On Wednesday, Maplewood-Brentwood Patch published the first half of a Q&A we held with Mayor Pat Kelly.
The two recent financial scandals have left Brentwood residents saddened and embarrassed about their government. And many questions remain unanswered.
(See related on Patch: Brentwood Residents: "I'm Embarrassed." and Overtime Pay Scandal Plagues Brentwood Fire Department)
Maplewood-Brentwood Patch spoke with Mayor Pat Kelly about the scandals, their effect on the city and what Brentwood government must do to regain the residents' trust.
This is the second half of our conversation. The dialogue has been slightly edited for grammar and length.
How do you think this situation will affect Mr. Niemeyer's legacy after 49 years?
Most of our residents that know Chief Niemeyer would believe him, that he didn't feel like he was doing anything inappropriate. He's got a great legacy in the City of Brentwood. I still consider him to be a great friend. And, really, a great citizen for Brentwood. He always worked to try to get the best equipment, the best men, those kinds of things, for our community. That's why we have a good fire department. They can be responsive to the needs of our residents. That's what most people look at in his legacy. He did an outstanding job for the community for 49 years and I would hope that they wouldn't look at this one thing and hold that against him in any way.
Were the three firefighters asked to retire?
I wouldn't say that they were asked to retire. I will tell you the three people that are retiring are Bob Kurtz, the chief and Dave Berkel.
So they weren't asked to retire?
Again, I'm not going to comment on personnel matters, but right.
Mr. Kurtz is going to be drawing a pension from retirement and then he gets a new position with the city. What can you tell us about the building commissioner position?
It's not a new position. It's a position that Bob has actually been working part-time for a number of years. He's really been doing an outstanding job for us. He had talked about doing this a few years ago: retiring and taking on this position. In light of what had taken place here, that's what he decided to do now. I think it's an advantage for the city because he knows the community and he knows the job very well. In his capacity to do it, we've gotten nothing but compliments about the performance within the housing department.
What's the job description of the building commissioner?
His role has been to plan review, inspections of our buildings, issuing permits for construction permits and he would also retain the title as fire marshal, which is one of the things he did under the fire department as well. So he would oversee all those responsibilities. We still have a lot of activity going on in Brentwood. If somebody's going to be remodeling a building, or even moving into a building, they're going to need to bring that up to code. Bob does all those plan reviews and those kinds of things for all of our building permits.
If he was completing this task part-time before, why does it need to be a full-time job now?
We only did it as a part-time job because he was filling in for us. There is enough out there to keep him busy on a full-time basis, it's just that things were slower before. He wouldn't get them done as fast. It was a full-time position for a number of years. At one point, when we were doing a lot of our larger developments, the position was actually held by someone who was a licensed engineer as well. We've scaled it back down from that - we don't need an engineer anymore, but somebody with Bob's expertise in plan review.
Has this situation created or will it create a rift between the fire department and the other city employees?
I don't think so. I think we've got good employees. I would hope that they be professional and realize that no one was trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. They understand the situation and everyone will work to move forward.
Why don't any of these positions—like fire chief or building commissioner—go out as a general job opening?
Bob (Kurtz) had been doing that, so that was a natural fit. In the fire chief's position, I had asked the Public Safety Committee to oversee the selection process for the new chief with the help of our special counsel to start that process. My understanding is, our attorney, Chris Hesse, in starting that process, one of the first people he talked to, as far as helping select someone for the City of Brentwood, was Ted (Jury), and Ted actually indicated that he would be interested in the position. Once that took place, I think the board (Board of Aldermen) felt that that was a good fit because he knows our men, he knows our community. He's also a good friend of Bob Niemeyer's. Our departments, being so close, work together pretty closely. It seemed like a natural fit and a good opportunity for us so the board took advantage of it.
What would you say to the residents who might challenge your appointment of Kurtz?
I hope that, over time, they realize that that's a good decision. I think he's done a great job. Go talk to some of the contractors who've built something recently and see how well we perform in the inspection process and those kinds of things. Contractors like to do business in the City of Brentwood because they know we're efficient, that we do a good job, that we're fair. It's not like that in a lot of cities. We try to work with and encourage those investments and understand that that's important. A lot of other places make that difficult. Bob's professionalism in doing those duties will also be good for the City of Brentwood.
What did he do as assistant chief that he won't do anymore in the new position? What's different about the switch?
He won't be going out on fire calls. The work he did in the day-to-day activities in the fire department. I don't know what all those duties would entail - management of the fire department, as assistant chief.
The first part of the Q&A ran on Wednesday.