ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – A member of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District board of directors has resigned after other board members claimed her involvement in a design firm recently awarded a contract from the St. Louis Science Center was a conflict of interest.
Pat Whitaker is the founder and chairwoman of Arcturis, a design and architecture firm that was given a contract to design a new building for the Science Center.
"I want to be perfectly clear that when I became aware that Arcturis, which I no longer manage on a day-to-day basis, was a finalist for a potential contract with the Science Center, I went to the ZMD Attorney," Whitaker wrote in her resignation letter. "I asked for his advice and followed that advice."
Some of her fellow board members have been calling for her to resign, calling the contract a conflict of interest. They also say that Whitaker should not have voted on the tax rate for the science center last month, since her company was on the 'short list' for the project.
The board is in charge of deciding how much money goes to the five cultural institutions it's in charge of. Four of the eight board members are appointed by the mayor, and the other four by the county executive. Whitaker was appointed by County Executive Charlie Dooley.
Dooley says he's now in the process of finding Whitaker's replacement. He released a statement saying Whitaker's resignation is the best decision for everyone, adding, "I know that she sincerely wanted to contribute to the ZMD because she loves this community and she wants to give back."
Some of the other ZMD Directors are now calling on the rest of the board to disclose their business interests to the public so the same thing doesn't happen again.
"If we are going to represent the taxpayers then the taxpayers have a right to require that we are independent, that we're not beholden to our business interests," said ZMD Board of Directors Member Charles Valier.
You can read Whitaker's resignation letter below: