Last week the CdA Press ran an article about local realtor Brad Jordan and his two business partners when their longtime GMAC real estate enterprise closed its doors. Their business declared bankruptcy and left in its wake a long line of folks waiting for payment.
Normally a business bankruptcy would not make headlines and is certainly not unusual in our currently challenging economy. This situation is different, however, and is a concern for our community because Brad Jordan holds two important positions of public trust. Brad is the Chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and he is also on the board of LCDC, our urban renewal agency.
As chair of P&Z, Brad influences decisions about development projects within the city and directs planning for future land uses. As a member of LCDC, Brad votes to use taxpayer dollars for development projects and helps decide who will or will not receive public money. Last year, almost $5 million dollars in public tax increment from local property taxes went to LCDC, so this is a major responsibility.
Neither of these positions are elected; Brad was appointed and has been on both boards for a very long time.
Now his business has closed. The bankruptcy papers show assets of only $650,000 against debts totaling nearly $5 million. And there’s a long list of local people who will probably never be paid for their work. A fence business is owed almost $40,000, which must be devastating in this tight economy. There are attorneys, accountants, many marketing / advertising companies, little sign shops and, of course, real estate agents hoping for their commissions.
Two local banks are involved. One is holding loans of nearly $500,000. Another bank, that does quite a lot of business with LCDC, is listed for over $250,000. There’s an engineering and land development firm owed more than $50,000. What happens if this engineering firm is hired to prepare documents and present them to P&Z for an upcoming project? Or what about a bank that wants consideration for development loans with LCDC? Would Brad have to recuse himself for every debtor that might come forward with business involving P&Z or the LCDC?
There’s an even more troubling aspect to this situation. It’s sensitive and difficult to address without treading on toes, so I will go lightly. Let me start by sincerely stating that Brad Jordan is a nice person. He is pleasant and polite and seems to get along with everyone. His Dad was a legendary and much-loved high school basketball coach here forever. Many of the inside elite of our city’s power grid played basketball for Coach Jordan, back in the day.
That said, there is a looming concern: Does having a financially compromised person in a position of public trust create an undue risk for the citizens? Our federal government seems to think so, and takes great pains to avoid these potential dangers. My friend Bill McCrory, who runs the discussion web site OpenCdA.com with me, is retired Secret Service, Technical Division. Bill advises that anyone applying for a position of public trust at the federal level must answer probing questions and lengthy disclosures about their personal and business finances. They must reveal any bankruptcies, tax liens, or legal judgements for debts within the past seven years. They are required to list any delinquent loans or financial obligations in great detail. Bill says, “Someone in the position of handling the public’s money or making decisions involving spending the public’s money must be worthy of the public’s trust and confidence. I have the same expectation of local and state officials.”
Our local government, however, does not see things the same way. The Press article quoted Mayor Bloem, City Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander, LCDC Chair Denny Davis and LCDC Executive Director Tony Berns as all supporting Brad’s continued presence on both P&Z and LCDC. They said there’s no problem. And Mr. Jordan does not see any reason for stepping down from his appointed positions.
So, what happens when a major power player like Steve Meyer, (whose business partner is Charlie Nipp of LCDC, whose wife is on the NIC Board of Trustees and who employs City Councilman Mike Kennedy, full time, in a different business) comes to either P&Z or LCDC with a request? Steve is listed on Brad’s business debts for $650,000 and had to file a lawsuit to recover a total of $150,000.
I will leave you to your own conclusions.