West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Another politically-connected person has landed on the payroll at the Erie County Water Authority.
One of the latest hires at the Erie County Water Authority is named Timothy Meegan, who is son of West Seneca Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan.
Her son started work Monday, April 1 at the authority as a water utility worker. It's considered a "non-competitive," non-civil service position, meaning the authority could hire whomever it wanted. His annual salary is $41,500. Meegan also told us her son previously worked for the County Clerk's office for 5 years in a civil service position, and that he had applied to the water authority before she became supervisor.
The Water Authority has long had a reputation for hiring people based on who they know, and some might find the timing of Meegan's hiring a bit ironic. A week ago, when the authority announced it was shaking things up by getting rid of its long-time executive director, one of its commissioners, Earl Jann, promised that the authority in the future would be running things more like a professional business.
"I cannot emphasize enough that we are a public utility and we are going to run this place properly and with correct management," Jann told 2 On Your Side March 26. "I can't speak to the far past, I really don't know but I'm telling you the way it will be."
In the past, hiring recommendations at the water authority have sometimes come from the chairmen of the County's Democratic and Republican parties. Meegan, who declined an on-camera interview, told us she never asked anyone to hire her son. She did, however, say that Jeremy Zellner, the County's Democratic Party Chairman, called her a couple of weeks ago and said "I saw your son has his application in."
We left a message for Zellner, but have not heard back from him yet. No one from the water authority would speak to us on camera about Meegan's hiring. Spokesperson Matt Baudo told us by phone: "We have a process, and we followed it."
Meegan's son joins a long-list of politically-connected people there. The authority recently hired Timothy Gallagher, who is the son of former State Senator Ray Gallagher. Last summer, it hired the brother of the county executive, as well as the future sister-in-law of the county's Republican Party Chairman.
The office of County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is now auditing the authority.
When asked if anything has changed, Mychajliw responded, "No. Certainly not. That's one of the reasons why we're in the middle of an audit of the water authority. . . It's not fair and it's not right that people with just political connections are given these positions. It should be an open and fair process so at least everyone can apply and everyone has a fair shot at them."