DSS to order e-mails to be deleted," Grannis said, "appears to be an effort to protect its public image by preventing the media and the public from having access to these records."

SBI criticized

Grannis was equally critical of the SBI.

"To say we were not happy with the quality of the SBI report would be an understatement," said the prosecutor, who is retiring at the end of this year. "In my 40 years, I've never seen anything from the SBI that bothered me this much."

Grannis said an SBI agent, who came to believe the dispute between DSS and Fayetteville police was a "misunderstanding," initially told two of the prosecutor's aides that Jackson had claimed police were caught trying to break into DSS headquarters. The police were supposedly after information about the Shaniya case.

Stunned, the district attorney's aides couldn't believe what they had just heard, Grannis said.

Grannis said the SBI agent repeated Jackson's assertion twice.

Only later did the SBI agent recheck her notes and amend her recollection of an interview with Jackson.

The agent said that Jackson had told her the burglary attempt was by a Fayetteville Observer reporter, not a Fayetteville police officer.

Grannis didn't seem to put much stock in either version of the SBI agent's recounting of her interview with Jackson.

"Now I was not present when the SBI interviewed the director, and I don't know what was said," Grannis said. "But if DSS contends that either a member of the Fayetteville Police Department or the Fayetteville Publishing Co. attempted to break into DSS to obtain information in this case, that would certainly be an interesting story."

The district attorney said he was not aware of any police report filed by the Department of Social Services about an attempted break-in by an officer or reporter.

After the news conference, Jackson issued a statement through a spokeswoman: "I understand that the Sheriff's Office has concluded the investigation requested by the District Attorney, and that there will be no charges filed against anyone at DSS. We have no further comment."

Chet Oehme, chairman of the county Social Services Board, took notes during the news conference. He left the room at the Sheriff's Office when Grannis finished and didn't speak with reporters.

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/09/30/1035661?sac=Home

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:36 am

Charlotte News

1/10/2010

By: Gavin MacRoberts

DSS defends its handling of Shaniya Davis case

FAYETTEVILLE -- Members of the Cumberland County Social Services board defended the department after the local district attorney accused the agency of hindering officers during the Shaniya Davis murder investigation.

They say the problems may have stemmed from poor communication between the agency and the police department. Members of the social services board said they will take a look at the report once they receive it before making any decisions.

"My thinking is that we probably need to, or we will talk to the director about issuing what I call a written protocol," said Marvin Rouse, of the social services board.

A written protocol would set guidelines for both DSS and the police to follow for sharing information during investigations.

The district attorney said he will not file any charges against any employees of DSS and said the investigation is closed.

http://charlotte.news14.com/content/local_news/triangle/631000/dss-defends-its-handling-of-shaniya-davis-case

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:40 am

Fay Observer

Sat Oct 02, 2010

Details of SBI's social services probe likely won't be released

How the State Bureau of Investigation allegedly bungled a criminal probe of the Cumberland County Department of Social Services may never be fully aired.

A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the SBI, said Friday a bureau report on the DSS investigation isn't likely to be made public. SBI files aren't considered public records in North Carolina, said Noelle Talley, even after a case is closed without an arrest.

District Attorney Ed Grannis said the SBI report was full of factual errors that precluded a successful prosecution of county Social Services Director Brenda Reid Jackson, who was accused by Fayetteville police of hampering their investigation into the murder of Shaniya Davis.

The 5-year-old girl's body was found six days after she was reported missing Nov. 10 from a Fayetteville mobile home park.

Grannis said police had to wait days and obtain numerous court orders before the DSS produced thousands of pages of documents chronicling years of contact between county social workers and the girl's family.

The prosecutor said he was "upset" that the SBI had concluded the friction between Jackson and city police was just a "misunderstanding."

Grannis said he went over the SBI report, line by line, with the police. "It took us about a day to realize that we were not going to be able to proceed criminally," Grannis said.

At a news conference this week, Grannis suggested some DSS records belatedly turned over to police helped city detectives identify a man seen carrying Shaniya into a Sanford hotel.

That man, Mario Andrette McNeill, 30, was later charged with Shaniya's kidnapping, rape and murder. The girl's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, 26, is facing child abuse charges involving prostitution.

