City Manager Search: Reported Finalist With Past Dogged By Controversy Is Identified

The reported identity of a city manager job finalist has been received by Geneva Believer from sources with knowledge of the city manager search, and the alleged candidate boasts a list of concerning questions related his past public service employment.

Former Oneonta city manager Martin Murphy is reportedly one of the three finalists (along with interim city manager Sage Gerling and as-yet-unnamed male) for the city manager job. Murphy has been followed by controversy in at least two of his previous jobs.

Martin Murphy, via
  • Murphy has held four jobs in four cities in the last nine years, an average of two years and three months per job.
  • A report found “dozens of irregularities” related to file-keeping and financial compliance within the housing program that Murphy oversaw in Ogdensburg, NY.
  • Murphy resigned under a cloud of allegations related to poor management and mistreatment of Oneonta, NY city employees, agreeing to a settlement with the city. Murphy’s attorney later sent a letter to the city of Oneonta asking for more money in addition to the settlement.

Why Is Geneva Believer Releasing This Information?

Geneva Mayor Ron Alcock and several councilors have stated that releasing candidates’ names would violate their privacy as some of them may not want their current employers knowing that they are searching for other jobs.

However, neither Murphy nor the other as-yet-unnamed alleged male candidate in the running for the Geneva city manager job is currently employed.

The right of the public to know the names of candidates is more important than protecting the privacy of the candidates.

Furthermore, there are many cities, including Dallas TX, Austin TX, Grand Rapids MI and Cortez CO, that provide the names of city manager job candidates to the public, and some that even conduct forums for residents to meet the candidates.

Although the public has a right to know, Geneva city council has intentionally created a search process that fails to meet even basic levels of transparency.

Who Is Martin Murphy?

Murphy’s resume (dated May 2018) is available online. You can also see the resume here.

While Murphy’s resume seems to show solid credentials and experience in his field, the red flags that aren’t listed on his resume are significant and striking.

Here is a summary of Murphy’s professional career:

(1993-2007) OGDENSBURG, NY

Murphy was Director of Planning & Development in the city of Ogdensburg, NY from 1993 until 2007.

In 2010, a report titled “Housing Needs Assessment, Affordable Housing Plan and Program Income Spending Plan” found “dozens of irregularities while the housing program was run by Mr. Murphy.” The report went on to conclude that under Murphy’s leadership, the city was “found to have issues with basic file organization, project management and financial compliance that are inappropriate for a city with consistent staff and a long history of receiving this grant funding.”

Although Murphy had left five years prior, the Ogdensburg City Council publicly criticized Murphy in 2012 for mishandling the city’s housing program.

(2007-2010) SARANAC LAKE, NY and (2010-2014) CORTLAND COUNTY, NY

Murphy was hired as the village manager in Saranac Lake, NY in November 2007 at a salary of $70,000 per year.

Less than two and a half years later in April 2010, Murphy suddenly resigned from the village manager job and gave no comment on his departure to the local media.

The next month, Murphy was hired to be the new Cortland (NY) County Administrator with a starting salary of $90,000,  where he remained until 2014.

(2014-2015) ONEONTA, NY

In September 2014, Murphy was named the new city manager of Oneonta, NY at a salary of $110,000.

Seven months later in April 2015, the Oneonta Daily Star article “Official: Something’s wrong in City Hall” reported that more than 30 city employees and residents packed the common council meeting in protest over Murphy’s management, marking the second straight month of the “silent protest”. Fourth Ward Council member Michael Lynch stated that “dozens” of city workers felt “either that they’re not getting the respect they deserve or they feel that they have no voice.”


“The city manager has been here six months and I’ve interacted with him twice,” said Tom Pondofino, supervisor of Water and Sewer.  “Nobody knows him.  I’m not saying he needs to pat me on the back, but I do expect him to give us his expectations of us and hear our expectations of him.”

On July 17th, the Oneonta Common Council voted to suspend Murphy. He was offered a severance of three months pay ($27,000) to resign. Murphy responded by asking for six months severance pay ($56,000).

On July 25th, Murphy resigned after signing an agreement with Common Council, with both sides agreeing not to make “disparaging statements” concerning the other party. Council agreed to pay six months severance ($56,000) plus sick, vacation, personal and holiday leave accrued ($5,900).

Two months later in September, Murphy’s attorney contacted the city of Oneonta requesting an additional $9,100 in sick leave and pension payments.

(2016-2017) NEW PORT RICHEY, FL

Murphy was hired as Assistant City Manager in New Port Richey, FL in November 2016.

Murphy left the job eleven months later in October 2016. According to Murphy, the job ended due to “financial constraints on the budget” and that the job had been “eliminated.”


On June 25 2018, the City Commission of Bunnell, FL voted 3-2 in favor of hiring Martin Murphy as their next city manager. Murphy stated that he would not suspend his job search while negotiating a contract with the city, meaning he could still accept the Geneva job if offered. The Bunnell job pays $85,000 annually.

How Did Murphy End Up A Finalist?

The city manager search process began with 21 applicants.

Several red flags

How is it possible that one of the final three candidates would reportedly be a man who has shown a pattern of jumping from job to job every few years, was found to have seriously mishandled his responsibilities at one job and has resigned from the only city manager job he’s ever held under a cloud of suspicion after dozens of city employees complained of poor treatment under his watch?

Is this one of the “three best” that city council could find?

Contact City Council today and ask them how on earth they arrived at the conclusion that this type of candidate would, in any way, be a good hire for the people of Geneva.


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