On Monday of this week an article appeared in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix in which I, along with another Fort Gibson Town Trustee, was accused of having illegally submitted a change order to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Now, first of all, let me say that this accusation is absolutely untrue. The change order proposal was submitted to ODOT by the project engineer at the request of another Town Trustee. I was not present at the time and only learned about it afterwards. I certainly did not execute a change order without the Town Board of Trustees approval. In fact, the change has still not been executed as of this writing. So, the accusation was false but that is not the point of my writing.
The issue I want to address is the question of how to respond to a situation like this. At first I was incensed that I had suffered public defamation of character and had thoughts of lawsuits and demands of a retraction by the newspaper and political revenge, but I have learned that it is always to best to be patient and let the better part of judgement have time to rise to the forefront. I took no immediate action other than explaining the situation to people who directly asked me what was going on. I am glad I delayed in my reaction.
I have arrived at the conclusion that not all accusations have to be refuted. Especially not when they are politically motivated and have no basis in reality. To make a vehement response to such an accusation only seems to give it credibility that it was previous lacking thus strengthening the public perception that there is some merit to the charge. The accusers in a situation like this usually lack the confidence of the public they are trying to reach anyway.
I also realized that there has not been a single decision made since I became a member of the Fort Gibson Town Board of Trustees which would even tempt me, more less compel me, to do anything illegal or unethical. My personal reputation, word and character are far more important to me than any political contrivance could ever be. I am on the Board to serve the community of Fort Gibson to the best of my ability. I have devoted many hours to researching and learning everything I can about the legal requirements, financial systems and governing principles associated with municipal government. To that end, I feel that I have been quite successful.
In conclusion, I will not demand that the Muskogee Phoenix retract their article, nor will I sue the person who has falsely accused me. I will instead devote that time to the work for which I was elected which is the governance of the Town of Fort Gibson. I am grateful for the confidence of those who voted for me and hope that I can continue to serve their best interest and the best interest of the town as a whole for the next two years. Fort Gibson is a great community and it is my honor to live and serve here.