DSS officials had an investigation of the Davis household open at the time Antoinette Davis reported her daughter missing, Grannis said.

Police Chief Tom Bergamine complained to Grannis after social workers told city detectives that Jackson and her managers were ordering DSS records about the Davis family withheld or destroyed.

Grannis called in the SBI, but came away disappointed with the bureau.

"To say we were not happy with the quality of the SBI report would be an understatement," Grannis told reporters. "In my 40 years, I've never seen anything from the SBI that bothered me this much."

The chairman of the county Social Services Board signaled Friday that DSS officials may use the purportedly flawed but secret SBI report to begin repairing their tarnished image.

"That's not completely true, that SBI report," said Chet Oehme. "Things were quoted in there that weren't absolutely true."

Oehme said his board may convene a special meeting next week.

"We just have to explain to the public what we do in these cases," Oehme said.

Cooper spokeswoman Talley said the SBI would be happy to meet with Grannis to discuss his concerns.

The attorney general has been doing a lot of explaining lately about the SBI, as the unorthodox methods of the bureau's forensic laboratory potentially jeopardize other criminal cases.

Cumberland County commissioners were silent Friday on what they might do about the DSS, which has been racked with dissension and turnover among social workers who handle child-protection cases.

The commissioners, who appointed Jackson to a county child-homicide prevention council earlier this year, have argued they have little control over the DSS. They point to state officials, who provide most DSS funding.

A state Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said no official was available Friday to talk about the Grannis findings.

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/10/02/1035860?sac=Home

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Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:43 am

Fay Observer

Tue Oct 05, 2010

No action expected in DSS inquiry

Cumberland County commissioners said Monday they aren't inclined to do anything about the Department of Social Services based solely on a prosecutor's allegations last week.

District Attorney Ed Grannis said the DSS was slow to cooperate with Fayetteville police searching for a missing 5-year-old girl in November.

The girl, Shaniya Davis, later turned up dead.

At a news conference, Grannis suggested some DSS records eventually turned over to police helped detectives identify a man seen carrying Shaniya into a Sanford hotel while she was still alive.

That man, Mario Andrette McNeill, 30, was later charged with Shaniya's kidnapping, rape and murder. The girl's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, 26, is facing child abuse charges involving prostitution.

DSS officials had an investigation of the Davis household open at the time the girl was reported missing, Grannis said.

Police Chief Tom Bergamine persuaded Grannis to call in the State Bureau of Investigation after social workers told city detectives that DSS officials were withholding or destroying records about the Davis family.

During the news conference, Grannis read excerpts from an SBI report he had requested.

Grannis said the SBI report was full of errors, and he decided against pursuing any charges against DSS officials. Grannis named DSS Director Brenda Reid Jackson as the agency official responsible for hampering the investigation of the Shaniya Davis murder.

"I have not seen the report," Billy King, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said Monday. "I don't know what to say."

King said he thought the SBI probe would remove what he called "the cloud" over the DSS.

With Grannis criticizing the SBI's report, however, King said: "It kind of muddies the waters even more."

Commissioner Kenneth Edge, the county's liaison to the DSS, said he had no reaction to the Grannis news conference.

"I don't know what was in his report," Edge said. "You can't talk about what you don't know anything about."

The day before the news conference, Edge praised the county Social Services Board, which hired Jackson two years ago.

"I think you're making some real progress," Edge told the board after Jackson announced DSS reforms.

Other commissioners were more critical Monday.

Jimmy Keefe said there isn't much he and the other commissioners can do, since they appoint just two of the five members of the Social Services Board.

Keefe and Commissioner Phillip Gilfus voted against the reappointment of Marvin Rouse to the Social Services Board in August. Rouse was reappointed on a 5-2 vote by the commissioners.

"Obviously, there's some issues," said Keefe. "We get to appoint two of them. I think it's seriously worth taking a look at when they come back up."

Two other seats on the Social Services Board are filled by state officials. The fifth member is chosen by the other four.

A spokeswoman for the state Division of Social Services said nobody was available Monday to comment about the Grannis news conference. Nobody was available at the division Friday, either.

