Focus on Pembroke
The news out of the manager’s office in Pembroke is not pretty — and there should be more to come.
What is now apparent is that Town Manager Oryan Lowry used the town’s credit card for almost $1,200 in personal purchases, and when he was caught, the Pembroke Council acted quickly but not decisively. Lowry is scheduled to return to work Tuesday after being suspended for 10 working days without pay. Since his salary is about $53,000 a year, that amounts to a $2,000 loss in pay.
The Pembroke Council has twice met in closed session to discuss the situation, emerging the first time to announce the suspension, but taking no action following Tuesday’s meeting. The council is scheduled to meet again in closed session on Monday.
A sidebar to all this is that the current council is the one that hired Lowry, but there is the possibility of significant change on that board depending on what the state Board of Elections does or does not find when examining a council race that has been plagued with allegations of voter fraud. That scrutiny is expected to happen next week.
The Robesonian obtained copies of the town’s credit card statement for the past two months and published a story on Wednesday that provided some detail into Lowry’s alleged offenses. We have been unable to reach Lowry, and town officials are being quiet, saying it is a personnel matter, but the credit card statement speaks loudly.
We identified $1,187.71 that Lowry charged the town for personal expenses. Some purchases were local and appear retail-oriented, but others are linked to a trip to Utah where multiple sources have told us he charged the town for airfare, a rental car and food during a visit with a relative.
The question is obvious: Is this all there is, or are there other abuses of the credit card that occurred before the two months that we examined? We trust town officials are continuing to dig.
It’s a sad saga with an ending that should be apparent. How can Lowry manage the town finances going forward when he has violated the trust of the council and the community?
Right now, the focus is sharply on Lowry, as it should be. If Pembroke Council members don’t act forcefully, then the story will no longer be about what Lowry did do, but what the members of the council didn’t do.
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