Question: Do the people who do the hiring in state government not conduct background checks on their potential new hires?
The question begs to be asked after State Parks Commissioner Gerry van der Meer announced (actually, he kind of just put him in and hoped no one would notice) that he’d hired former Jeffersontown Mayor Clay Foreman as the new Parks Director for Tom Sawyer Park in eastern Jefferson County.
It’s a puzzling hire. You can read some of the logic at Insider Louisville (thanks for the plug, Terry!). But there’s absolutely no logical way for the Parks Department to make this hire. I’ve outlined in blog posts throughout the last couple of years all of Foreman’s deficiencies as a politician and a human being. Was the hiring done without looking at the results of a Google search, making a call or two to city residents, or does the system just condone Foreman’s actions while in office?
Were the other four candidates so unqualified that the State decided to hire a guy with shaky morals and ethics, a track record of questionable financial decisions involving public money, rampant cronyism and no real experience running a parks department? Should I mention a failing business?
Remember, he was caught on tape overseeing a crew that was looting an evicted tenant’s stuff. His hand-picked Works Department manager, and a long-time family friend (and rumored partying pal) was arrested for cocaine possession. There was a domestic violence call to J-town police, requiring a run to Foreman’s house, where police intervened in a dispute he had with his ex-wife. A C-J investigation revealed Foreman had no controls to determine who was filling up with city gas.
The list goes on. The city is still trying to settle with three employees who Foreman fired for political reasons. When the City Council agreed to submit to drug tests, Foreman refused, saying he’d taken one elsewhere.
He got away with all this, and might have won another term if not for the looting fiasco uncovered by WLKY’s John Boel. Instead, and this should have been a huge red flag for the State’s Parks System, he lost his run for re-election. An incumbent mayor in a wealthy small city, with no real crisis going on, was booted out of office by a whopping margin. Voters figured it out, and fired him.
Of course, Foreman dismisses all the accusations as a political plot form his enemies. And a state spokesman pointed to accomplishments in Jeffersontown, such as overseeing special events, even though J-town insiders know that Foreman was often a no-show even at the city’s biggest event, the Gaslight Festival.