Back in June I pondered the following about Richard Murray:
With word yesterday that Strickland’s head of the Ohio School Facilities Commission is pushing unions to exclusively score contracts, one has to wonder when all of these dirty tactics will catch up with them. It has to only be a matter of time, right?
Not a week went by when we discovered Murray was being investigated by the Ohio Inspector General.
And today his findings were released.
Without question, Ted Strickland must fire Richard Murray.
After a quick scan of the report, here are a few lowlights:
Our investigation found that the administration removed its previous OSFC director and appointed Murray in September 2009, in part, to improve relations with unions and ensure that unions were regarded as constituents or stakeholders at the OSFC. Murray had been a longtime union leader when he was appointed OSFC director. Rather than put unions on equal footing, we found that Murray provided them with undue access and accommodations. In ways large and small, Murray repeatedly failed in his responsibility to remain neutral on union matters.
He never similarly reached out to non-union organizations. Encouraging union workers, regardless of whether they worked on a job site, to snoop on non-union contractors was an abuse of Murrays authority on several levels. Not only was Murray inappropriately making plain his preference for union construction, he literally mobilized union labor against non-union contractors. These two factions compete for OSFC work and sometimes work side-by-side on projects. Promoting discord and taking sides demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment on Murrays part.
As director, Murray has repeatedly allowed his union ties to undermine the credibility of his position and that of the OSFC. Murray was instructed upon his appointment to treat unions as constituents or stakeholders. Instead, Murray conferred upon unions a favored status, at the expense of non-union competitors, local school districts, and the OSFCs own guidelines. In 2007, for the first time, the OSFC introduced prevailing wage and PLA provisions as options for OSFC-funded projects, but left the decision up to local school districts. Murray, who oversees $2.8 million a day in construction spending, abused his authority by repeatedly acting as a go-between for union representatives and participating in PLA arm-twisting sessions with local school districts.
Will Strickland fire Richard Murray?
Well, I’ve got 178,520 reasons why he won’t.
$178,520. That’s how much Governor Strickland received from unions just in the past reporting period. That doesn’t even include the eight other campaign finance reports he has submitted since becoming Governor.
Of course, if political pressure gets to a boiling point, anything is possible.
But let there be no doubt, Strickland knew what he was getting into when he fired the well-respected Michael Shoemaker back in 2009 and replaced him with Murray:
Back in August of 2009, Dennis Willard explained why the firing happened:
Sources told the Beacon Journal that Shoemaker angered unions and construction companies that hire union workers because the executive director would not bend the rules to ensure prevailing-wage clauses were part of every awarded contract. Minutes from commission meetings support this assertion.
Sounds familiar, eh?
The unions and the construction companies that employ them contribute large sums of money to candidates, and there has been considerable speculation that Strickland canned Shoemaker to appease big-money men.
The governor and Haseley might not appreciate this connection, but they must expect that the void created by silence will be filled with innuendo and rumor.
And now we no longer have innuendo and rumor. We have hard evidence provided by the Inspector General and the school districts effected by Strickland’s overwhelming desire to “appease big-money men”.
This is politics at its worst.