Murphy flexes Mayoral Muscle
Rookie Mayor Patrick Murphy left no doubt who’s in charge when he made City Council subcommittee assignments this week, one of the first official acts of business for a new mayor.
Murphy rewarded those who supported him and whacked those who didn’t.
The most stunning assignment was of freshmen Councilor Vesna Nuon to head up the Public Safety Subcommittee.
Nuon is fresh off the suing the city for what he claimed was a bogus disorderly conduct arrest by one of the PD’s most lily-white cops, Brian Kinney.
Nuon was awarded 50gs in an out-of-court settlement, but claims his lawyers are getting every penny.
Murphy awarding Nuon with the public safety appointment, to use a cliche, is like pouring salt on an open wound.
But then again, the two fed off one another during the recent City Council campaign and Nuon supported Murphy in the recent mayoral battle rather than veteran councilor Rodney Elliott, so it’s not surprising.
Then there’s Elliott, the self-proclaimed “fiscal watchdog.” Murphy stripped him of his coveted chairmanship of the finance panel, although he is still a member.
Ironically, Murphy appointed Joe Mendonca, somewhat of a finance aficionado himself, but who voted for Elliott for mayor.
Murphy’s handling of Elliott is hardly a surprise. Just consider what Elliott told Sun Senior Writer Jennifer Myers in late December when former mayor Bill Martin finally confirmed what everyone knew — that he would support Murphy over Elliott for mayor and end the contest:
“It’s no surprise to me,” Eliott said. “I ask the questions my constituents want asked, as evidenced by my second-place finish. I know the issues I raise make some of my colleagues uncomfortable, but I am not willing to compromise my positions on taxes and open and transparent government to become mayor.”
So, in other words, Murphy compromised his positions for the ceremonial seat. Maybe he did, but in politics payback is a …
When asked by Elliott at Tuesday’s meeting why he selected Mendonca, a second term councilor, as finance chair, Murphy said he was choosing someone with the most “expertise and experience.”
But Elliott, who is in his 8th term, said Wednesday Murphy’s decision to end his 12-year run as finance chair was “personal” and likely made at City Manager Bernie Lynch’s request.
“Not true on all counts,” Lynch said.
Murphy’s response follows this blog post.
Elliott also was surprised by Murphy’s decision to name Nuon, a new councilor, as the chair of the public safety subcommittee. Elliott has served on that committee for many years and will still be on the committee, but was passed over as chair.
So which subcommittee chairs did Elliott receive? Drum-roll please… Flood issues and Youth Services.
Both Elliott and Councilor Ed Kennedy highlighted Tuesday night that Murphy did not contact them prior to making his selections.
Murphy said he was in touch with seven councilors, but the numbers don’t add up unless he is referring to also speaking to himself.
Kennedy said he would have liked to have chaired the economic development subcommittee, but said he knew when he voted for Elliott over Murphy for mayor he would not get a plum assignment.Kennedy will chair the Municipal Facilities and Rules Subcommittees.
Subcommittees play a vital role in city government. It’s where high-profile issues are usually vetted before they reach the council floor. It’s also where opponents and proponents of a particular issue get to spar a little more openly than during a debate in front of the full City Council.
For the chairman of the highest-profile subcommittees, Economic Development, Public Safety, and Finance, they’re ego-boosters while giving those chairman the forum to exert the desired spin to a particular issue.
If Murphy ever wanted to cultivate an image of a political reformer, he blew it with these assignments. With them, he has shown, he is no different than any other power-drunk city pol who prowled the corridors of City Hall before him.
Yes, indeed, there is a new sheriff in town.Explore posts in the same categories: The Column