Erie County Legislators Demand Resignation of Water Authority Commissioner Schad

Schad last remaining commissioner in scathing state report

Mike Baggerman
June 19, 2018 - 2:04 pm
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Erie County Legislators Joe Lorigo and Tom Loughran called for the resignation of Erie County Water Authority Commissioner Jerome Schad on Tuesday, following a report last Tuesday from the New York State Authorities Budget Office which called for the resignation of all the commissioners from the board in 2016 and 2017.

Schad is the only remaining commissioner during that time period which also included Earl Jann, Robert Anderson, and Karl Simmeth.

"I want to end the corruption," Loughran said. "This action will freeze the game of musical chairs at the Erie County Water Authority."

A resolution was submitted on Tuesday morning from six legislators. All of the republicans supported the resolution while Loughran is the only democrat whose name is on the resolution. It's unknown at this time how other democrats plan to vote on the resolution.

"This is the first step we can take," Lorigo said. "We believe that Commissioner Schad should resign based on his behavior, complicitness, and actions while he served as commissioner during that time period."

Lorigo said Schad's resignation would help restore trust from the community in the Erie County Water Authority and that he would be "shocked" if anyone voted against the resolution.

It's still up to debate if the legislature can remove a commissioner. Lorigo said the law states that a person or body that makes the appointment is the one that can do the removal.

"We're not sure if that's the legislature as a whole or the chairman of the legislature based on how it's done," Lorigo explained. "We weren't the only people to contact the state authority's budget office to see if we have the authority, the county executive's office also called and asked. So clearly, it's something that everybody's looking at and we're trying to get to the bottom of whether or not we have that actual authority to do so."

Schad previously said he would not resign. He has been a commissioner since 2013.

"It's a broken system," Loughran said. "We all know it. You know it. The rate payers know it. The only resistence seems to be the political bosses that are not committed to this reform."

The resolution will be voted on by members of the legislature on Thursday.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued the following statement:

"Today I joined staff and legal counsel on a conference call with Jeffrey Pearlman, Executive Director of the NYS Authorities Budget Office ("ABO"), and his staff to discuss his office's recent report on the Erie County Water Authority. Today's call followed previous discussions by my administration with ABO staff since the ABO issued its report on the Water Authority's issues of transparency. Based on these conversations, and additional research my office is currently conducting, I will soon be offering a set of reforms to ensure the Water Authority, an entity created in 1950, meets the standards expected of government today."

Erie County Legislator Pat Burke released the following statement

“The issues facing the Erie County Water Authority are larger than one person. It oversees more than 3,500 miles of miles of pipes and other infrastructure, and currently carries at least $43 million in debt. It is plagued by decades of chronic mismanagement. The people of Erie County deserve a sober conversation about the process to reform the Authority – whether it is dissolving the Water Authority and merging it into county government or some other process. Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Legislature, who sat silent while their cronies oversaw the most secretive and clandestine period in the Authority's history, are offering little more than a partisan hit job in retribution for the well-deserved firing of former Commissioner and Executive Director Earl Jann.

The Erie County Water Authority is responsible for the oversight and delivery of our most precious resource, and the public deserves a serious response from the Legislature.  Today’s press conference was pure political theatrics and a time-wasting cynical game meant to obscure the hard questions and serious work.

We need the Republican County Comptroller to act urgently and give the Legislature a full analysis of the feasibility of Erie County taking over the Water Authority.  Anything less is just theatrics.”

 

 

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