City Manager Search: Watertown Hires Finn, Murphy “Fired” in Florida

Two of the final three candidates in the Geneva city manager search have been getting some attention outside of Geneva. The city of Bunnell, Florida retracted their offer to Martin Murphy after seeing “red flags,” and Rick Finn was hired in Watertown, New York under heavy scrutiny after the Geneva Believer story about Finn went viral in the north country city.

Murphy “Fired” Before He Was Even Hired

The candidate identified to Geneva Believer by inside sources as the number two candidate for the Geneva city manager position was former Oneonta city manager Martin Murphy. The Bunnell (Florida) City Commission voted to hire Murphy on June 25, at the same time Murphy was in the running for the Geneva job. Shortly thereafter, Murphy began making contract demands and negotiations began.

But on July 9, the Bunnell City Commission voted to reject Murphy for the city manager position after the city accommodated many of Murphy’s demands and he still refused to accept the job.

Martin Murphy

According to Bunnell City Commissioner John Sowell:

“I don’t think Mr. Murphy is a good fit for the City of Bunnell and I don’t think the city of Bunnell is a good fit for Mr. Murphy,” Sowell said in a statement, adding in person: “What I see here is an enthusiasm gap on the part of Mr. Murphy and on the part of this commission.”

Rick Finn, Again Under Fire, Hired As Watertown City Manager

On Friday July 13, the Watertown (NY) City Council announced the hiring of Rick Finn, who was the front-runner for the Geneva city manager position, as Watertown’s new city manager. Shortly after the announcement, Finn and Watertown council members were under fire after the July 7th Geneva Believer article about Finn’s history began making the rounds in Watertown.

According to the Watertown Daily Times:

When asked about the accusations, Mr. Finn blamed the blogger — identified as Genevan Jim Meaney — for disparaging his reputation because Mr. Meaney wanted another candidate to be hired in Geneva.

“I think I’m sort of a victim,” he said Friday night.

Mr. Meaney could not be reached for comment.

The Watertown Daily Times did not reach out to me for a comment.

After reading the article, I sent the following statement to the Watertown Daily Times:

After receiving an anonymous tip, I published the article about Mr. Finn, citing numerous news stories from communities where he worked dating back over twenty years. He was one of two candidates for the Geneva city manager job, and after seeing the staggering number of allegations in his past, I voiced my support for the only other candidate, the current interim city manager and a highly qualified woman with a sterling reputation in our community.
Mr. Finn’s attempt to blame the revelation of these well-documented and highly concerning issues from his past on a “blogger with an agenda” is absurd, but consistent with Mr. Finn’s history of avoiding accountability for his own actions by blaming others, claiming he’s just been misunderstood, or suddenly resigning while under scrutiny.
And by choosing to describe himself as a “victim” of my story, Mr. Finn shows a disconcerting lack of awareness of the scores of women, people of color, and subordinates who allege they have been victimized by Mr. Finn’s “management style.”
In a follow-up article on July 15, the Watertown Daily Times printed a part of my statement and also the following puzzling and completely false claim:
Mr. Meaney acknowledged that he supported an internal candidate for that position whose family is well-known in Geneva.
In addition, the Watertown Daily Times stated that I had “accused Mr. Finn of victimizing “many women, people of color” through his “management style.”
For the record, Geneva Believer did not accuse Finn of anything.
New Watertown City Manager Rick Finn
On Monday, July 15, the Watertown City Council officially approved Rick Finn as the new Watertown City Manager.

Council To Meet On Monday July 23 To Discuss City Manager Search

An executive session city council meeting will take place on Monday, July 23, at 6:00pm at City Hall.
With the front-runner Rick Finn now out of the running, and Martin Murphy available again, will council select the only qualified candidate without a checkered past, Sage Gerling, as the new city manager?
It appears that this question will be answered very soon.
Geneva’s Director of Neighborhood Initiatives and current interim City Manager Sage Gerling

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