It is possible to support the unfortunate conclusions drawn by the state Authority Budget Office regarding the Erie County Water Authority while disagreeing with its recommendation that the Authority’s new chair, Jerome Schad, should step down immediately.
Clearly, failures of management have abounded at the ECWA, and these failures are rooted in a secretive and politicized Authority administration more interested in serving itself than ratepayers and the public at large.
This took place during a time in which Republicans held the majority in the Erie County Legislature and therefore held the reins at the ECWA. Schad was in the minority and had no power to enact long-range reform or alter day-to-day business practices. (And as Republicans scramble to stand with the angels of Good Government, we must remember that it was their appointees who approved a lucrative escape package for outgoing Executive Director Earl Jann.)
But now Schad does have that power, and since taking charge has moved quickly to respond to the ABO’s many criticisms. If the decision is made to maintain the ECWA as an independent entity rather than folding it into the structure of county government, as The Buffalo News editorial board has suggested, Schad should be given the opportunity to remake the Authority into an agency responsive and accountable to the people.
To do otherwise is unfair to Schad and smacks of the same expedient politics that sank the ECWA in the first place.