Todd Epsten Quits Police Board After Losing Presidency to Bettye Battle-Turner

May 20, 2010 at 7:32 am
click to enlarge Epsten is out, Battle-Turner is in.
Epsten is out, Battle-Turner is in.
In a move that could only happen in the backward world of St. Louis politics, the president of the Board of Police Commissioners was unceremoniously stripped of his title yesterday at a public meeting. Moments after losing the post, Todd Epsten resigned from the board and walked out of the room.

Epsten, whose day job is CEO of liquor distributor Major Brands, had served as president of the board for the past year and was expected to continue leading the commission for another year. But in a surprise move, two new board members voted to replace Epsten with Bettye Battle-Turner, a private attorney, who has sat on the board for a year. The shakeup was widely seen as a power play at the behest of Gov. Jay Nixon, who controls the St. Louis police board in a structure that dates back to the Civil War. The coup drew sharp criticism from Mayor Francis Slay.

Speaking to the Post-Dispatch, Slay said: "There was no reason to remove Todd. What's happened is politics at play. Now all of the board members are appointed by the governor. Hopefully he will take responsibility and accountability for what happens now."

Epsten was the last board member appointed under former Gov. Matt Blunt.

Nixon's office declined to comment on the shakeup other than send out a statement thanking Epsten for his service. Epsten's resignation now gives Nixon even more control of the police board, as he'll now have to nominate someone to replace Epsten on the board.