Second Zoo Museum District board member resigns in less than a year | St. Louis Public Radio

Second Zoo Museum District board member resigns in less than a year

Mar 9, 2015

Zoo Museum District board member Robert Powell has resigned because of connections with two subdistricts.

“After reflecting on it, I just thought I should resign and not belabor this issue,” said Powell.

His resignation came after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on previously undisclosed conflicts of interest involving Powell. In October, Portfolio Gallery Executive Director Powell told the board that last year the St. Louis Art Museum had compensated Powell for art events. The museum underwrote breakfast foods and Powell said he did not personally benefit from the exchange. In 2006, Powell received a consulting fee from the Missouri Botanical Garden for a trip to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. 

Powell is the second ZMD board member to resign in just under a year following Pat Whitaker’s resignation in April.  Board Member Charles Valier has long been a champion of stricter ethics in the ZMD. He said this behavior is unacceptable for the board.

“We simply cannot act impartially on the tax rates for these districts if at the same time we’re doing business and getting paid for it,” said Valier. “It’s inconceivable to me that anybody would consider doing that.”

Valier produced a memo dated Friday March 6, 2015 condemning the board for a continued lack of knowledge regarding it's members actions and recommended that Powell step down.

Valier Memo - Robert Powell (Disclosure of Ethical Violations) by St. Louis Public Radio

Board President Thelma Cooke was unreachable for comment. 

In an interview, Powell did not express distress over the resignation. Powell expressed the hope that his resignation will allow him to work toward creating an African-American arts organization capable of joining the ZMD in the future. 

“After reflecting, nine years was probably enough time on that,” said Powell.