Code Red

The bleeding won't stop. The city health director's job remains a revolving door as Dr. Hugh Stallworth is vanquished in a fierce bureaucratic battle.

Adds Kurz: "Don't get a scapegoat so everybody feels better, that's not the answer here. And if you go that route, and the media on occasion goes that route, it's not going to help us."

At an April 16, 2004, board meeting, Rita Kirkland pushed the board to use its closed executive session to a greater degree, a move she said was justified after a meeting at the Office of the City Counselor.

Lee Liberman challenged this view. "I think we need our own lawyer, somebody that represents us. Rita is wonderful, but she represents the mayor."

Joe Keylon
"It was a bad, bad scene": Dr. Hugh Stallworth tried to 
heal St. Louis' ailing health department.
"It was a bad, bad scene": Dr. Hugh Stallworth tried to heal St. Louis' ailing health department.

The board is now deliberating about when to begin the search for yet another health-department director.

When Liberman raised the question of when the search should get under way, some advisory members said the board wouldn't be ready until other key issues are resolved, such as the fate of the STD clinic and the location of the department's new home.

Said Sister Brucker: "I don't think any intelligent human being is going to walk into something like this -- not knowing what's going on."

Liberman replied, "An intelligent human being came in and left."

In March Hugh Stallworth found a new job as health director in Monterey County, California. He says he's pleased with the new post, happy to work in a place where his credentials and experience are appreciated, in an environment where he thinks he can accomplish something.

"But clearly," Stallworth says of St. Louis, "I left a lot undone which I continue to agonize over. I learned a long time ago that you don't want to wrestle with a pig, and the reason is you both get dirty. But the difference is that the pig likes it. There are a number of things that happened while I was in St. Louis, and most of them will probably remain between my wife and I."

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