WILKES-BARRE — Though he’s thousands of miles away from the city, J.J. Murphy still can’t get away from it, and it can’t get away from him.
Murphy, 42, who worked as city administrator until 2010, was hired for a similar role in Hobbs, N.M. last year.
He’s set up a website that gives the impression he was the driving force in the city under the section “J.J. Murphy’s Beneficial Impact on Wilkes-Barre, PA.”
“While J.J. Murphy was in charge, there were a few important issues that had to be taken care of,” he wrote and went on to say he led a $57 million audited turnaround, hired 26 new police officers and secured grant money for the city’s camera surveillance system.
A call to Murphy Friday was not returned, but he wrote about the site in a June 7 email.
It’s becoming more common for city managers like him to create sites and include blogs, he said.
“Mine is fairly new so there are some learning curves with the site. The goal is to share some of my history with the readers,” he added.
Under the “About Me” section, he described himself and his accomplishments: “John Joseph Murphy is a commendable man. Few people compare to his extensive and praiseworthy experience in management, facilitation, leadership, and military proficiency. Not many can say that they are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of an entire city, either; J.J. Murphy has accomplished this task with enviable expertise in two different locations.”
In his email Murphy said Hobbs and Wilkes-Barre have some similarities in size and population.
When he began the $140,000 a year job there were approximately 60 police officers, he said.
“Today, I am proud to say we now have 88 officers and a goal to have 90 before my first year is complete. I have also added approximately 10 firefighters and am committed to increasing public safety,” he said.
‘An online resume’
He’s shown himself in the best light, said Frank Sorick, leaving the critic of Murphy and the city’s administration to wonder if he was looking for work.
“It seems to me like an online resume,” Sorick said.
The prospective job seeker is going to promote oneself to the best of their ability, he said, while acknowledging Murphy goes “a little overboard” in his claims.
There’s no mention of Murphy’s role as a consultant in the failed attempt to lease the city’s parking assets last year or the nearly $35,000 in fees he received.
Neither is there any mention that Hawkeye Security Solutions, the nonprofit corporation set up to operate the camera surveillance system, is facing funding issues.
And readers won’t know Murphy had the city pay for a security system installed in his house and re-installed when he moved into a different house.
His family had stayed here until May and moved to Hobbs, he said. Murphy is a major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, he and his wife are graduates of King’s College and he still keeps tabs on Wilkes-Barre, where they have many friends in the area, he said.
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity Wilkes-Barre afforded me and wish the city well,” he said.