Schools facilities boss crossed too many lines

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Richard Murray is a card-carrying union man. He makes no secret of it. And he shouldn’t. But Murray is also the executive director of the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, which supervises the biggest school construction program the state ever has undertaken.

In that capacity, he has an obligation to maintain a strict separation between his personal links to labor unions and his duty to ensure the program proceeds in a manner that is scrupulously fair and transparent, the results cost-effective.

Last week, the Ohio inspector general released a report on Murray’s dealings with regard to union and non-union contractors. The independent investigation stemmed from growing complaints that Murray was steering contracts to union contractors, cutting out nonunion contractors by aggressively pushing project labor agreements. …

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His actions have comprised his credibility to a degree that the integrity of his decisions — and ultimately of the commission and the project as a whole — almost surely will face constant suspicion, damaging his effectiveness in the office.

To protect public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the program, Murray should step down. …

Gov. Ted Strickland must find a director capable of navigating the divide between union and nonunion interests.