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MORPC Ends Exective Director Chester Jourdan’s Tenure Monday
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The Board of the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission today terminated its Executive Director Chester Jourdan. Jourdan’s original resignation date was set for April First. And the board said it had been trying to work out a transition plan, but with no success.
Chester Jourdan said the events during the past several weeks have caught him by surprise. When Jourdan presented Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission board members with his transition proposal earlier this year, he says he thought he would lead the organization at least through the international Eco Summit being hosted in Columbus this fall.
“Then I can transition out. That gives you time to be able to recruit. Give you time to do other things you need to do for staff and for the organization so you can continue to move on seamlessly. That is what I had kind of proposed,” Jourdan said.
Jourdan said his transition proposal was meant to generate a discussion about his departure.
“But we never got to that point. We never had those conversations because the next thing that happened was that, was this email from the lawyer that said you need to resign by March 7 or something like that,” he said.
Jourdan said he countered the March 7th resignation date with a June departure. But he says the board would not agree to that either. Finally, Jourdan said the April 1st resignation date was set, until the board voted Monday to immediately terminate him.
Jourdan said he believes his last day was moved up because he has been outspoken about the process.
“I think they were mad because I said something. I raised issues about how they were treating me and my family, Mandie. (And you think that’s what it is?) Oh, absolutely. And they took exception to that,” he said.
Jourdan is referring to his lack of access to his office, work phone and work email. And he said rumors began to float around regarding his reputation. Jourdan said there was nothing inappropriate or illegal going on at the office to warrant the board’s expeditious decision.
“I will hold up my reputation, my conduct and my behavior up against anybody,” Jourdan said.
MORPC board chair Derrick Clay said he cannot address rumors. But Clay backs up Jourdan’s claims. Clay said he has no knowledge of any illegal activity on Jourdan’s part. And Clay said the decision to move up the termination had nothing to do with Jourdan’s speaking out.
“Mr. Jourdan is free to do and say whatever he wants to say, but the A-Committee felt that it was in the best interest of the organization to sever ties and move on because, it was quite honestly, it was distracting from our core initiatives, our membership services and positioning us for our future endeavors,” he said.
Jourdan said he has not been privy to the discussions regarding the board’s ideas for a transition plan. But Clay said that’s because he has not wanted to be a part of the process.
“I probably have not talked to Chester in a month. He has not called me. I have reached out to him. Several members of the A-committee have reached out to him to try to work out something amicably. But to no avail, we have not been able to get a hold of Mr. Jourdan,” Clay said.
Clay said the board has offered Jourdan five different transition options, but Clay said Jourdan wanted to telecommute from Texas. And Clay said that just would not work. But Jourdan insists he was willing to negotiate.
Nevertheless, Jourdan and Clay express disappointment.
“It’s a sad day for the region. It’s a sad day for the organization,” Jourdan said.
“Well, we’re disappointed, as well,” Clay added.
Robert Lawler will serve as the Interim Executive Director.