The Independent Gazette in August followed up on citizen complaints from Bob Kadluboski and Linda Urban regarding a taxpayer funded security system installed in the Wilkes-Barre home of former Wilkes-Barre City Administrator JJ Murphy.
On the morning of August 22, at around 7:30 am, the Gazette arrived at the beautiful Hobbs, New Mexico, City Hall to seek a meeting with JJ Murphy, Hobbs’ current city manager. He arrived just before 8:00 am and seemed taken aback to see Gazette reporters waiting for him at his new workplace, but nevertheless consented to a request for an interview.
“You got a few minutes, Lou. I have to get ready for a TV interview—and no cameras or recording devices,” said Murphy, setting the ground rules for our interview.
I must say that Murphy seemed truly pleased with his new home. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that on the very day the Gazette was visiting Hobbs the city’s sole daily, the News-Sun, featured a front page story on their city manager who was just voted a hefty raise by Hobbs City Council, garnered on the one-year anniversary of his hire. The News-Sun reported that this raise brought Murphy’s salary to upwards of $160,000.
Having lived out West myself while raising my family, I was curious about how Murphy and his family were adjusting to the new lifestyle. “I love it. My family loves it. They are all involved in community activities as am I. I do miss my friends and family, and be sure to let the people of Wilkes-Barre know I said hello.” All indications were that Murphy and his family have transitioned well to their new life in New Mexico.
Hobbs, New Mexico, lies within a region dominated by energy production. The wells were pumping as we navigated the two-lane road into Hobbs. We were greeted with a “WELCOME TO HOBBS” sign, and notices looking to recruit police and firemen. It is a town bustling with new business and jobs, and Murphy, evidently, is in charge.
As the interview was winding down I told him I would be remiss if I did not bring up the infamous security system. “Nothing infamous about it,” said Murphy, asserting that he has always been forthcoming with the media, and that there is nothing to hide.
The system: installed by Torbik Safe & Lock for $6,500
As far as Murphy’s Wilkes-Barre home security system is concerned, previous news reports have quoted Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis stating she, herself, saw components of the system, and that her office has confirmed that the system was, in fact, returned. Urban and Kadluboski remain dubious. Urban remarked, “How do we know those components aren’t simply the returned Hawkeye components and not at all the system installed by Torbik?”
Asked whether or not his home security system alone—and not components of the Hawkeye System—were actually returned, Murphy insisted, “I’m still paying the monthly monitoring fee out of my personal funds.”
Numerous calls to Stefanie Salavantis by the Gazette to determine what was returned, when the return took place, and whether all the Torbik-installed components were included have not been answered. This story cannot be put to rest until the DA’s office once and for all responds to these queries. The resolution should be an easy one, and all involved deserve an answer. To leave this a mystery is simply not right. Come on, Stephanie, let’s put this one to rest!
As the interview was concluding, Murphy invited, “You want a picture?” “Sure,” I replied and went outside to grab my camera. “How about one behind your desk.” “Sure,” Murphy said. “And you want one of the new golf course?” I prompted. He seemed proud of what he was accomplishing as he was readied for that TV interview.