Mar 12, 2015

6 Million Dollar Man

In 1975 I was working for the Will County Regional Planning Commission.  Will County is a large County on the south edge of the Chicago metropolitan area.  It was rapidly changing and growth was exploding.

My boss was Tom Murphy, a fine planner but possessed of a fiery Irish temper and who was frustrated by the County Board. We all wanted the County Forest Preserve District to buy Forest Preserves to serve our rapidly growing population.

There was also a problem of flooding in the east side of Joliet. We developed a plan with the State of Illinois to buy flood plain in Hickory and Spring Creek and construct reservoirs to reduce flooding and acquire open space.

The County was composed of 27 members.  Some of them supported planning and Tom Murphy. They wanted to pass a six million dollar bond issue to start acquiring open space.  There was another group who did not care about planning or open space but wanted the flood control benefits.  And there was a third group who did not care much about open space acquisition but wanted to fire Tom Murphy.

Murphy was very angry with the County Board and publicly bashed them for being tightwads, in part because we were the lowest paid planning agency in metro Chicago.  I talked to Tom and tried to get him to dial back the criticism but he was too angry. Every day there was a headline with Murphy hitting them pretty hard.

The group that wanted Murphy out made a deal with the folks who wanted to buy open space and the group who wanted flood control. They passed the 6 million dollar bond issue and fired Tom. 

Hickory Creek

And that is how Tom Murphy became the 6 million dollar man.