Erie County Legislature Calls on ECWA Commissioner Schad's Resignation

Calls for removal came from ABO report

Mike Baggerman
June 21, 2018 - 5:54 pm

Erie County Legislature. June 21, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Erie County Legislature decided on a resolution which would call on the Erie County Water Authority Commissioner Jerome Schad to resign on Thursday.

Schad was appointed commissioner of the heavily-criticized water authority in 2013. A report issued earlier this month by the Authorities Budget Office censured the water authority and called on the legislature to have Schad replaced. 

However, from the moment the resolution was brought up by Chairman Peter Savage, the partisanship began. 

It all began when Legislator John Bruso asked for the resolution to be moved to committee and give the commissioner an opportunity to speak in front of members of the legislature. 

"There's one person that can answer," Bruso said. "One person that can answer what took place prior to him taking charge. By asking him to resign...he won't be here next Thursday to be able to answer those questions. I think it's imperative that we do that."

The majority caucus of the legislature introduced an amendment to the resolution which called for Schad to meet with the legislature on June 28. A vote on the amendment failed when all five members of the republican minority caucus and Legislator Tom Loughran voted against it. 

Moments later, a second amendment was introduced by April Baskin of the majority caucus. This amendment chronicled much of the problems featured in the ABO report such as inaccurate information in response to FOIL requests, the "golden parachute" contract issued to Earl Jann, hiring political operative Michael Caputo's consulting firm for $60,000 per year, and several other criticisms. The second introduced amendment replaced the resolution entirely and, again, called for Schad to be at the Energy and Environment Committee meeting next Thursday. The amendment also proclaimed that the legislature intends to work with the water authority to address its issues and an examination of a different structure of the authority, with the idea floating about that Erie County could absorb that authority.

The second amendment to the resolution failed by a 6-5 vote.

Over an hour into the debate, the initial resolution was voted on. Legislators Joe Lorigo, Tom Loughran, John Mills, Ed Rath, Lynn Dixon, and Kevin Hardwick all voted for Schad to resign. 

"I think it worked out in the rate-payers favor," Lorigo said while adding that the vote did not work out in favor of the minority caucus. "In the 6 1/2 years I've been a member of this body I've never seen my democratic colleagues fight quite as hard on any issue other than making sure Commissioner Schad remain in his place. It's a disservice to the rate-payers and Erie County as a whole."

Lorigo and Loughran introduced a new resolution which will allow the legislature to remove the BMHA commissioner. That resolution will be voted on at the next session unless Schad resigns before then. Schad previously told reporters he has no intention to resign. 

Legislator Patrick Burke, a democrat, said that the resolution's results were expected.

"These guys will raise their hands in the air as if they accomplished something," Burke said. "They'll obfuscate the truth and we'll move forward as adults, the few of us who were speaking on actual issues, and try to get something done."

Burke accused Loughran of leaving the majority caucus after he was not nominated to a leadership position. 

"We literally did a timeline in the resolution of the things that actually happened and identified the bad actors on both sides," Burke added. "We acknowledged the report and anyone who is a bad actor should be out of there. But we should examine it thoroughly because it's in the best interest of the rate payers of our community."

Burke said he demands Schad be at the committee meeting next Thursday. 

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