If the Erie County Water Authority wasn't a longtime cesspool of political patronage, maybe we could give the benefit of the doubt to the appointment of Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz's brother to a $55,132-a-year administrative post in the agency.
But given the authority's history - its payroll is flush with politically connected operatives - skepticism ought to abound, especially because Robb M. Poloncarz has yet to take a civil service exam and the position was never advertised.
Robb Poloncarz's previous work history as a chef at Wegmans Food Markets also doesn't seem to jibe with the responsibilities of the Water Authority's contract monitor position, which include analyzing water market conditions and water industry regulations and making sure the authority complies with regulations and contract provisions, as well as consulting with department heads on acquiring property and assigning contracts.
It sounds like a job that requires a decent level of familiarity with how the water industry works on several levels.
Mark Poloncarz's spokesman maintained this week that the county executive doesn't oversee the Water Authority and therefore had nothing to do with the hiring. And the authority's personnel director said Robb Poloncarz's application was the only one on file at the Water Authority that met the minimum requirements for the job opening.
All of that may be true, but what prevented the agency from advertising the post in an effort to find the most qualified candidates, as is standard practice for most employers? Skipping this key step suggests Water Authority officials had no intention of offering the plum post to anyone other than the county executive's brother, in a form of second-hand nepotism.
Water Authority Personnel Director Matthew J. Baudo said the civil service position wasn't advertised because candidates must be chosen through the state-required exam process. But, he added, the agency can make a temporary appointment until the civil service exam.
Baudo's explanation only makes it more apparent that the Water Authority was trying to sneak Robb Poloncarz into a job - even if it was only for a few weeks before the civil service exam could be scheduled.
The agency easily could have filled this post the right way, which would have meant getting the state to set the exam date, posting the job opening and the date of the exam, and then choosing a qualified candidate from among the top three exam scores.
If Robb Poloncarz got the job that way, nobody would be complaining. Instead, both the county executive and the Water Authority must now do some more explaining.