Wednesday, April 30, 2003

City Hall

How much is Sy Murray worth?


What exactly did former City Manager Sy Murray do for the $1,440 a day he billed for his work as director of Mayor Charlie Luken's race-relations commission in 2001?

That's a key question in a lawsuit filed March 5 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. Murray and his firm, Joshua Kim Associates, claim they're owed $44,362 for work he performed in August 2001. And Murray wants an additional, unspecified amount for "anxiety, emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and inconvenience."

The city and the Knowledge Works Foundation, which agreed to pick up $100,000 of the cost, are countersuing, saying Murray was already paid more than he was owed. They said Murray's work was not "up to standard," and accused him of billing "for work that was not done and expenses that were not incurred."

At nine pages, Murray's lawsuit is twice as long as his final 4 1/2-page report on race relations.

He would not comment on the lawsuit.

Murray's report had three recommendations:

• Police officers should use clear judgment before firing their weapons.

• The race-relations commission should be more open to the public.

• The city's religious and civic organizations should "redouble their actions geared toward promoting understanding and communication between the races of people living in the city."


Campaign trail: The first debate of the 2003 City Council campaign broke out last week over (of all things) a liquor license renewal for the Next Level club in Over-the-Rhine.

Republican Pat DeWine pointed to 509 calls for service at the club, and connected it to the city's skyrocketing homicide rate.

Then John Cranley, a Democrat, accused him of "using the homicide rate for political purposes."

"It's an election year. It's easy to jump on wedge and divisive issues with false and inflammatory rhetoric about the number of homicides," Cranley said.

Look for such debates to continue over the next six months, as Republicans try to paint themselves as the tough-on-crime party.


Award season: When John Shirey was city manager, he started a program to reward city employees for finding innovative ways to save taxpayer money and improve service. And they didn't just get a plaque, but cash awards provided by the Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation.

City Manager Valerie Lemmie has chosen to discontinue the program. Without nominations from City Hall, the American Society for Public Administration decided to give its highest award to ... Shirey himself.

Shirey, who flew in from his job with the California Redevelopment Association in Sacramento to accept the award Friday, was honored for his "tireless advocating for professional and ethical government," said Robert Schrage, president of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the ASPA.


Award season, Part II: Councilman David Crowley, 66, will be inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame May 13.

The Ohio Department of Aging says he's a role model for older adults, but the young-at-heart Crowley would like to think it has more to do with his efforts on aging issues than his old age.

Thirty years ago, at age 36, Crowley was the first executive director of what was then the Governor's Commission on Aging. And to add a wrinkle (or two) to his acceptance speech, he wants to honor two other old-timers at his induction: former Gov. Jack Gilligan, 82, who appointed the commission, and former Ohio House Majority Leader Bill Mallory, 71, who sponsored the legislation to create the commission.


Award season, Part III: Councilman David Pepper has been named the "New Democrat of the Week" by the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic group most closely associated with President Bill Clinton's economic policies. It's a national award usually given to congressmen.

City Hall reporter Gregory Korte can be reached at or 768-8391.

Erratic budgets let schools deteriorate
School built in 1876 near the end of its life
Tiny gym leaves team always the visitors
Old electrical systems stretched to capacity
Cramped quarters, crowded buildings
Wanted: a little grass, more room to play
Parents worry about lead paint in schools
History of inconsistency

Police want out of race accord
Agreement's yield: Contention
Settlements at a glance
Indian Hill to pool its power buys and save $
Drop gun suit, city advised
Morgue photos letter revealed
Football Classic lacking stadium
Bank One releases condo liens
Obituary: Austin M. Wright, 80, writer, teacher
Tristate A.M. Report

SMITH AMOS: A second chance
KORTE: City Hall
HOWARD: Some Good News

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Time ripe for ammonia theft
Going Bananas
Levy would maintain buildings
Fernald to hold last tour for public
County seeks to preserve rare bridge

Ohio executes inmate 18 years after slaying
Ohio Moments

Gays win expanded rights coverage
Eatery reopens after slaying
Bob Woodward, 2 politicos to lecture at NKU this fall
Candidates endorse choice of care type covered by Medicaid
Slain Chicago police officer remembered
Police: Ex-boyfriend shot to death high school senior, self
Moonlite Bar matriarch dead at 83
Kentucky obituaries
Nunn wants to 'move on'
Police: 3 men shot to death, dumped in Kentucky River