After complaining for the past year about the city’s budget deficit, Mayor Jane Murray has asked for an 8 percent pay raise, removed three department heads from office without providing for adequate backup, hired an out-of-state consulting firm without authorization from City Council, and moved the city’s health and liability insurance business from a local agency to a Jackson firm.
Without consulting the Council, she arranged to tap into the city’s capital improvement fund to spend $17,500 to have her own office renovated, including spending up to $10,000 for new furniture.
If Jane Murray had campaigned on cutting jobs, raising her salary and remodeling her office while ignoring the needs of the rest of the city employees who have to work in the same deplorable conditions, the election’s outcome may have been different.
Her dealings with the members of City Council have hardly been harmonious. At her first official Portsmouth City Council meeting Monday night, Murray threatened City Council members with misdemeanor charges, told them they didn’t have the authority to talk with the Ohio EPA, and asked for a raise.
The bright spot at Monday’s Council meeting seems to be that we now have two common-sense Council members — Nick Basham and Kevin Johnson. The ability of John Haas to stay focused on the facts, the steady hand of Portsmouth City Solicitor Mike Jones, and the leadership of President of Council David Malone, who took charge of the meeting and did not allow things to get out of hand, is encouraging.
The situation at the Wastewater Treatment Plant needs to be resolved quickly before the Ohio EPA starts fining the city $10,000 per day.
More importantly, our new mayor needs to show some leadership by withdrawing her request to spend money on her office and instead come up with a plan that addresses the needs of all of the workers in city hall. And she should drop her efforts to get a raise.