Anyone involved in hiring people learns to scrutinize resumes for unexplained gaps. In the case of mayoral candidate Bob Edwards, the gap between when he left the Michigan legislature and when he landed in Payson approximates 27 years, with perhaps a five-year interval in the 1990s when he was director of the Michigan Employment Security Commission (MESC).
In an early January meeting, I asked him what he did during this gap. His terse response was "real estate development."
"Commercial?" I asked.
"No, residential," he answered and went no further.
For someone who has spent most of the past three decades in that line of business and thinks Payson's real estate development is "out of control," he seemed remarkably guarded, but we moved on.
Now, more information has surfaced. Among other issues (including various unexplained court cases), are stories from Michigan's major newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, around the time of his appointment to the MESC position. The headlines capture the issues:
March 7, 1991 -- "Allegations haunt MESC head; ex-employees say Edwards avoided paying taxes."
April 30, 1991 -- "MESC clears its director of violation of tax rules."
Sept. 22, 1992 -- "Labor official to repay ex-worker; dispute similar to others in which he withheld wages for benefits."
While MESC commissioners cleared Edwards of violating unemployment insurance rules at his Flint real estate management business, there appeared to be other unresolved matters. For example, the March 7 article stated, "... his real estate management business has been ordered to pay $157,000 for defaulting on its obligations ... (and he) is being sued by a business partner who accused him of negligence in managing the real investment partnership."
To date, Edwards has angrily dismissed questions about these matters as "a smear campaign." Similarly, at Tuesday night's otherwise excellent Candidate Forum, he used the same language to attack the Payson Patriot, evidently for its commentary on Edwards' belated voter registration in Payson (August of last year) and its analysis of his voting record on various issues as a Michigan legislator.
As a seasoned politician, Edwards should know that questions like these are not "a smear campaign." They are legitimate questions and require candid, clear answers. To deserve being hired by Payson citizens to lead this town, Edwards needs to be a lot more forthcoming. His character is at issue, and character does count.
Don Crowley, Payson