Reinstate Jordan, return to stand-alone O&G liaison post
The recent dismissal of Garfield County oil and gas liaison Judy Jordan was puzzling, to say the least.It smacks of a political move on the part of the county government rather than a mere personnel action.In the aftermath, we are left to wonder about the motives behind the decision to let go a qualified, effective county employee who had worked hard and accomplished much in her go-between role with citizens and industry officials alike.We suggest that Garfield County officials reconsider this decision and reinstate Jordan as oil and gas liaison as soon as possible.The county should also revisit what we believe are some organizational problems that may have led to this unfortunate termination, and return the oil and gas liaison to a stand-alone departmental position.The history of this issue can be traced back to a January 2010 letter signed by representatives of several energy companies criticizing both Jordan and the county’s Energy Advisory Board over what they felt were overzealous attempts to restrict industry operations.Those concerns were duly noted and apparently addressed, as even industry officials agreed that relations with Jordan and the county had improved over the past year.David Ludlam, executive director of the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, commented in light of Jordan’s dismissal that he viewed her to be “neutral and effective” in her role. He said she brought to the position an understanding of the complex issues associated with the industry, despite the occasional disagreements over policy.So, what gives here?We suspect the decision to fire Jordan has more to do with a decision by the county commissioners earlier this year to reorganize several county departments, which brought the oil and gas liaison under the building and planning department, instead of standing on its own.This seems an odd departmental fit for this important position in county government, with its unique duties and responsibilities. The oil and gas liaison should be an independent department, answerable directly to the county manager and the county commissioners.It’s also curious that this decision comes on the heels of the commissioners’ recent move not to continue working with the Colorado School of Public Health to prepare a final draft of the Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment.Jordan had been a strong advocate for the HIA process and its intended goal to give more attention to the potential public health impacts from natural gas drilling.While the decision to dismiss Jordan without a clear reason in itself seems spineless, the double whammy to citizens of ending the HIA and then firing their only channel to address concerns with the industry comes across as almost spiteful. We feel Jordan has performed professionally and effectively in her four years as Garfield County’s oil and gas liaison. She was not always a cheerleader for the citizens’ point of view, nor was she a champion of the industry.Rather, she brought a balanced perspective that served all parties concerned well. Whatever “personnel” conflicts arose can surely be resolved, and she should be allowed to resume her role with the county.
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