City manager accuses board member of unethical conduct
FERRIS – Ferris City Manager Bill Jordan attacked The Ellis County Press Publisher Charles Hatfield again last week – this time by email.
Jordan accused Hatfield of violating the city’s ethics rules and blasted him for trying to schedule meetings behind Jordan’s back.
Hatfield serves on the Economic Development 4A Board
Actually, Hatfield did, in fact, send an email to recently appointed Ferris Economic Director Scott Jones, asking him to meet with himself and Bea Wallace, a city benefactor, and to please keep the email confidential and not invite Jordan. This was an effort to reestablish some sort of a relationship between Mrs. Wallace and the city – something nonexistent since Jordan became city manager.
Hatfield’s email was sent to Jones’ private Gmail account.
According to a source, the city’s WIFI setup allows the IT Department to intercept city emails – and also personal messages within city hall as well. The same source said Ferris’ city hall also had cameras sprinkled throughout, and hidden voice-activated microphones recording every conversation.
Interestingly, Texas Penal Code § 16.02 makes it a crime to intercept or record any “wire, oral, or electronic communication” unless one party to the conversation consents – which means it’s illegal to record conversations one’s not part of.
Jordan read Hatfield’s email to Jones’ private email account, immediately jumped to the conclusion Hatfield wanted to bypass him because of a planned gun range on the Wallace property, and fired off his own reply on The Ellis County Press publisher’s original email chain.
“I am the President of the 4A Board and the City Manager, stated Jordan’s email to Hatfield,
“To ask my staff to exclude me from negotiations and not to tell me about it is unethical and unacceptable,
“I will be making the council aware of these actions as well as placing this on the next 4A agenda to discuss with your peers,
“I will NOT stand for clandestine negotiations nor allow my staff to participate in such,”
Additionally, it stated, “Since this is not the first time this has happened with you specifically, as this is reminiscent of actions you had taken with Sean Overeynder, Ferris’ prior economic development director, I have no choice but to address this ethics issue head on.”
The entire email chain was forwarded by Jordan to the mayor, every council member, members of the 4A Board – and, incredibly, to The Waxahachie Daily Light and The Ennis Daily News, raising the question, “Does conversing with a quorum of council at the same time constitute an unposted, illegal meeting meant to bypass the public?”
Responding to Jordan’s accusations, Hatfield replied “Bill, you do what you want,
“There was nothing nefarious about the meeting. It was simply a meeting to introduce Scott to Bea. There was nothing unethical about the meeting,
“The gun range plans are on hold and won’t be brought in consideration anytime soon and has nothing to do with the meeting,
“It’s apparent (you’re) paranoid of losing control of something by not being included,
“I will not allow you to tag along uninvited to any meeting I’ve set up,
“Future plans I have are none of your business,
“Let me save you the trouble of the ethics issue. I submit my resignation of the 4A Board effective immediately,
“And I’ll meet with anyone, anytime I damn well please. And I can assure you – you won’t be invited.”
Hatfield, upset over being dubbed, “unethical” by the person he believes is the most unethical person ever employed by the city, closed by stating, “I have never personally gained anything in my capacity on serving on any boards and I resent the accusation (just) because you got your feelings hurt,”
“Additionally, I don’t recognize you have any authority over me. I’m not part of your staff,
“As far as any further cooperation with the city, that ceases immediately.”
Jordan has a lengthy history of unethical behavior while employed with the city.
He was investigated by the Bowman Group, an outside investigative firm, after being accused of 11 counts of sexual harassment by city employees. The investigation sustained (proved) 6 of the 11 counts. Four were not proven, with a fifth not investigated because it was already under Federal investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The Bowman Group’s report concluded, “Jordan had intentionally created an environment wherein harassing elements would be the norm and only potentially disallowed if someone signaled disapproval. However, repeated testimony indicated that subordinates advised Bill Jordan of his misconduct over an extended period, yet he repeatedly reoffended. The environment during his tenure is characterized with periodic, if not frequent, sexually suggestive comments, insults and innuendo, and allowing the same behavior from subordinates to go uncorrected. It is apparent that despite efforts to manage the fiscal affairs of the City of Ferris, Bill Jordan has lost management control of the city work environment and completely compromised his ability to lead and discipline his staff.”
When the report was presented May 8, 2018 to then Mayor Micheal Driggars and the sitting city council at that time in Executive Session, they astonishingly voted to extend Jordan’s contract for another year.
As recently as November, Jordan was accused by a water department employee of forcing her to resign and take the blame for a water-bill averaging scandal after many residents complained to council members. The employee said Jordan and her superior instructed her to do the averaging, then threw her under the bus when the heat was on, threatening she would be prosecuted unless she resigned – and made her sign an already-prepared resignation letter.
When the truth came out, council ordered Jordan to reinstate the employee. She was reinstated, but because Jordan wanted her to sign a non-disclosure letter about the incident, she resigned again, this time with her own written letter.
And in December, Jordan didn’t act soon enough in the eyes of many residents and council members when public works personal were photographed after hours throwing away donated food and still-packaged pet supplies at the Ferris Animal Shelter. Those same photographs showed animals in cages laying in their own feces.
After public outcries hit the ears of council, Jordan said rats had gotten into the food and much had expired dates. He presented the council with a slide show to prove the shelter had been cleaned up. Councilwoman Sherie Chapman said she appreciated his, “pretty pictures, but the (whole situation) was a disgrace.”
This latest attack on Hatfield isn’t the first time Jordan has tried to control him.
Jordan unsuccessfully attempted to have Hatfield removed from both boards previously citing, “Conflict of interest.”
Unable to prove any instance of wrongdoing, Jordan, with then Mayor Driggars was instrumental in persuading a majority of councilpersons to have Hatfield’s newspaper removed as the city’s paper of record after 25 years.
This was perceived as retaliation for unflattering articles written not just about Jordan, but also Driggars and the city council.
Hatfield rescinded his resignation Monday, Jan. 28, and has vowed to show up at the next 4A meeting and challenge Jordan to prove he was “unethical.”
“The gantlet has been thrown down and, to quote Russell Crowe as a Roman Legion general in the movie Gladiators – said, ‘Release Hell,’” quipped Hatfield.