Cumberland County Commissioner Jeannette Council said she was frustrated that more isn't known about specific DSS failures in the Shaniya Davis case.

"I've got questions," Council said. "What I really want to say, it would blast your eardrum."

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/10/05/1036693?sac=Home

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:46 am

Fay Observer

Wed Oct 06, 2010

DSS board to meet with director

The Cumberland County Social Services Board plans to meet Friday to discuss a prosecutor's scathing critique of its director.

But the board, which oversees the county Department of Social Services, probably won't be talking in public, Chairman Chet Oehme said Tuesday. The board plans to meet in closed session.

At a news conference last week, District Attorney Ed Grannis singled out county Social Services Director Brenda Reid Jackson while accusing the DSS of failing to cooperate promptly with police searching for a missing 5-year-old girl in 2009.

The girl, Shaniya Davis, later turned up dead.

DSS officials had an investigation of the Davis household open at the time the girl was reported missing in November, Grannis said.

But the DSS didn't begin to turn over files until Fayetteville police got a court order, the prosecutor said.

Grannis said some DSS records eventually provided to police contained information about a man seen carrying Shaniya into a Sanford hotel while she was still alive.

That man, Mario Andrette McNeill, 30, was later charged with Shaniya's kidnapping, rape and murder. The girl's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, 26, is facing child abuse charges involving prostitution.

Private meeting

The notice of Friday's special meeting of the Social Services Board cites two circumstances in which state law allows public bodies to convene in private.

The first exemption to the open-meetings law allows private meetings to prevent disclosure of confidential information. The second exemption permits private meetings when public employee performance is discussed.

Oehme said the Social Services Board wants to hear from Jackson and one of her aides, Heather Skeens, behind closed doors.

"We'll be working with Brenda and Heather and some of the other people there," Oehme said, "and ask them pointed questions."

After social workers told city detectives that DSS officials were withholding or destroying records about the Davis family, Police Chief Tom Bergamine persuaded Grannis to call in the State Bureau of Investigation.

But Grannis said the resulting SBI report was so full of errors that he couldn't pursue criminal charges against DSS officials.

During the news conference, Grannis said Jackson ordered county employees to delete e-mails about Shaniya Davis and her family.

"We're going to investigate all those accusations," Oehme said of the e-mail deletions.

Besides Jackson, the district attorney didn't identify other DSS employees involved in alleged wrongdoing.

But Oehme said that won't make any difference to the Social Services Board.

"I know Brenda and Heather have the names," he said. "So we're going to discuss that."

The board may issue a written statement after Friday's closed meeting, Oehme said.

Board members

The five-member Social Services Board is made up of two appointees chosen by the county commissioners. Oehme occupies one of those seats.

Two other board members are appointed by the state Social Services Commission. The fifth member is picked by the other four.

The county commissioners declined to take public action at the DSS after the Grannis news conference. The commissioners said they don't have authority over the DSS.

State Social Services Director Sherry Bradsher said her division usually doesn't get involved in county DSS operations, either.

"If an employee does something that's inappropriate, or the allegations are something that leads one to believe that they did something inappropriate, we're going to direct that back to the appropriate authority at the local level," Bradsher said Tuesday.

"We're going to be concerned about it and we're going to say, 'Yes, somebody needs to look into this,' " Bradsher added. "But, if it's personnel-related or if it's something like misuse of funds at the local level or something, then we're going to make sure the right parties at the local level will have that information so they can conduct their investigation."

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/10/06/1037005?sac=Home

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default Re: SHANIYA NICOLE DAVIS -Aged 5 years - Fayetteville, N.C. (USA)

Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:51 am

abc local

Friday, October 08, 2010

DSS says it did not withhold info in Davis case

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- North Carolina's Department of Social Services fired back at Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis Friday.

Grannis has accused the agency of withholding vital information in the Shaniya Davis case.

Davis, 5, was taken from her Fayetteville home in November 2009. Mario Andrette McNeill has been charged with kidnapping, rape and murder. He was seen on a hotel surveillance video with Davis.

The girl's mother, Antoinette Davis, is charged with child abuse involving prostitution.

At a news conference late last month, Grannis said problems started the day Davis was reported missing when DSS left detectives waiting hours for assistance.

