Golf course supervisor is fired Government gadfly Murphy says he was let go in personal, political move

April 12, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

George W. Murphy's career as Baltimore County government's unauthorized internal critic is over.

The former candidate and gadfly, whose need to speak out once cost him $5,000 he had won for battling a county gag order, has been fired from his job at Diamond Ridge Golf Course in Woodlawn.

"I was flabbergasted," the 46-year-old father of three teen-agers said, adding that golf course maintenance supervisors' jobs aren't plentiful.

Robert R. Staab, director of golf for the county's Revenue Authority, which operates the course, said that Mr. Murphy had been suspended for 30 days for driving without a valid license. He said the firing was for a later incident, which he would not FTC discuss, citing possible legal action.

Mr. Murphy's lawyer, Jeffrey P. Nesson, said his client was suspended and fired for allegedly driving a county vehicle while his license was suspended. Mr. Murphy, who was fired March 26 after 16 years with the golf course, said the vehicle in question wasn't working the day he was accused of using it, and he denied that another incident occurred.

Mr. Murphy, who parlayed the fight over the 1988 gag order into a second career as a critic of county politicians and environmental policies, said he was fired to settle old scores.

"I sincerely believe [the firing] was personal and political," he said. "Everybody said I was doing a great job."

Mr. Staab was the county's recreation and parks director when the controversy over the gag order erupted.

Mr. Murphy complained publicly and to the Army Corps of Engineers that the county was digging a trench without a permit next to a north county trout stream.

He was ordered not to talk to reporters about government affairs without permission from his bosses. He sued the county to challenge that policy. The Rasmussen administration reversed the order before a court ruling was issued, but Mr. Murphy went to court to try to recoup his legal expenses.

The county agreed to pay him $5,000 to end the litigation, but stopped payment on the check after he revealed the amount to a Sun reporter, violating a confidentiality clause in the agreement.

Mr. Murphy was a frequent critic of county environmental policies, especially of plans in the late 1980s to create an urban area in the rural western county near Diamond Ridge.

Mr. Murphy ran unsuccessfully for County Council in 1986 and 1990.

"George had no problems when Bob Staab wasn't part of his life," Mr. Nesson said, adding that the firing "certainly seems more than coincidental."

Mr. Staab called those charges "absurd."

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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