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Clearing The Air

POSTED May 15, 2012 9:24 p.m.

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to set a few things straight and issue an apology to the citizens of Oakdale. First off, I was led to believe in 2008 that my job as City Treasurer was to merely sign reports once a month and attend a pension board once a quarter. Being a political novice and a sometimes too trusting person, I relied on this advice and went about those duties as they came up. Until recently, I thought I was merely doing my job as loyal public servant. I did question why the reports were behind and accepted (Finance Director) Mr. Albert Avila’s reasoning that they would get to them as they could but they were really busy with other duties. I really had no reason to question this because I knew that department always had a ton of things going on.

Looking at the last few weeks when folks started openly questioning my position and asking where I was when some of these questionable transactions were occurring, I was wondering why are people questioning me about this when the only thing I do is sign a couple of reports? Then I asked the City Attorney for a copy of the statutes on the job as a City Treasurer and I was horrified by what I read that were my actual duties. I actually had the right to appoint deputies on my behalf to act as my agents in that department. I actually had the right to invest the city’s money. I was supposed to make sure that the city’s money was well cared for and not misused or misspent.

I agonized over this revelation the weekend before the city council meeting on May 7. I wasn’t sure exactly what my next move would be until I heard the outcry of some of the public at that meeting and then it became clear that the only choice I had was to resign. I had lost the public’s faith and their trust and there was too much anger, resentment, and bitterness for me to continue. While I truly believe I did my duty as I knew it then, I am solely responsible for my actions and dereliction in my duty to read the state code on the Treasurer position. The citizens of Oakdale deserve leaders and elected officials who know what their duties are and not take anything for granted.

In 2008, I wanted to make a difference in my community and instead 3½ years later I am told I wasn’t doing the job neither myself nor the previous City Treasurer had every right to do. I feel let down by this whole process and I feel like I let down the citizens of Oakdale. I should have looked up the code for this position, yet I chose to trust those in charge.

This is a lesson well learned on my part and should be a cautionary tale for others looking to get involved in city government. I certainly do apologize to the citizens of Oakdale for not doing my due diligence in the position I was elected to. That much I can take responsibility for and I do take that responsibility.

As for the questions of what did I know and when did I know it, I can say unequivocally that I had no knowledge of any of the financial dealings for the City of Oakdale other than the reports I was given. Again, I do apologize to the citizens of Oakdale because had I known about my duties that were in the code, I could have possibly performed more oversight than I did.

As this city moves forward, I certainly hope we can find solutions to our problems instead of pointing fingers and placing blame. As the former City Treasurer, it was my name on the front door and I should bear the brunt of the citizenry’s wrath which is why I resigned and will not seek any office in Oakdale in the future.

Michael Murray

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