Shared from the 10/9/2016 Hobbs News Sun eEdition

Our view

Hobbs commission to blame for big contract

THE ISSUE: The Hobbs City Commission failed to agree on a severance contract for City Manager J.J. Murphy.

WE SAY: The commission should be more responsible with taxpayer dollars.

Say what you want about Hobbs City Manager J.J. Murphy — love him or hate him — but he’s taken the City of Hobbs on a heck of a ride. Murphy has made headlines since first joining the community. First for his lucrative contract, then for renegotiating that contract into even more grandiose proportions. Then for his continually making headlines as he applied for other jobs across the country and as he became the target of a segment of Hobbs’ population that felt he hasn’t earned the golden egg he’s been given or that he’s circumvented state law in his directing of city affairs. Mr. Murphy has his detractors, but he also has his fans. There are those in the community who love him, even among the seven elected city leaders. He’s been recognized for his leadership and continually lauded for his willingness to fight for the people who work under him. He’s received statewide awards and been at the forefront of many city projects, like Rockwind Community Links and the Center of Recreational Excellence. Love him or hate him, the problem in Hobbs’ city government isn’t Murphy — it’s those seven elected officials, many of whom were on the board when Murphy was hired and all of whom were there Monday night when they couldn’t agree on letting Murphy go in a move that will cost the city nearly $106,000 more than if they’d have agreed. The vote failed 4-3. Bravo to Murphy for landing himself such a contract. He’s not to blame for trying to do the best by himself. Our city leaders went along and gave Murphy a contract that makes him the third highest paid city manager in the state and possibly the highest, if you figure in the $50,000 housing incentive and paid-time-off package. Monday there were those city leaders who wanted Murphy to depart, but wouldn’t give him a modified severance package because they thought it was too lucrative at $200,000. More lucrative than the $306,000 package those same commissioners agreed to nearly five years ago and that Murphy will now get if an agreement isn’t struck? Then there were those who wanted him to stay and wouldn’t vote to let him go. Murphy’s leaving. He’s made that clear with his continued efforts to land a job in other states. So how is throwing away $106,000 of the city’s money going to change that? A precious few on the commission voted for the contract, some even though they wanted Murphy to stay. They should be applauded for that. But if Murphy leaves on June 30, 2017 with the $306,000 severance package in play then those same commissioners are still responsible for throwing away taxpayer money because they were there when Murphy’s contract was first inked. Hobbs residents have a right to be angry, but if they are directing their anger at Murphy then they’re sending it the wrong direction. Mr. Murphy isn’t the problem. The problem lies with those leaders who put Hobbs in this predicament. Hold them accountable and let them know Hobbs expects better care when doling out city funds. Let’s not land in this same situation again five years from now.

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