Family Resources board proceeds toward member’s removal

Thursday, November 8, 2007 | 6:38 p.m. CST; updated 10:14 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The process to remove member Steve Tatlow from the Boone County Family Resources Board of Directors took a tentative step forward Wednesday night with the distribution of written complaints.

The complaints contained board members’ e-mailed thoughts about how Tatlow’s behavior had been “prejudicial to the good order and efficient operation of the facilities and services” of the board. Left out of the packet were member Alison Martin’s dissent and any response from member Donna Pavlick.

Also online

Morgan Cook’s reporting about the Boone County Family Resources board has sparked conversation on the Public Life blog. The Boone County Family Resources board provided members' complaints against Steve Tatlow. Alison Martin's dissent was not provided by the board but was acquired from Martin by the Missourian.

The written complaints were the first required step in the process for removing a board member under the Missouri law.

A common allegation among the five board members’ complaints is that Tatlow falsely claimed in a call to the Missouri Attorney General’s office to have been appointed, without his knowledge, to the board of directors for Life and Work Connections, Inc. Family Resources Executive Director Les Wagner wrote in a memo that Tatlow was told about his membership on the Life and Work board in a letter Wagner sent on Feb. 28, 2006.

Tatlow said in an interview that he had already been on the Family Resources board for about two months before the date on Wagner’s letter. Tatlow said that no one mentioned Life and Work Connections, Inc., when he was appointed by the Boone County Commission and that it was his understanding he would serve only on the Family Resources board.

Boone County Family Resources serves about 1,200 county residents who have developmental disabilities. It had an annual budget of $7.7 million in 2006. Life and Work Connections, Inc., is a non-profit group affiliated with Family Resources that provides wages for people with disabilities who are making the transition from school to work.

Member C.J. Dykhouse and Wagner both said in their memos that Tatlow tried to use his status as a Family Resources board member to get services for a person who was ineligible. Wagner’s memo said Tatlow’s behavior prompted the person, who cannot be named because of federal privacy regulations, to request services the agency cannot legally provide.

Tatlow disputed that claim as well, saying that he had only sought to help a Family Resources client access resources and that the person sought services on her own.

Among other complaints, member Wanda Marvel wrote that Tatlow’s questions and discussion of board bylaws were “wasting time of all the board and the agency directors as well.”

Russ Williams echoed her concern.

Other members questioned Tatlow’s complaint that he did not receive draft meeting minutes in a timely manner after he asked for them.

Tatlow’s requests for draft minutes have been repeatedly rejected by Family Resources staff members, who said that board policy is to provide them in informational packets several days before meetings, according to e-mail records. The Missouri Sunshine Law, however, says draft minutes “must be provided as soon as possible and no later than the end of the third business day after the request is received.”

The Sunshine Law also states that if for some legitimate reason the draft minutes — even if they’re just the hand-written notes taken in the meeting — cannot be provided, the custodian of records must explain the reason and provide a specific time when they will be delivered.

Before members discussed the complaints about him, Tatlow read a written request that the board try to mediate the dispute rather than seeking to remove him.

“If this process does not have a pre-determined conclusion that mediation would undo, do we not owe this to our community?” Tatlow asked.

A motion for mediation by Tatlow was seconded, but board members struck it down 6 to 2. Martin and Tatlow voted for mediation and Pavlick abstained.

Dykhouse suggested the board reconsider mediation once members have a chance to review the allegations. They will do that at a Dec. 5 meeting, when they will also decide whether to proceed with a formal hearing and a vote on Tatlow’s fate.

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