Politics

Willard Murray still at the public teat

Murray was in the Assembly for four terms, ran a slate mailer in South L.A. with Mervyn Dymally and spawned ex-legislator Kevin Murray. Willard's name figures prominently today in a great San Gabriel Valley Tribune story on expense account abuses at 12 local water districts, a time-honored patronage spot for pols in need of health insurance or a job with free-flowing cash. Highlights:

Willard Murray, director at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California was paid close to $90,000 in two years for attending meetings and for travel expenses that included a trip to Mexico City....

Murray, a former Assemblyman who served four terms, attended conferences across the country. Records show a $749 dinner at L'Opera Ristorant in Long Beach.

Murray, 77, who joined the district two years after leaving the legislature in 1996, is the only director on the Water Replenishment District who used a $10,000-limit district-issued credit card and has incurred at least $20,000 in travel and meal costs.

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Murray picked up nearly $3,000 worth of meals, as well as received a payment from the district for attending these meetings. Meetings included a $75 dinner at the Los Angeles restaurant, Buggy Whip, five meals at $1,000 Del Rae Restaurant in Pico Rivera, multiple lunches at TGI Fridays in Cerritos, a $749 dinner at L'Opera Ristorant in Long Beach on April 24, 2005, and $187 meal in July 2006 at the Water Grill in downtown Los Angeles....None of the receipts show who Murray was meeting.

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In two years, Murray's conference destinations included Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Italy. The district covered the travel expenses for all conferences except for the Salt Water Intrusion Conference in Cagliari, Italy. However, Murray did charge the district for three days worth of work, at $225 a day.

The story lists the pretty nice perks of district service and also focuses on Leon Garcia, president of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District board. Both Murray and Garcia declined to talk to the newspaper.



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