Hardwick taking heat for approving Schad as water authority commissioner

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Republicans in the Erie County Legislature are condemning a flip-flop from a former friend. On Thursday, Legislator Kevin Hardwick, who now caucuses with the Democrats, voted to give Jerome Schad another term as Erie County Water Authority commissioner.

That’s something Hardwick said he wouldn’t do last July.

“We’ll take care of Mr. Schad when his term expires in April,” Hardwick told News 4 after a legislative meeting on July 26th.

On Friday, he confirmed when he said that, he meant he was against appointing Schad for another term. But he said his opinion on Schad has changed since then.

Schad, a Democrat, has been under fire from Republicans since last June, when the New York State Authorities Budget Office released a report on the water authority, which recommended Schad be removed as commissioner. The legislature rebuffed that recommendation.

“You can go through point-by-point in that audit from last year, and you can see that notification of meetings, minutes, everything online, the sorts of things that were criticized in that audit are no longer an issue,” Hardwick said.

The Tonawanda legislator credited Schad for that. The two men met in January, and Hardwick says he decided he could support Schad afterward.

Hardwick was a Republican member of the legislature until December, when he joined the Democratic caucus. Legislator Joe Lorigo, a Conservative who serves as the minority leader, indicated he thinks that has something to do with Hardwick’s change of mind.

“Legislator Hardwick sponsored legislation asking Commissioner Schad to resign,” Lorigo said. “Then he switched parties and got endorsed by Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner. Next thing you know he casts the deciding vote to re-appoint Mr. Schad.

“It seems to me like your typical case of transaction politics.”

Hardwick says when he met Zellner in December to discuss a possible switch to the Democratic side, he informed the chairman that he could not be expected to side the with party in re-appointing Schad, but Zellner later asked him to keep an open mind.

Schad’s new term will begin when his current one expires on April 27th.

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