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Documents Show Rift Between Former MORPC Exec. Dir. And Board

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is in the process of looking for a new leader. Monday, MORPC announced it was immediately terminating its executive director – sooner than the planned departure. WOSU reports there was a growing rift between board members and Chester Jourdan. For some, Chester Jourdan’s resignation came as a surprise. The public was told Jourdan was returning to Texas to be near family. But emails released to WOSU from MORPC indicate Jourdan and board members were growing apart and their organizational philosophies differed. While Jourdan’s efforts as executive director continued to be praised by board members, documents indicate he was slacking on some job duties; a claim Jourdan vehemently denies. And salary also became an issue. According to documents, it took five months to negotiate Jourdan’s final contract. After forgoing raises his first four years of employment, Jourdan wanted a sharp jump in pay. He asked the board to increase his salary from $160,000 to $192,000 -- a 20 percent increase. But board rejected the idea. They eventually settled on $172,000. Jourdan told WOSU he always went above and beyond the goals set for him and the organization. He claims MORPC officers wanted to control day-to-day operations. The differences appear to have peaked late last year when Jourdan spoke to the media about a new building purchase, a move that angered some board members. And then Jourdan was denied a request for international work travel. Soon after, Jourdan made the decision to leave. And an agreement on a severance package and exit date was arduous. At one point, Jourdan asked to take all negotiations off the table and continue as executive director. But that request was denied. Robert Lawler will serve as interim executive director as MORPC looks for Jourdan’s replacement.