By Sheila Hatfield / The Ellis County Press
FERRIS – “Ferris may be small, but it is big on drama,” began an expose on Ferris’ government last week by CBS DFW Channel 11.
The story by reporter Andrea Lucia exposed a newly-released investigation by the Bowman Group which found city manager Bill Jordan, while on a business trip to Las Vegas, texted an employee pictures of cards advertising local prostitutes.
Jordan also admitted to talking about an employee’s breasts and joking with another employee about hers.
The report only accused him of “bad judgment,” blaming him for contributing to a “dysfunctional office environment” and claimed he’s “compromised his ability to lead and discipline his staff.”
Jordan had a total of 11 counts of sexual harassment filed against him.
Six of those had proof submitted.
Even so, last month, after receiving a preliminary copy of the investigative report, city council voted to renew his contract for another year.
The investigation also had found council members Rick Barrett and Jim Swafford may have violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when they individually ordered Police Chief Eddie Salazar to begin investigating Jordan.
“One city council member cannot, without formal council authorization, legally act on behalf of the governing body,” the report read.
The city council ultimately voted to hire independent investigators with the Bowman Group to avoid bias.
Lucia said the investigation was initially prompted by complaints from a single employee, who did not appear to be the target of any of the alleged harassment.
Jordan declined an on-camera interview but told CBS-11 he believed the complaints against him were retribution for concerns he’d recently voiced about the police department.
He said he tried to make city hall a relaxed, enjoyable workplace, but that it may have gone too far.
Actually, there have been a series of retaliations from Jordan himself on these matters, including suspending Salazar and his chief investigator Walter “Gator” Weise for having lunch with a local newspaper publisher, influencing the council to remove The Ellis County Press as the city’s paper of record, issuing memos to employees restricting them from having any conversations with persons who do business with the city, demanding the Economic Development Director to ask his permission before speaking to board members, and threatening to fire certain employees for speaking to press members.
“‘Sex in the City’ is what I call it,” said Tina Miller, owner of Country Corner Treasurers, to the CBS reporter.
Miller had been appealing to the city for months to “clean up what her customers have labeled, ‘The Ferris city hall brothel.’”
“Would you feel comfortable in that environment?” Lucia said Miller asked.
Since the report came out, the face of the council has changed with Swafford elected as mayor on May 5 and Jay Walsh voted in to replace Swafford’s council seat and Sherie Chapman filling former Alderwoman Carol Wright’s seat.
The story can be viewed here: