“Something has to be done,” suggests Amherst’s county legislator Tom Loughran about the political job patronage haven at the Erie County Water Authority, and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra believes the answer should come from the state.
“When I was county executive, I wanted to bring the Water Authority into county govrnment and take it out of the hands of the political parties,” says Giambra. “Unfortunately, the support wasn’t there from state lawmakers to change the law and now, as we see, that has led to things like a $400,000 golden parachute for an unqualified executive director who may be axed by new political leadership at the county legislature. It is nothing but a safe haven for the political bosses to bestow their thanks for favors, and it comes at a steep price for ratepayers.”
Giambra, who is a candidate for governor, believes state lawmakers need to support changes in the state law governing public authorities when it comes to golden parachute giveaways of taxpayer money, and maybe go even further by allowing the Water Authority to be taken away from the political bosses and become answerable to county government.
“The Water Authority is a great place to work if you have the right political connections, never mind your experience with water,” said Giambra. “What’s important is not what you know about water, but who you know in the political world.”
The Water Authority has more than 230 employees to keep the water running with the top tier all paid well over $100,000.
“Both parties are sharing spoils at the water authority with the system rigged to generate high paying jobs, soft landings, and golden parachutes for the politically favored,” said Giambra. “I’m calling on state senators like Patrick Gallivan and Chris Jacobs to step up to the plate and put an end to the abuse of ratepayers at the hands of the party bosses.”
Giambra said state lawmakers of both parties need to respond to the overwhelming burden on taxpayers in this, the highest taxed state in the nation.
“It’s frustrating to hear that nothing can be done,” says Giambra. “Something can be done if our elected officials will hear the voice of the people and do something to change the system.”