As an outraged Oakley taxpayer, I believe it’s high time the Oakley City Council was taken to task for its part in the attempt to bail out City Manager Bryan Montgomery’s “underwater” home loan to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars at Oakley taxpayers’ expense.
A bailout written, conceived and performed by the city manager, by agreeing to meet with him behind closed doors and negotiate said half-million home loan bailout, was more than a serious lapse of judgment on the council’s part; said meeting was illegal.
At the council meeting on Oct. 25, merely rescinding their generous half-million-dollar donation to the most highly paid member of their staff and saying mea culpa to the taxpayers was just not good enough. It is still so obvious that the only reason for the abject apologies was because they got caught red-handed.
At a time when Oakley residents are losing their homes on a daily basis, the council had the hubris to allow Mr. Montgomery’s relief of home loan payments for 27 months on a house financed for him by the Oakley taxpayers. This saved him about $50,000 during that time, which he used to purchase another home, since sold by him at a profit.
Why was Oakley City Attorney Derek P. Cole adamant that the meeting at which the bailout was negotiated was not illegal, yet subsequently he rescinded that statement on Nov. 9?
There are many questions to be answered here, especially in light of the fact that Councilmember Carol Rios has not yet provided Oakley residents and taxpayers with an acceptable explanation of why she was AWOL for two council meetings over the course of a month during the council meetings in which this issue was primary on the agenda and, when questioned repeatedly about this by Oakley residents and the press alike, they were discourteously ignored.
Her response was no response at all. This is “politics” at its very worst: the apathetic, unapologetic, lack of respect for those who pay her salary – the taxpayers of Oakley – and those whose job it is to enlighten them, the press.
What is Mrs. Rios’ response to the furor over her role in Bryan Montgomery’s bailout? The same city manager who not only wrote, but also negotiated, this “special deal” with her and the other council members behind closed doors and Mrs. Rios is the only councilmember who has yet to address this issue and apologize to the taxpayers of Oakley. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
At this late stage, an apology from her is not only unforthcoming, but would be too little, too late. I therefore suggest that councilmember Rios either resign or be recalled by the outraged taxpayers of Oakley.
As elected council persons, they all not only have a responsibility to the voters and taxpayers of Oakley, but to fully understand the laws that govern their jobs as trusted keepers of the city’s coffers.