The scathing report by the state Authorities Budget Office offers not only fair but trenchant criticism of the long-politicized Erie County Water Authority. It also validates the useful spotlight focused by The News on the authority’s entrenched failings.
But the state’s recommendation that Jerome Schad, the authority’s new chairman, be replaced is an over-reach. It’s true that he served on the authority for the past two years. But as a Democrat, he was a minority voice only on a tightly controlled Republican board.
Moreover, the state report became public only about a month after Schad became the new board’s chairman. Even in that time, the board has broadened transparency and initiated other improvements. If Schad is now denied the chance to continue this more enlightened leadership, then he is simply made a scapegoat for mistakes over which he had little control. That’s no way to govern fairly or effectively.
Whether the Erie County Water Authority needs to be restructured is another issue. And a case can be made for that.
But as long as the present structure exists, the new board under Schad’s leadership should have a reasonable time to continue to implement the reforms it has started and recommended by the state. After all, they provide a public standard to judge the new board’s – under Schad’s leadership – performance. He and the board deserve that chance.