"It was critically important that DSS cooperate in every way to save the life of this child, it does not appear that occurred," said Grannis.

Eventually, he said it took two court orders to force DSS to handover missing documents that were not included in an initial report to the DA's office.

But in a written response Friday, the Cumberland County Social Services Board said there was no delay.

"We have concluded that the agency worked diligently with the Fayetteville Police Department to provide all information," says the statement.

The statement also says the DSS director also "unequivocally denies" alleging a Fayetteville police officer tried to break into DSS offices to obtain information.

The statement says the incident never occured.

Grannis has enlisted the help of the Cumberland Co Sheriff's Office to review the DSS handling of the case in order to have "a set of fresh eyes" on the matter.

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=7714472


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Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:56 am

Fay Observer

Sat Oct 09, 2010

Open Access: Closed SBI files to stay outside reach of public

District Attorney Ed Grannis raised troubling questions about both the Cumberland County Department of Social Services and the State Bureau of Investigation at a Sept. 30 news conference.

Afterward, The Fayetteville Observer attempted to get some answers about what county social workers did or didn't do before the 2009 murder of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis.

The newspaper filed public records requests with Grannis and Sheriff Moose Butler. The requests sought the records compiled during an SBI investigation of the DSS, initiated by Grannis at the request of Fayetteville police. Chief Tom Bergamine told Grannis that police detectives hadn't gotten full cooperation from DSS during the murder investigation.

The SBI's conclusion was that the dispute between DSS and police was a "misunderstanding," said Grannis, who was unhappy with the agency's probe.

The SBI files went from the desk of Grannis to that of sheriff's Capt. Mike Casey.

After leafing through the paperwork, a Butler spokeswoman said, Casey delivered bad news to Grannis: The statements from police and the SBI were so contradictory that prosecuting DSS officials for obstructing justice would be impossible. Grannis went before reporters last month and announced there would be no criminal prosecutions in the SBI probe of the DSS.

Butler was first with his response to the Observer's public records request. Spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said Wednesday that all SBI records that Grannis had furnished to Casey had been promptly returned to the district attorney.

Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for state Attorney General Roy Cooper, told the Observer that the SBI doesn't have to disclose its closed investigative files under North Carolina law.

Does the status of the SBI's closed DSS files change if, as Grannis did, a prosecutor quotes liberally from those documents during a news conference?

Talley said prosecutors who ask the SBI to look into something have the discretion to do whatever they wish with the resulting investigative files.

So it all came down to Grannis.

Would the district attorney release the SBI files?

The answer was no.

An administrative assistant for Grannis told the Observer later Wednesday that, in keeping with a long-standing office policy, the DA returned the closed files to the SBI, where they will stay outside the reach of the public.

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/10/09/1037273?sac=Home

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Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:08 am

abc11

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cumberland County DSS chairman resigns

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- The chairman of the Cumberland County Department of Social Services board has submitted his resignation effective immediately.

Click here to read the letter

In a letter Monday, Chet Oehme told Cumberland County Board of Commissioners chairman Billy King that he was leaving because of two reasons.

"My inability to lead the present board to accommodate and cooperate with other government officials and administers in the spirit of openness, achieving public distrust with DSS," Oehme said.

He went on to say that he is also resigning because of the lack of fairness in the reporting of some local newspaper reporters.

Oehme's resignation comes days after he and the board fired back at Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis. Grannis had accused the agency of withholding vital information in the 2009 Shaniya Davis murder case.

Davis, 5, was taken from her Fayetteville home in November 2009. Mario Andrette McNeill has been charged with kidnapping, rape and murder. He was seen on a hotel surveillance video with Davis. The girl's mother, Antoinette Davis, is charged with child abuse involving prostitution.

Last month, Grannis said problems started the day Davis was reported missing when DSS left detectives waiting hours for assistance.

Eventually, he said it took two court orders to force DSS to handover missing documents that were not included in an initial report to the DA's office.

But the Cumberland County Social Services Board later said there was no delay.

Grannis has since enlisted the help of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office to review the DSS handling of the case in order to have "a set of fresh eyes" on the matter.

Oehme served as chairman for four years and worked for the county for five years. He said he oversaw "one of the most important and difficult county departments."

