The Rhino’s Scott Yost obtains e-mails shedding light on the chaos inside Guilford County’s Department of Social Services that led up to the food stamp backlog scandal:

The emails also reveal that the NC DHHS was getting disturbing complaints from Guilford County clients about poor customer service, rude social service workers and a failure of clients to receive benefits. One constant complaint among those whose food stamp benefits had not been renewed was that they couldn’t even talk to anyone at Guilford County DSS.

One email from the state to Guilford County reads, “Client has called 336-641-3000 [DSS’s main number] and was not able to pass customer service, was told case workers are not allowed to talk with clients. Client has a [redacted] child.”

Based on the emails, former DSS director Robert Williams —who resigned in March in the aftermath of the scandal —apparently was aware in January of the food stamp backlog:

Williams sent an email out to his staff and it was clear that the new requirements were of great concern to him.

Williams forwarded the letter to his supervisors and other top staff and wrote, “It is important that you read this as soon as possible! The training for Monday is rescheduled. What ever you have scheduled for Monday, cancel it. I expect you to be in Room 304 @ 10:00. We need to develop and implement a plan for taking care of the issues. We are all in this together.”

Apparently no plan was developed, or if it was it was not implemented, which is why Williams lost his job. And while the new leadership at the new Department of Health and Human Services shows promise, you have to wonder how long it will take to clean up this “giant mess.”