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August 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Jan Gardner

Guest Columnist

Take away the spin. Take away the politics. What if it weren’t an election but rather an executive search? What decision would a corporate hiring team make about Jan Gardner as an executive director candidate with the information currently in hand? Hugh Gordon speculates.



Mrs. Jan Gardner

P.O. Box 4268

Frederick, Maryland 21705


Dear Mrs. Gardner,


Thank you for taking the time to apply for the position of county executive for Frederick County. We have reviewed your application and wanted to let you know that, although you have some of the qualities we believe to be important for the advertised position, your overall background and experience is not what will be required to run our annual half billion dollar operation.


We wanted to respond with comprehensive feedback from those involved in the hiring process.


Many of those involved in the interview process found you to be pleasant and enjoyed their time meeting you. You received very high marks for your ability to verbally communicate and express yourself. Your educational accomplishments are distinguishable and most on our team agreed that you were excellent in discussion and debate.


What the team found confusing was reconciling the information that you provided verbally with the information that is on the record documenting your actual accomplishments.


We were very troubled by decisions that you were a part of regarding a $38 million expansion of an assisted living facility without any request for financial analysis of the investment. This was a substantial investment where there was a fiduciary responsibility to proceed with caution. We were very close to discarding another candidate for the position of county executive because of the arrogant way that candidate dealt with concerns, until it was brought to our attention that the financial fallout, created by your failure to conduct due diligence, may have caused the drastic actions taken to avoid additional operational loss.


There was also a consensus of concern about multiple subsidiaries of your last organizational oversight, finding it necessary to resort to judicial process to resolve differences with your leadership. The record indicates that there was a total disregard for the needs of local concerns that were not in alignment with your own politics and opinions. Had these conflicts not been amicably resolved after your departure, the organization might have been exposed to immeasurable unbudgeted expenditures.


There was also unanimity that your disclosure of the departure from your most recent position as state director, in the offices of Barbara Mikulski was incomplete. You had indicated that you had vacated the position to consider applying for this position, but our office has been following up on rumors that the position was not vacated. We find it troubling that the senator has refused comment on the matter when an endorsement might have assisted you with your application.


In conclusion, we found that it is important that our successful candidate be able to demonstrate not only an ability to talk the talk of success, but walk the walk of success as well. While it is important to have the qualities of being personable and expressing one’s self well, policy makers in the organization have concluded that decision making utilizing those two virtues can lead to “Bernard Madoff type” of relationships. We do not intend to compare you with Mr. Madoff; we are only suggesting that until you can provide documentable successful results and achievements that our due diligence precludes us from making an investment in your hire.


We would once more like to thank you for the time you devoted to our comprehensive interview process and would recommend that you consider applying for the position of council member within our organization at a future date.




Hugh Gordon


[Editor’s Note: Mr. Gordon is a Democrat, an investor in Frederick County, a graduate of Frederick County Public Schools, and father of three daughters who also graduated from FCPS.]


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