Jeff Will

Jordan councilman Jeff Will being sworn into office in 2017.

Jordan City Councilman Jeff Will was the subject of an Aug. 16 employee complaint that spurred the city council to authorize an ongoing investigation earlier this month, City Attorney Brian Wisdorf revealed in response to a records request filed by the Jordan Independent late last month.

Wisdorf said the city could not release the complete document, however, because “it contains a great deal of private personnel data,” and that such data is “inextricably intertwined so as to leave the document meaningless if we try to redact the private data.”

The city attorney did say the complaint was in response to an alleged Aug. 5 incident that occurred between Will and a city employee. According to Wisdorf, the complaint alleges that Will had a "very personal and uncomfortable" one-on-one conversation with the employee and "exhibited inappropriate behavior for a council member in a professional environment." Will did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment on Wednesday. 

On Sept. 3, the city council authorized Madden, Galanter Hansen LLP, a Bloomington law firm, to investigate the complaint at a rate of $180 per hour. 

This marks the second investigation into a complaint lodged against Will within a six-month period. Will was the subject of a Personnel Committee investigation in March after city attorneys reviewed a complaint of “abusive communication” from a city employee. The investigation cost the city around $7,500, according to council documents.

On another front, Jordan Mayor Tanya Velishek petitioned for a restraining order against Will last month, accusing him of harassment and threatening communication.

Will and Velishek's attorneys are currently in the process of negotiating terms for the order. If an agreement isn't reached by Oct. 7, an evidentiary hearing will be held in Scott County Court and the matter will be settled by a judge. 

Previous complaint

After a city employee filed a complaint against Will on March 5, former City Attorney Annette Margarit interviewed nine employees or city partners, and some reported observing or experiencing inappropriate behavior by Will.

According to a report by city attorneys, the alleged behavior against Will included:

  • Angrily arguing about council decisions.
  • Frequently using profanity in public.
  • Frequently making sexual statements.
  • Making degrading comments about women.
  • In one instance, massaging a woman's neck, stopping when she recoiled and apologizing.

The report stated at least one contributor said Will didn't interfere with women's personal space or enter their offices.

On April 1, the council voted to remove Will from the committee and prohibit him from one-on-one contact with city employees for the rest of 2019. The council voted 6-0 to approve the motion, with Will abstaining.

Velishek's allegations

In an affidavit filed in Scott County District Court on Aug. 8, Velishek claims Will began harassing her in 2015 when they both served as City Council members. Velishek said the harassment stopped for a period and started again in November 2018 and continues today.

Velishek claims in her petition that Will harassed her during the past 10 months via text and email, verbally and in person and made attempts to meet with her both alone and with city staff present.

Velishek also accuses Will of pointing in her face, using abusive language, making sexual comments and, in one instance, placing a hand on his gun in 2015 in her presence. In the affidavit, Velishek said she fears for her life and experiences anxiety when entering any place Will may be present.

Velishek and Will declined to comment. The petition is the latest step in a long-running conflict between Velishek and Will, who have traded accusations of misconduct.

Velishek's petition is for a two-year restraining order. The request asks that Will be prohibited from having contact with Velishek and stay away from her house, her workplace in the Twin Cities and the Jordan Food Shelf, where she volunteers.

If approved, the potential restraining order's effect on Velishek and Will's ability to govern together on the council is unclear. Will has not appeared at a city council meeting since Aug. 5.

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