The Zoo Museum District’s Thursday meeting was defined by two events: a stymied vote about language for its new code of ethics and a recent audit of the St. Louis Zoo.
Code of Ethics Contention
The continued discussion regarding language for a new code of ethics drew ire from those wanting to include stricter language and members preferring a more relaxed approach. Immediately prior to a vote on which language to forward on to city, county, and board council, board member Gloria Wessels left the meeting.
Instead of voting on a new ethics policy today, the full Zoo-Museum District board repeated conversation held in two prior ethics committee meetings. Three issues remain contentious: whether changes should be applied to sub-districts, what level of financial disclosure is necessary, and how to handle ethics violations.
Board Chair Thelma Cook expressed concern about the handling of violations, once identified.
The Zoo Museum District Ethics Committee remains stretched between two poles. Board member Charles Valier continues to call for an annual disclosure of board member assets while board member Tom Campbell says this disclosure would be an undue burden on ZMD leaders.
Tensions among Zoo-Museum District board members appear to have faded over the last year. The board met Monday to discuss the 2014 subdistrict tax rates, hear reports from committees and the executive director, and discuss past and future business of the board.
Board members -- Robert Lowery appeared by speaker phone and Gloria Wessels was absent -- voted unanimously to approve an 8 cent property tax on behalf of the St. Louis Art Museum and the Zoo. The board voted to approve a 3.99 cent property tax for The Science Center, Botanical Gardens and Missouri History Museum.
The Zoo Museum District’s Ethics Committee met Wednesday to discuss changes to the organization’s code of ethics. Committee members Charles Valier, Ben Uchitelle and Committee Chair Tom Campbell were primarily in agreement. But Campbell and Valier differ over the level of transparency to write into the code.
“Transparency for transparency’s sake doesn’t benefit anyone” said Campbell.
If you live in St. Louis or St. Louis County, you may eventually be able to get discounts at local cultural institutions. That idea was floated Thursday by Zoo-Museum District board member Gloria Wessels.
A member of the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District board is reviving the prospect of a new subdistrict of black arts organizations.
An amendment to House Bill 186, passed by the Missouri legislature in 2005, allows the creation of the African American History Museum and Cultural District. But adding it to the ZMD would have to be approved by popular vote — and an election can cost up to $1 million — so the issue has languished for nine years.