Who can forget J.J. Murphy, the former Wilkes-Barre City administrator and $300-per-hour consultant to the city’s parking authority?
Well, he’s presently suing a township near Philadelphia that didn’t hire him. Watch out, Luzerne County, you didn’t hire him either for your first county manager. You may be next. Murphy once told me that he believed he didn’t get that job because of all of the controversy over the taxpayer-funded security alarm system installed in his home. Oh, that little thing. Taxpayers weren’t supposed to find out that Murphy and his chum, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, billed them for their own home security systems. All we can say is, it’s a good thing that the county council was alarmed when considering, and ultimately rejecting, Murphy’s application.
Currently, Murphy is alleging that when he applied for a position in Radnor Township, the board of commissioners broke the law by discriminating against him because of his military obligations. He’s a major in the Air Force Reserves. He filed his lawsuit, he stated, “based on principle,” according to a Times Leader article. And, okay, he conceded that he was also embarrassed when he did not get the job, according to court papers. The Times Leader reports that Murphy claims that the township commissioners humiliated him and caused him emotional distress.
He suffered, according to court papers, “loss of employment, loss of compensation, loss of employment benefits, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and other compensatory and consequential damages” — in other words, all the things any unsuccessful job candidate might suffer.
Now Radnor Township may have to pay. Murphy filed his suit in 2011. According to the Citizen’s Voice, the case will go to court in February 2014.
Murphy is something else. Of course, it’s his right to apply for another job while working for Wilkes-Barre City. But last we heard, he accepted a job as city manager in Hobbs, New Mexico. And now he’s suing over a position he didn’t get in Radnor Township? Maybe he’s homesick and wants to move back to Pennsylvania.
Or maybe he’s still steaming that his cash cow at the city parking authority was put out to pasture. Where but in Wilkes-Barre can you submit a bill for $13,950 for 27 days of part-time work and actually have somebody pay it?
Don’t let that baby-faced picture that always shows up in an article about Murphy fool you. I had a meeting with him — at his request. I guessed it was because he wanted me to back off the criticism over his home security system.
That, frankly, was nothing compared to the outrageous bills he and his brother’s Philly law practice were submitting in their quest to turn over the city’s parking assets to a private firm. It was a good deal while it lasted. He actually billed the parking authority his $300-per-hour consultant’s fee for reading emails from newspaper reporters. But, alas, all good things must come to an end.
So now the folks in Radnor Township are getting a taste of what makes Murphy tick — money. And principle, he says. “I’m standing up for my rights.” And, of course, he has every right to do so.
If he wins in court, though, could a precedent be set? In the future could a candidate passed over for an open slot sue because the hiring committee maybe didn’t like his mohawk haircut or his tattoo or the fact that he was white? Could a candidate argue that he was the best person for the job, but that some hiring honcho had the nerve to disagree?
Radnor Township officials will argue that there were more qualified applicants, and that Murphy’s military obligations did not come into play to affect their decision. While we must respect those who serve their country, don’t township officials have a right to be concerned that the person they hire may be absent for weeks or even months at a time? Apparently, that’s now for the court to decide.
As reported in the Times Leader, Murphy is seeking back pay and damages. How does one get back pay from a job he never worked?
And what about poor Hobbs? What are the people there thinking after hearing that Murphy wants the job — that he believes is rightfully his — in Radnor Township?
And you watch out, Robert Lawton. Mr. Murphy may be coming after you next for obtaining the county manager mantle he coveted.