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The ECWA and Patronage

31 Aug

County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s brother, Robb, got a job with the Erie County Water Authority. Robb is a trained chef – I actually ate his food once when he worked at Epcot a few years ago. At the Norwegian restaurant, where my girls got to meet various and sundry Disney Princesses. 

Is Robb qualified to help run the ECWA? Well, compared to whom? He hasn’t yet passed a civil service exam for the position. It’s pretty obvious that Robb’s hiring has a great deal to do with his last name, and that’s not how a meritocracy works. 

But the ECWA is no meritocracy. 

If we’re going to have civic outrage over a countywide department hiring the County Executive’s brother – and the ECWA has a long, well-documented history of being a pit of patronage; a place where elected officials can find cush jobs as a “thank you” for loyal supporters, then isn’t it time to demand legislation to change it? 

It’s run by Lackawanna Democratic Chair, property  manager, and jeweler Fran Warthling. Pigeon loyalist Jack O’Donnell is Treasurer. The Vice Chair was Marilla supervisor. The executive director, at least, has an engineering background, and has had a series of patronage jobs, including the Lackawanna housing authority. The deputy director has a background in finance and was the Administrator of the Village of Bergen. 

If you don’t want these positions to be filed through political favoritism, then demand that changes be implemented. But ask yourself this: does the ECWA’s existence as a patronage destination harm your water cost or delivery in any palpable way? If so, how? Or is this just being angry that people are getting jobs because of whom they know? Because lots of people – private and public sector alike – get jobs that way.