Mayor describes column as humorous, positive publicity for Liberty Hill
Liberty Hill Mayor Michele “Mike” Murphy, who was featured in an Austin American-Statesman humor column last weekend, said Tuesday that she wanted to clarify for Liberty Hill readers that some “negative” things included in the column were not her idea.
The column, “Liberty Hill mayor ruffling some small-town feathers” written by Statesman columnist John Kelso, was also posted on the newspaper’s website and featured a portion of the interview on video.
Mayor Murphy said she agreed to the interview because the column was to be a humorous account of her experience as a small-town mayor.
The day after the interview, she said the columnist called to inquire about things he had found while doing background research on her, including public statements she made last year about Liberty Hill’s Troy Joseph, which led family members to file a formal complaint against her with the City of Liberty Hill.
Kelso also inquired about a lawsuit filed against the Mayor and The Leader newspaper for slander and libel.
“We had an interview on Wednesday, and it was all very positive,” she told The Independent this week. “I think it was positive for Liberty Hill. That’s the only way I would agree to do the interview.”
She said that although she was not happy with parts of the article, she does not believe it cast a negative light on the community.
“I don’t think it (the column) made fun of the town. It didn’t cast a negative light on Liberty Hill,” she said.
The Mayor, who eventually apologized to Joseph for the defamatory comments she posted about him on her Facebook page, said she wanted readers of The Independent to know that she did not bring up the topic of her conflict with Joseph for publication again in the Austin newspaper. After the incident first occurred, the Statesman published a story about it.
“This whole thing was a humor column. It stunned me when he (Kelso) went negative and went into the lawsuit,” she said.
Ms. Murphy, who spent much of her career as a musician and entertainer, and later started the Natural Ear Music School, was elected Mayor in 2010.
In the column, which can be found at www.statesman.com, Mayor Murphy said playing in a band and working as a waitress in a honky-tonk was “good training” for being a mayor, adding that she gets “yelled at a lot.”
“They (Liberty Hill residents) feel like if they yell at you, you’re going to back down because that’s the way it’s always been out here,” she told the Statesman.
Some of the comments made by the Mayor in the article were criticized by one local resident during the public comments portion of Monday’s City Council meeting.
Others have posted negative comments about the Mayor’s remarks on The Independent’s Facebook page.
Throughout her term in office, Mayor Murphy has been outspoken and direct in expressing her views, which have at times caused some friction between her and members of the City Council and others in the community.