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State Audits Mayor, City of Cordell
The Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector's office has finished a year-long investigation into the City of Cordell. The results of the audit finds several issues, including questions about pay to Cordell's mayor, Alex Damon.
"What we want to do is help them get by this and move forward and actually correct things, do what's in the best interest if the citizens," State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said.
Jones said his office was asked to run the audit last February. He said Cordell residents circulated a petition asking for answers about city utilities, expenses and the offices Mayor Damon holds, but did not follow correct procedure for an audit. The city council took up the issue and finally requested an official investigation, Jones said.
According to the audit, Damon is acting as mayor, Cordell's city administrator and the general manager of the New Cordell Utilities Authority. He is compensated $500 a month for his elected duties, plus an $500 as administrator and salary of $43,000 plus other benefits to serve as the NCUA GM.
"I think in this case, a lot of the people that were making these decisions were not aware of what the law is," Jones said. "The law says that if you're an elected official, you can not get paid for anything other than the position you were elected for."
The audit shows Damon inquired about conflicts with his position with the NCUA. It says the Oklahoma Municipal League indicated he could hold both. But the report says "the OML official, addressed the issue of whether an individual could receive compensation as the general manager of the utility authority and 'acting city administrator,' but (Damon) omitted the key facts that the 'acting city administrator' was also an elected official serving the governing board of the municipality and serving 'ex officio' on the NCUA board of trustees."
"When the person that comes back and tells you here's the legal opinion I got from somebody, is the one benefiting from it , you might want to check that out," Jones said.
The audit shows Damon received more than $250,000 in extra compensation, serving in all three positions, since 2007.
Damon said he was surprised with some of the findings of the audit, and said he thinks some of the findings are incorrect.
In a press release, Damon said "while these investigations are ongoing or until these matters are resolved... I will voluntarily decline any compensation for positions I hold."
Posted: Friday, January 25 2013, 10:16 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Teen in devastated Okla. town handing out hugs
May 25, 2013 02:26 GMT
MOORE, Okla. (AP) -- The people of the Oklahoma town where a deadly tornado struck could use just about everything -- cleaning supplies, food, water, shelter.
Thirteen-year-old Halle Carr thought residents of her hometown could also use a hug after the twister Monday that killed 24 people in Moore.
Halle has been standing on a corner with a white sign that reads: "Need a hug? I am here!" And people are taking her up on the offer.
On Friday, people in work trucks, cars and vans loaded with belongings rolled down their windows and reached out their arms to the girl. Some shouted words of encouragement.
Halle said it makes her feel good to spread a little cheer. She said she'll come out every day, as long as she thinks she's needed.
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