Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Accept the Audit; Our View; Zoo-Museum District Must Get History Museum Issues on the Record

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Accept the Audit; Our View; Zoo-Museum District Must Get History Museum Issues on the Record

Article excerpt

The St. Louis Zoo-Museum District board has one shot at regaining public credibility with regard to its oversight of the Missouri History Museum: It must accept an audit from the district's audit committee.

If the eight-member board continues to wrangle over the audit, with half supporting it and the other half divided, the ZMD not only will lose public trust in its handling of the History Museum contretemps, but it will invite questions about how closely it monitors the four other area cultural institutions under its purview.

The ZMD oversees the distribution of about $72 million annually in taxpayer funds to the five institutions, including about $10 million to the History Museum.

The most important two words in the previous paragraph are these: taxpayer funds.

The audit outlines problems that have engulfed the History Museum for the past couple of months. It is a record of those problems. It does not get in the way of the oh-so-sacred "Danforth Plan," which already has been approved by the museum subdistrict and board of trustees.

The audit offers the commissioners a way to acknowledge problems at the History Museum, get the details on the record and be transparent about the operation and oversight of the museum, both in the past and looking ahead.

The plan that was brokered by former Sen. John Danforth at the request of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley doesn't do that. It simply ignores questions raised about the performance of History Museum President Robert Archibald including a dubious land deal that he negotiated with former Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. That deal is what brought the current level of scrutiny to the museum The nearly $1 million Archibald-Bosley deal in 2005 was brought to light by wait for it an audit. The Danforth Plan has its good points, but its best feature is that it will last only for a year. …

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