Brentwood's Elected Official Insurance Ends
Kelly defended the city-paid benefit and himself in an acrimonious meeting where he was told more than once to resign.
The Brentwood Board of Aldermen voted Monday night to end city-paid health care for elected officials, a benefit that has been maligned by many residents and one vocal alderwoman. The decision follows exposure from Fox 2 News, including an interview with Mayor Pat Kelly at City Hall.
The motion by Alderwoman Maureen Saunders passed in a 4-3 vote minus Alderman Andy Leahy, who recused himself and stormed out of the room saying his vote would be “tainted.”
There was some back-and-forth between Leahy and Saunders, but it wasn’t clear what Leahy meant by the word.
“It’s just a shame they didn’t end (the health insurance benefit) at the beginning, when we knew we didn’t have the appropriate means to authorize it," Saunders said after the meeting. "It states in our code and in state statute that you’re supposed to vote on compensation, and benefits are part of compensation."
City administrator Bola Akande said the benefit has been paid through August, after which it will end for affected aldermen.
Cindy Manestar, Maureen Saunders and Patrick Toohey were told that the benefit was being phased out and that they couldn’t take part as new aldermen. Saunders made her motion on the condition that the insurance would be available to all elected officials or none of them.
Brentwood Rec Center discussion
The meeting began with a discussion of the Brentwood Recreation Center.
The most popular use of the space would be as a multipurpose fitness space and gymnasium, and as a swimming pool, said Reed Voorhees of Cannon Design. He referenced findings of a survey of 645 Brentwood residents conducted by his firm. Reed also said the recommendation is to remove the existing building and build a new facility.
“There (were) some pretty vocal people supporting ice, but often when we would query people in these meetings, the large number of them weren’t even from Missouri,” he said.
Alderman Tom Kramer said the existing building is falling apart and insurance may be harder to get because of that unless the city moves forward with a plan. Saunders said there is not an emergency, and she encouraged the aldermen not to abandon their vision of what is best. She said she wants to see drawings before she votes.
Kelly agreed but said aldermen still need to move forward.
“Ultimately, whatever plan we put together, whether it’s a bond issue or not, it’s the voters who will approve it,” he said.
Alderman Keith Robertson said board members all know people in the community and need to come up with something to present to them rather than doing any more surveys.
“If everyone in the room starts smiling and says that’s great, then we know" we’re on the right track, he said.
Public comments: Pat Kelly needs to resign
Of the eleven residents who spoke in the first public comment session, six called for Kelly to step down.
Julie Pozo told Kelly she’s lost faith and trust in him, and she called for him to step down.
Mark Wilson wanted to know how each of the aldermen stood on health insurance and other Brentwood part-time employees.
“For the sake of the community, please resign immediately,” he said to Kelly, a comment that prompted applause from the audience.
Kay Scott Boyd said Brentwood is becoming a cross between two movies: Mutiny on the Bounty and The Titanic.
“To me, you are Mayor Kelly Blythe,” she said.
Boyd’s daughter, Katherine Boyd, said her senior year in college has been put into question because her parents can’t afford for pay for health insurance.
“How do you deserve it when I can’t even get it?” she asked the council.
Barry Williams spoke about the mayor and alderman of Ladue. He said they do their jobs for no compensation and added that Kelly should step down.
Kelly responds to criticism
“I am very proud of the service I’ve given to this community," Kelly said. "People take things and they twist them, then they misunderstand and automatically think the worst."
He began by denying that he knew about Chris Seemayer taking money before the investigation into the former city administrator. He said it wasn’t until the police chief called him on Ash Wednesday of last year that he knew about it.
Then Kelly vented against commenters on Maplewood-Brentwood Patch.
“I’m up here facing you,” he said. “Where are the people who are writing the stuff on Patch? They’re turning our city into a joke. If I have a problem, I try to solve it and resolve it. I don’t try to go out and try to find blame and criticize people.”
He said they have their own agenda and turn things around for how it fits them best.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m not resigning,” he said. “I have too much respect for the city. I have too much respect for the board, and I have too much respect for the citizens who elected me.
“There’s nobody that’s going to question the love that I have for this community and the effort that I put into it,” Kelly said, his voice raising and cracking. “And you can do whatever you want, but I love this community and I’ve never done anything that I thought was illegal. Period.”
Also in Maplewood-Brentwood Patch:
- Brentwood Residents, Mayor on "You Paid For It" Wednesday at 9 p.m.
- Brentwood Residents Talk with 'You Paid For It Reporter' About Health Insurance
- Saunders takes Aim at Health Insurance Perk
- Insurance for Brentwood's Mayor, Aldermen: Will it Continue?
- KMOV Interviews Mayor Kelly on City-Paid Health Insurance for Elected Officials
- Health Insurance for Brentwood's Elected Officials Prompts Questions
- Brentwood Officials' Health Insurance: Residents Speak, Kelly Responds, Saunders Makes a Motion