I recently retired from the Erie County Water Authority after over 40 years. Yes, that Water Authority. When I tell someone I worked there, I always hear “Oh” unless I add “but I was civil service and not appointed.” And that’s the problem.
The recent coverage of the authority paints every employee as part of the “patronage pit” as The News calls it. The truth is that the majority of the employees are civil service and earned their positions through competitive examinations. Unfortunately, whenever a story about the Authority appears they are the ones who bear the brunt of public anger.
The authority civil service employees are the ones who actually do the work. Each new story that appears subjects them not only to public scorn but also to internal stresses placed upon them by appointed employees trying to justify their jobs and hide the truth. Every day they do their best to please many masters. They deserve to be appreciated for what they do.
Unfortunately the stories in the media do not cover the entire story. There is so much more. When press releases announce work force reductions it is never mentioned that they only affect non-exempt employees. Decisions and standards are set by appointed managers who have no idea if what they demand is possible. Policies are set, but questions about implementation are often never answered.
What happened to my position when I retired? It was changed from civil service to appointed and immediately filled.
Just so you know, changing the authority to a branch of county government would only replace one group of political sycophants with another.