From the Morning Memo:

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into the county’s water authority following a scathing report from the state Authorities Budget Office.

The DA, John Flynn, was clear during a press conference that he doesn’t expect much of anything to come of the probe, however. Flynn said that after reading the report he referred it to his special investigations bureau, who, in turn, spoke with both the ABO’s director and deputy director.

The ABO found no criminal violations in its investigation, but a number of infractions that could lead to civilian penalties that are not under the DA’s jurisdiction – including violations of the Freedom of Information Act. Flynn said he just wants to double check to make sure that is indeed the case.

“Whenever I see an entity or an individual who’s a subject of some type of investigation or audit not provide all the documents to the one who’s doing the auditing, that obviously raises a red flag as to, okay, why are you withholding documents? Why are you not being transparent? Are you perhaps trying to hide something?” he said.

The water authority, widely regarded as a political patronage pit, has been criticized for years, but came under the microscope again recently when it negotiated a contract with a lucrative severance package for its executive director, should he be pushed out by new leadership.

The new chairman, Jerome Schad, is specifically sanctioned in the report, leading some county legislators to call for his resignation.

Schad, for his part, said the authority has already instituted numerous reforms to make it more transparent. Flynn said he was not going to go “(former FBI Director) James Comey” and weigh in on whether Schad should stay or go, but sees a benefit to his involvement in this matter, regardless of whether it actually bears fruit.

“That shows the public, hopefully, that there is someone out there who is not trying to hide something, that there is someone out there who is ensuring that these people in the future show some transparency,” he said.

Flynn said he doesn’t expect his bureau chief to spend an enormous amount of time reviewing the report.