John Flores, the top official of Orange County's largest anti-poverty program, has unexpectedly submitted his resignation to the Community Development Council board.
Flores resigned from the $40,000-a-year job as executive director last Friday with no explanation, said Jim Hamlett, a council spokesman.
However, board member Arturo Moreno said the board has not yet accepted the resignation. It is expected to discuss the issue at a meeting next Wednesday.
Flores could not be reached for comment.
Operating with a $3-million annual budget, the council's mission is to provide vital services, including free food, transportation and health services, to about 140,485 Orange County residents whose income is below the poverty level.
The agency, which marked its 20th anniversary last year, has suffered a stormy history of high staff turnover, fighting among board members and accusations of mismanagement.
In March, 1984, the state Office of Economic Opportunity, one of the council's sources of money, took the unusual step of closely monitoring the search for an executive director, the job Flores got.
At the time, state officials said the monitoring was prompted by a succession of three executive directors at the Santa Ana-based agency in seven months, including an acting director who left amid charges of mismanagement and misuse of funds.
Hamlett said that Flores, 41, who has seven months left on a two-year contract, apparently has exercised an option in the contract that allows him to quit. He was hired May 7, 1984.
Flores' decision surprised many board members, who expressed regret.
"I called him today and told him I was sick to hear the news," board member Michael Elias said. "As far as he's concerned, he has resigned. As far as I'm concerned, we haven't accepted his resignation."
Others who had spoken with Flores said his decision wasn't prompted by a desire for more money. "He didn't have another job lined up," said a board member who requested anonymity.
In recent weeks, Flores had expressed displeasure with the bickering among board members. That bickering had resulted, in part, from a letter an employee had written to the board extremely critical of Flores' management. That employee eventually left the agency, council sources said.
But Flores has been credited with turning the agency around.
"The Community Development Council was going bankrupt before we got John to work for us," Elias said. "We were paying high rents and had lots of financial problems. He helped turn that around."