Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Water Management Commissioner Barrett Murphy and accepted the resignation of managing deputy William Bresnahan over sexist and racist emails circulating within the Department of Water Management, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Chicago’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson uncovered the emails while investigating allegations that Paul Hansen, a district superintendent in the department, had used his city email account to sell guns.
Reportedly, Murphy was held responsible for the chain of racist and sexist emails sent by Hansen, whom he failed to discipline. Murphy had received the emails.
The racist emails include references to now-former President Barack Obama, inappropriate comments about women and gay people and an image of an African-American deputy commissioner in charge of water distribution that replaced his face with an image of a gorilla’s.
Murphy’s firing reportedly surprised many because his wife, Lynn Lockwood, is friends with the mayor’s wife and was also appointed by the mayor to the Chicago Public Library board in 2012.
We were made aware from an [inspector general] report on one particular employee. But in that process, it exposed a culture in the Water Department and in the workplace that, in my view, does not represent what the city’s values are,” Mayor Emanuel said.
The Crossroads Foundation of the Francis Xavier Ward School recently honored both Murphy and Lockwood for helping to raise money that provided school scholarships to disadvantaged children. The planned ceremony happened just hours after the dismissal, and was reportedly awkward.
Chicago Alderman Edward Burke said a commissioner that looked the other way when racist and sexist emails are circulated is not consistent with the Barrett Murphy he knows.
Hansen is the son of former city Alderman Bernard Hansen.