Tatlow resigns from Boone County Family Resources

Thursday, January 10, 2008 | 6:30 p.m. CST; updated 6:30 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Embattled board member Steve Tatlow resigned from his position at Boone County Family Resources on Wednesday, accusing fellow board members of slandering his character and failing to uphold the organization’s bylaws.

A formal hearing to remove Tatlow from the board had been scheduled for next Wednesday. Instead, Tatlow read a one-page resignation letter at Wednesday night’s meeting, expressing his frustration with the organization’s leadership.

“I vehemently deny all of the allegations made against me,” Tatlow said. “However, to continue to dispute these allegations and expect fairness from individuals intent on retaliation for having questioned their conduct is an exercise in futility.”

Boone County Family Resources is a public organization with a nearly $8.5 million annual budget that serves people with developmental disabilities. Board seats are appointed by the Boone County Commission.

Tatlow and other board members have been at odds since June, when he made the first in a series of calls to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to ask for clarification about the Sunshine Law. That prompted other members to begin the process of removing Tatlow for “conduct prejudicial to the good order and efficient operation” of the board.

The formal complaint against Tatlow cited false allegations against the agency and a conflict of interest.

The complaint alleges that Tatlow used his position to intervene on behalf of someone with whom he had a relationship outside the board. Tatlow maintains that event never occurred and that the board has never informed him of whom he is accused of trying to help. Board officials have said they are prevented by health-care privacy laws from disclosing the name.

A series of memos released Nov. 5 and 6 also detailed board members’ complaints against Tatlow.

“He’s not a team player,” an undated memo written by board member Russ Williams says.

Former board member Alison Martin, whose term recently expired, addressed the members in an e-mail dated Nov. 5.

“Mr. Tatlow has not broached any subject nor performed any deed or action that I consider contrary to the good governance of this organization,” Martin wrote. Instead of launching a discourse addressing Tatlow’s concerns, “several individuals greeted Mr. Tatlow with a course of action I can only describe as hostile and ‘bullying,’” she said.

Martin had earlier removed herself from the position of board secretary-treasurer after she learned she did not have the surety bond required by board bylaws and state law.

Many complaints from board members alleged that Tatlow did not follow proper procedure and unnecessarily taxed the staff with extra work. Instead of asking for information from the executive director — which Williams called the proper procedure — Tatlow asked the staff for minutes that were not yet available.

Tatlow had also accused Family Resources officials of placing him on the board of Life and Work Connections, an associated group that pays wages to people with disabilities who are making the transition from school to work. Tatlow said notice of the appointment was part of orientation documents he didn’t receive until months after joining the Family Resources board. Even after his appointment, he said, he was never invited to Life and Work Connections board meetings.

Tatlow also criticized a closed session award of $48,000 to fix the Family Resources building at 1209 E. Walnut St. without outside bidding. Les Wagner, executive director of the agency, said that the proposal received was $2,000 less than the architect’s lowest estimate to repair the roof and that the contractor was willing to begin immediately. Because Watkins Roofing had originally installed the roof and repaired it, the company proposed a price that did not include a contingency for possible overruns.

“I disagree with the statements made, but I’m glad it’s resolved,” board Chairman Bob Bailey said Wednesday after Tatlow finished his speech and left.

Martin said she hopes some good will come from the disagreements between Tatlow and other board members, especially “a wider process in terms of communication and input on different points of view.”

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