Garfield County fires Judy Jordan
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO, Colorado
Garfield County’s liaison with the oil and gas industry, Judy Jordan, on Wednesday received a “notice of involuntary termination” from the county, meaning she has been dismissed.
Jordan does have the right to file an administrative appeal of the termination, according to her attorney, Tim Whitsitt of Carbondale, and he said she is “reviewing her options as to whether to exercise that right.”
Jordan, 48, has worked for the county since 2007 and has occasionally drawn criticism from officials in the oil and gas industry working in the Piceance Basin gas fields.
She declined to discuss the matter on Wednesday when contacted by a Post Independent reporter, and emails sent to County Manager Ed Green and her immediate supervisor, county planning director Fred Jarman, seeking comment were not answered as of press time.
Whitsitt confirmed that Jordan received the notice on Wednesday.
Area residents who had come to rely on Jordan’s role as an intermediary dealing with their concerns about the effects of the gas drilling industry on everything from their health to their property values expressed their dismay over Jordan’s dismissal.
“This is a travesty,” said Marion Wells of Rulison, “not only for me but for the entire county, because she did a tremendous job.”
Wells has had numerous clashes with the industry over a variety of complaints, ranging from industry trucks allegedly using her driveway to turn around, to charges that industrial fluids from drilling sites have polluted her land, among other issues.
Another resident, Fiona Lloyd of Silt Mesa, has worked with Jordan in negotiations with Antero Resources over Antero’s plans to drill in the Silt Mesa area.
“It’s mind-boggling,” said Lloyd of Jordan’s dismissal, connecting it to the county commissioners’ recent decision to not complete the Health Impact Assessment at Battlement Mesa, another neighborhood targeted for drilling.
“First they don’t finish the HIA, then they get rid of the liaison between citizens and the industry. What kind of message does that send to the people of Garfield County?” Lloyd asked.
The BOCC earlier this year declined to renew a contract with the Colorado School of Public Health for completion of the HIA, which was begun in 2010.
The HIA process had been prolonged after the study had gotten bogged down in part by a flood of negative comments from the oil and gas industry and state health officials.
Answering her own question, Lloyd said she thinks the message from the county government is, “We don’t care about your health and welfare. We’re bought and paid for by the industry.”
Jarman became Jordan’s direct supervisor earlier this year, when the board of county commissioners reorganized county staff and moved the oil and gas liaison position into the county building and planning department. Prior to that, the oil and gas office was a separate department, with Jordan as its department head.
Jordan also was criticized directly by oil and gas officials in January 2010 in a letter from several companies that accused her of “a perceived partiality” that conflicted with industry interests.
At the time, Jordan conceded that she had occasionally made recommendations to the BOCC, or public comments, that conflicted with industry interests.
“Part of my job is to do things that the industry doesn’t like, and they call that being ‘anti-industry,'” she remarked. “But that doesn’t make me anti-industry.”
An October 2009 performance review by Green, she said, “was about 95 percent glowing,” with the exception of the comments from the industry.
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