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=7718490

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Post  merlynsam on Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:13 am

Fay Observer

Sun Oct 17, 2010

Editorial: Secrets - DSS saga shows why more reform is needed.

When Chairman Chet Oehme resigned from the Cumberland County Social Services Board on Monday, he cast himself as a proponent of openness.

Oehme said he had wanted the previous week's meeting with DSS Director Brenda Reid Jackson to be public. Jackson, under fire for her agency's handling of files involving murdered 5-year-old Shaniya Davis, was exonerated by the board.

Had it been a public session, it would have been the first faint ray of sunshine in a long saga of secrecy. From the day little Shaniya disappeared, few agencies involved have divulged much information. And since District Attorney Ed Grannis requested a probe of DSS employees' actions in the case, nobody has provided a shred of evidence.

Grannis, in a rare press conference, said DSS had obstructed the investigation. But he wouldn't release a report on the State Bureau of Investigation's probe. Sheriff Moose Butler wouldn't release it, either. Nor would either release results of the Sheriff's Office's follow-up. The SBI and its boss, Attorney General Roy Cooper, are mum as well. And while the DSS board insists it did no wrong, there's no evidence coming from that office, either.

What we have is clear evidence that the state legislature should continue its reforms of state personnel and public-records laws. This case is important to the public, but we're being told it's none of our business.

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/10/17/1039757

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Post  merlynsam on Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:59 am

Fay Observer

Thu Oct 28, 2010

By Francis X. Gilpin

Cumberland commissioners to discuss DSS board vacancy

Cumberland County commissioners may appoint one of their own to help oversee the Department of Social Services.

The commissioners are expected Monday to discuss a vacancy on the Social Services Board created by the Oct. 11 resignation of Chet Oehme, who was chairman.

The Department of Social Services has been roiled for a year by fallout from the death of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis and turnover among social workers who investigate child abuse.

The DSS monitored the girl's family before she was kidnapped, raped and murdered last fall. Her mother and a Fayetteville man face criminal charges in the case.

Fayetteville police and District Attorney Ed Grannis later complained that DSS managers were uncooperative with the murder investigation. The Social Services Board defended DSS Director Brenda Reid Jackson from accusations she hampered the probe as well as intimidated experienced social workers into quitting.

The commissioners had requested to meet with the Social Services Board. Commissioner Kenneth Edge, a liaison between the commissioners and the Social Services Board, said the board turned down the request.

Commissioners Jimmy Keefe and Phillip Gilfus then voted against giving one of their two appointees to the Social Services Board another term.

With only two appointees on the five-member board, the commissioners lack effective control of the DSS.

With Oehme's resignation, the commissioners may have a chance to change that. Keefe wants the Board of Commissioners to consider appointing one of its own as a voting member on the Social Services Board.

In e-mail correspondence this month, Keefe noted the county Mental Health Board has two commissioners who serve as voting members. The time may be here to put a commissioner on the Social Services Board, Keefe wrote.

"I think we could well use 3 voting commissioners on that board!" Commissioner Marshall Faircloth replied.

Commissioner Jeannette Council suggested at an election forum last week that county officials may do something about that, too.

"I think it can only be straightened out through legislation," said Council.

Besides the two appointees of the commissioners, the Social Services Board is made up of two appointees from a state commission. The fifth member is chosen by the other four.

Council also was miffed at the Social Services Board's refusal to cooperate with commissioners who had questions about employee turnover and the Shaniya Davis case.

"The majority of the board decided not to divulge information to us," Council said at the debate. "Looking into the situation, our hands are tied."

Council added: "There is a situation where we will look to the legislature to help us clarify these wrongs."

Mary Deyampert-McCall, who is chairwoman of the Social Services Board since Oehme's exit, said Wednesday she and her colleagues are always willing to meet with the commissioners.

Deyampert-McCall blamed "miscommunication" for the perception among commissioners that her board wouldn't meet with them.

"We invited them to come to our meeting," Deyampert-McCall said. "We never actually refused to meet with anybody."

Deyampert-McCall doesn't see a need to change how her board is constituted. "That structure appears to be a solid structure," she said. "It's working for us."

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/10/28/1043327?sac=Home


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