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 suing a township near Philadelphia which didn’t hire him. Watch out, Luzerne County. You didn’t hire him either for your first county manager. You may be next. J.J. once told me he believed he didn’t get that job because of all 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 J.J. and his chum, city Mayor Tom Leighton, billed them for their home security systems. All we can say is it’s a good thing the county council was alarmed when considering and ultimately rejecting Murphy’s application.
J.J. is alleging that when he applied for a job 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 said, ”based on principal,” according to a Times Leader article. And, okay, he was also embarrassed when he did not get the job, court papers say. The township commissioners humiliated him and caused him emotional distress, the TL reported.
He suffered, say 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 must pay. Murphy filed his suit in 2011. The case will go to court in February, The Citizens’ Voice reported.
J.J. 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 took a job in Hobbs, New Mexico. And now he’s suing over a job 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?
And don’t let that baby face picture which always shows up in a J.J. story fool you. He can be pretty conniving. Let’s just say I had a little 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 firm 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 fee for reading e-mails 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 J.J. tick – money. And principle, he says. “I’m standing up for my rights,” he said. And, of course, he has every right to do so.
If he wins in court, though, could a precedent be set? Can some candidate passed over for a job sue because the hiring committee maybe didn’t like his Mohawk haircut or the fact that he was white? Could someone argue that he was the best person for the job but some hiring honcho had the nerve to disagree?
Radnor Township officials will argue that there were more qualified applicants, and that J.J.’s military obligations did not come into play. While we must respect those who serve their country, don’t township officials have a right to be concerned that an applicant may be away from the job for weeks or maybe months at a time? That’s for the court to decide.
If the TL got this right, J.J. 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 J.J. wants the job, he believes is rightfully his, in Radnor Twp.?
And, you watch out, Robert Lawton. Mr. Murphy may be coming after you next for getting the county job he coveted.
- Betty Roccograndi