EDITORIAL: Mayor Murphy was not laughing with us
Ever had that neighbor, classmate or relative who always thought they were just a little bit better than everyone else? Remember those folks who seem one way when they’re with you, but then you catch them making fun of you or trashing you behind your back?
Liberty Hill took another hit in the Austin media last week when Mayor Michele “Mike” Murphy was featured in the Austin American-Statesman’s Kelso column. Austin likes to laugh at the smaller communities that surround them. It makes them feel almost like a real city. Say almost Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. Just a few more million people and just maybe someday they’ll make it. Meanwhile, Austin has another round of chuckles at the expense of Liberty Hill.
The Mayor allowed herself to be photographed outside City Hall with a gavel in one hand and her guitar in the other. What was missing was the visual of a goat tied to a cinder block with a hay rope outside a falling down mobile home and some folks fighting to get on the Jerry Springer Show and the ambiance would have been clearly stated.
Most of us enjoy the Kelso column in which he generally shoots at the high and mighty and makes fun of those who need to be brought down a few notches. But in this particular offering, the writer stood back, got out of the way and let the Mayor serve up her own assessment of Liberty Hill.
To be kind, one would say that she led with her left foot and kept on leading with it until the very end of the article when she finally claimed things were getting better. In a thinly disguised political piece, the Mayor pointed out that when she first arrived in Liberty Hill, folks were burning trash in their front yards. She then stated what has been known for years and “came out” publicly as a lesbian thus implying and labeling Liberty Hill as a community that had not voted her into the office of mayor with full knowledge of facts and rumors.
She revisited a claimed conversation with the late Troy Joseph who used to volunteer his time at the City’s Information Center downtown. The columnist said he could not repeat the alleged verbal insult from Mr. Joseph because it would be offensive. Truthfully, the quote could not be verified because Mr. Joseph passed away last year. Shame, Shame, Shame.
The Mayor publicly aired other dirty laundry when she confirmed that she, the weekly Leader, and its publishers had been sued because of a column she had written about the Canady family. She admitted it was a “mistake” and said it was because she and the Canadys didn’t get along.
Mayor Murphy didn’t stop there. She had more to say. She said the local youth soccer association President yelled at her when the City billed the club for water usage at City Park.
In fact, the Mayor said she gets yelled at a lot by her general public. But she said she is able to survive all this persecution because she once sang in an all-male country music band and waited tables. So if you can survive sexual harassment and the tawdry environment of a hillbilly juke joint—you can also put up with the voters and taxpayers in Liberty Hill.
Perhaps the shrillest, silliest of all the statements came when the Mayor said she often tells citizens that the reason Liberty Hill has to pay several million dollars to acquire a wastewater treatment plant is because “your grandma didn’t do it.”
Grandmothers are those of three generations ago. Liberty Hill was not even a city. We don’t recall women of three generations ago being in the driver’s seat for making local political decisions.
One has to ask what purpose was served by these statements to the press down in Austin?
Will there be some major multi-national corporation lured to this community to help create a stable tax base? Will some major employer want to hire people who burn their trash in their front yards or yell at the mayor? In fact, will businesses with capital want to invest in a community where the mayor and one of the newspapers have been sued for libel and slander? Will Austin families who are tired of the crime, overcrowding and high taxes want to move here now? Will the parents with kids who love to play soccer want to buy a home from one of our real estate brokers if the mayor is fussing over who is going to pay to water the grass seed at City Park? No, they’ll move to Leander.
The Mayor said the column was intended to be funny. She doesn’t view it as a negative reflection of Liberty Hill.
We disagree. We didn’t laugh.
The Mayor’s statements did not improve this community’s chance to grow and develop. In fact, the attempt to be clever hurt Liberty Hill. Everyone knows that Mike Murphy is a smart lady who says she wants to do good things. But, it seems she wants Austin to see her as some kind of persecuted missionary to the barbarians of the Shin Oak Ridge.
Clearly Mayor Murphy wants to be a star in Austin, but the gig is here in Liberty Hill. The future is crying out for direction and leadership. Poking fun at us won’t fix the infrastructure, tax base and the need for jobs and sustained growth.