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Published: 12/22/2013 - Updated: 3 months ago

OWENS COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Kasich pick for trustee questioned on his past

Appointee’s criminal record surfaces

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — One of Gov. John Kasich’s appointments last week to the Owens Community College Board of Trustees is in jeopardy after the governor’s office later learned the appointee had withheld information during the vetting process about a criminal record.

The governor’s chief counsel on Friday sent a letter to Keith Bernard Jordan, Sr., president of the Toledo Board of Community Relations and vice president/​director of development for JLJ Vision Outreach.

The letter noted four dates, three in 2001 and one in 2004, when Mr. Jordan was booked in Toledo on a variety of charges that included driving under suspension, failing to leave information after an accident involving a car off the street, obstructing official business, giving false information to a police officer issuing a ticket, and other primarily traffic-related charges.

“On page 2 of the application which you completed, it asks whether you ‘as an adult [have] been charged with any crime or arrested for any crime (regardless of whether you were convicted or acquitted) excluding minor traffic offenses? If so, please identify,’” reads the letter sent by D. Michael Grodhaus.

“You responded ‘NO’ to that question,” the letter reads. “The Governor needs to know immediately if the information we have received regarding these alleged arrests is accurate.”

Contacted Friday night, Mr. Jordan, 40, confirmed that he is indeed the person in the documentation that led to the letter.

“I was young and dumb,” he said.

“That was the situation. I was immature. I was back and forth with driving without a license. I couldn’t afford insurance. I thought this was taken care of. I referred it to counsel and was trying to get it expunged. I did these things, and I regret that the situation came up the way it did. We all have done something stupid at one point or time in our life.”

He said he lost his license because he didn’t have insurance but continued to drive anyway because of work obligations.

A gubernatorial appointment takes effect as soon as it is made, but Mr. Jordan has yet to attend a trustees meeting and has not taken an oath of office.

His name has yet to be officially sent to the Ohio Senate for confirmation. The Owens board seat had been empty more than a year, and Mr. Jordan’s appointment was to run through Sept. 21, 2014.

Mr. Jordan said his background was not a secret and said he regularly undergoes criminal background checks because of his work with schools.

He said the charges don’t rise to the level of interfering with his work.

“It’s a crime,” he said. “It was wrong. But it wasn’t a crime that would stop me from working with my clientele.”

He intends to make the case to the governor that he is still has something to offer as a trustee, serving as an example to others, particularly to inner-city African-Americans, who get into trouble while young.

“Those are things that happened in the past,” he said. “They do not reflect who I am today. They made me the person I am today.”

Also named to the Owens board last week were Mary Beth Hammond of Findlay, a vice president and senior private banker with Fifth Third Bank, and Dr. Srinivas K. Hejeebu of Sylvania, professor of medicine at the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine, the former Medical College of Ohio.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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