Agency chief under fire Some directors seek his ouster

October 01, 1993|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

Dallas Evans, chief executive officer of the Anne Arundel County Economic Opportunity Committee Inc., is under fire from some members of his board of directors who want to oust him.

The committee, also known as the Community Action Agency, oversees a budget of about $3.5 million in public and private funds and a staff of more than 100 who manage the county's Head Start and Senior Aide programs and several smaller ones.

Eleanor Harris, the president, said she hoped to call a board meeting today or Monday to discuss the situation, but would not comment further.

Board members said that Ms. Harris read a statement at a meeting last week alluding to problems with Mr. Evans and that Vice President James Chase called for Mr. Evans' resignation.

Some board members, however, were surprised by the motion and asked for proof of poor performance. Some also felt that Mr. Evans should be given a chance to respond.

Neither Ms. Harris nor Mr. Chase would discuss the case.

Beth Slikker, a board member, said that Mr. Evans did not communicate well with the board.

Another board member, who asked not to be named, said the board also had found fault with the way Mr. Evans fired a worker earlier in the year. That worker was reinstated by the board.

But Mr. Evans' supporters say the complaints are vague and have more to do with Mr. Evans' personality than with his work over the last two years.

"His style of management is quite a bit different from the former management," said the Rev. Ricky Spain, a board member.

Some described that style as businesslike, and others said it could be taken as rude.

Diane Goforth, the board's treasurer, while not commenting specifically on the dispute, noted that the agency's finances are well managed.

Mr. Spain and Sheila Finlayson, another board member, said that Mr. Evans had received a good performance evaluation last June.

"I think there is a royal shaft attempting to occur," said Ms. Finlayson. "He has moved the board light years ahead. He has brought in money we would not have begun to get without him. The Community Action Agency workers have a very positive attitude."

She said the only specific case of poor performance cited against Mr. Evans was an incident in which he missed an appointment with Ms. Harris.

Although some members said they were surprised at the allegations made last week, Ms. Slikker said there had been rumblings of trouble earlier. "There have been three or four issues that have needed to be resolved in the past year," she said.

Board members said that Mr. Evans has been notified of the complaints, but he denied any knowledge of them.

"I can't imagine what they are talking about," he said.

Mr. Evans said that in the two years he has overseen the agency, he has eliminated an operating deficit, installed computers in the offices and increased grant funding.

"Some people might have trouble with change," he said.

Mr. Evans was hired to replace Yevola S. Peters, the agency's third director in its 28 years. Ms. Peters had worked for the agency since 1969 and was its chief executive officer from 1974 until 1991.

Ms. Peters recently was appointed to serve on the board of directors representing the Anne Arundel County Coalition of Tenants. Ms. Peters said she has not been back long enough to evaluate Mr. Evans' performance.

In addition to heading the Community Action Agency, Mr. Evans is chairman of the county's Planning Advisory Board and chairman of The Foundation for the Preservation of Affordable Housing, a group that is developing 194 homes and a park on some of the last vacant land in Annapolis.

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