Disabilities board member resigns as Johnson ousted; Tidd is new chairman

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dory Johnson was removed Tuesday night as chairwoman of the Cape Girardeau County Board for Developmental Disabilities, a vote that was followed by the resignation of one board member and another saying she was seriously considering following suit.

In an election that was preceded by no board comment on the matter, Larry Tidd beat out Johnson on a 3-2 vote in which both nominees abstained. Board member Jeff Baer, who recently has been accused of conflict of interest in his role as treasurer, was voted in as vice chairman by acclimation when no other member was nominated for the post. Member Ruth Ann Dickerson was elected treasurer.

Following the meeting, which drew no comment from a crowd of about 20, member Delores Watson tendered her handwritten resignation to Cape Girardeau County Commissioner Jay Purcell, and Arlysse Popp said she probably will resign, too.

"Why belong to a board that accuses our chairman of blackmail and things she did not do?" said Popp, who nominated Johnson to be re-elected. "There's no reason for me to be on the board now."

Popp said her blackmail comment was in reference to a letter written by Tidd that was printed to the Southeast Missourian. In the letter, Tidd said that Johnson uses "such tactics as innuendo, character assassination, threats, blackmail, stonewalling and public opinion to serve her agenda."

Johnson recently had suggested that Baer's role as treasurer was a conflict of interest. Baer, a Jackson accountant, has denied any conflict from conducting board business with clients of his Jackson-based accounting firm because he said he never directly profited from those transactions. Former board member Bryan Noack also recently resigned when Johnson suggested it was a conflict of interest for Noack to serve on the board while also working as the executive director of the Perry County disabilities board.

"I have worked hard to get more for the developmentally disabled in Cape County," Popp said. "I knew that vote was all set and dried before the vote even happened. I think Dory did an excellent job. She listened to everybody and she wasn't one-sided. I'm just not sure I want to be on that board anymore."

Watson could not be reached to comment on her resignation, though Purcell said in a telephone interview following the meeting that it was effective immediately.

In other action

During the two-hour meeting, the board mostly met on routine business. Before Johnson was voted out as chairwoman, she addressed a need for bylaws. The board decided to look at two other Missouri counties' bylaws -- Jackson and Boone counties -- and send suggestions from those bylaws to Dickerson, who said she would compile the information and send it back via email. The board members said they would review that information at its August meeting and put it on the agenda then.

The board also heard a proposal from Jackson developer Jim Maevers about a possible new location for its case management office. Johnson had suggested that the board, which is in charge of overseeing taxpayer-funded services for people with developmental disabilities, move from its current office at 902 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jackson to the former Realty Executives building on West Main Street in Jackson. The proposed office is a one-story building, and Johnson said it is easier to navigate for the disabled than the current two-story building. The board heard Maevers' proposal without a vote.

smoyers@semissourian.com

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