It hasn’t been a conflict of interest in 20 years…

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Why does council think it is now?

By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press

FERRIS – At the Ferris City Council meeting last week, one agenda item had some residents asking questions. 

As reported weeks ago, Ferris City Manager Bill Jordan recently shuffled management reporting structure in what he said was an effort to take back control of the Economic Development Corporation.

To that end, Ferris’ Economic Development Director Sean Overeynder ended up with a new boss versus working directly with the 4A and 4B boards.

Jordan said at the time, “The changes were made for better communication since I was not being kept up to speed.”

Jordan said he did not go against the 4A and 4B boards bylaws when issuing this directive.

On the agenda last week, there was an item seeming just as questionable as Overeynder’s latest reporting structure change has been.

The item did not see action behind closed doors in the City Council executive session, but it pertained to The Ellis County Press Publisher Charles Hatfield’s role on the EDC and Planning and Zoning boards.

Hatfield is not new to the board and no conflict of interest discussion has ever come up in the past 20 years he has sat in the P&Z seat.

“It has been brought to my attention I’m listed on the June 4 City Council agenda as an Executive Session item to discuss possible conflict of interest,” Hatfield said.

“I have been on the P&Z board for more than 20 years and currently serve as chair. 

“I have served on the 4A Economic Development Board for the past five years.

“At no time have compromised my ethics oath on file with the city. As such, I request as my right, for this discussion to be held in public view.”

It is unclear why Jordan decided at this time to point the finger at Hatfield who has not changed his way of conducting himself at these meeting since he took office.

The Ferris Economic Development Corporation has tried hard over the past few years to little avail to bring more money into the city by way of businesses coming to town. 

Jordan has also mandated no city staff was permitted to make any comment to media or in some cases at all without his approval.

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