We’re overdue to deliver a slow but sincere one-man round of applause for Adam Murphy. The WGCL reporter has taken more than his share of abuse on this site for the still-unfortunate Restaurant Report Card. But maybe that franchise, and Murphy’s tough-guy role in it, has steeled him for the worthy work he’s done in the last few weeks on the Atlanta Water Department follies.
Investigative reporter Wendy Saltzman has been equally tenacious. Saltzman and Murphy tag-teamed a Water Department news conference last week, wherein commissioner Rob Hunter tried to explain that the city’s bizarre overbilling of residential customers raises “complicated issues.” Maybe for him, yeah. WGCL has documented extraordinarily large water bills that have suddenly and inexplicably arrived in the mailboxes of Atlanta residents.
“Let me make it clear. Commissioner Hunter called that news conference because of our persistence on this story,” Murphy began a live shot. “In fact, Commissioner Rob Hunter said I was rude when I tried to ask him a tough question.”
Murphy’s package began with Hunter triumphantly telling the news conference about flaws in a list of complaining water customers delivered the previous day by WGCL. Hunter said the list didn’t include street addresses and phone numbers. WGCL sent a second photog to the newser. When Murphy pounced, it was on-camera.
“You mentioned six people were unreachable. You realize… they all have e-mail addresses. They are reachable, first of all. Second of all, are you saying that every one of the people who has contacted us is making this up and lying?” Score a bulls-eye for Murphy.
“Absolutely not saying that. And I don’t know how you would reach that conclusion,” Hunter stammered. We’d like to know if that’s the exchange the brought the allegation that Murphy was “rude.” Murphy never gives the details, unfortunately.
Murphy has been following the story almost daily in his role as WGCL’s consumer reporter. It’s a story that’s rife with ongoing trouble, made worse by Rob Hunter’s efforts to dodge WGCL’s questions and failure to fix the problem. WGCL has found and stayed after an absurd and inexplicable story that deserves exposure and affects real people. If the trade-off is that we must tolerate the Restaurant Report Card, we’re OK with that.