Four Brentwood Ward 1 residents received anonymous mailings even more perplexing than the still-unsolved letters in the week before the April 3 aldermanic election.
The purpose of the mailings to the Ward 1 voters seemed clear—don’t vote for Maureen Saunders—though her opponent, Jim Bischoff, wasn’t mentioned in any of them.
But that same week, along with the letters, two additional items arrived via U.S. mail for Maureen Saunders, Cheryl Emery, Julie Pozzo and Barry Williams that puzzled all and frightened some.
On one day, each received a copy of Herman Wouk's novel The Caine Mutiny. The next day, a carefully packaged jar of strawberry jam arrived at each household.
The reasons for sending the book and the jam have puzzled the four recipients. One obvious connection is that all of them supported Saunders in her bid to be alderman.
Emery said the four had different opinions. Some viewed the items as hate mail. Others saw it as a message of support.
“When I read the CliffsNotes from the book, it’s about the captain of a ship who’s incompetent and crazy, so the men took over the ship.” Emery said. “I was taking it that somebody was in support of what were doing wanting us to take over Pat Kelly, who think’s he’s the captain of the city.”
In the book, Captain Queeg keeps strawberries that eventually go missing. Queeg is paranoid before the incident, and that trait becomes even more pronounced as his hunt for the missing strawberries and the culprit continues.
Williams thinks the person who sent the book and jelly supports the four in their efforts.
He’s "reaching out from the shadows and saying, ‘Bravo! You strike me just like the conscientious sailors on the ship who took control when their captain became incapable of governing the ship. Just like citizens taking charge to reclaim control of their city from a captain who is no longer capable of leading—in this case, a mayor.”
Pozzo said it was unsettling to receive the book on one day, then a jar of strawberry jam the next. The book had no return address, and the return address on the jam read "Brentwood Forever" and included a P.O. box number.
“My family was almost frightened by it, wondering what was next,” Pozzo said. “I believe it is more than coincidental that we received the packages and hate mail shortly after the two robocalls,” she said.
Candidate Maureen Saunders said at the time that she didn’t want to talk about the mailings because they were anonymous.
“I was not going to react to that,” she said, “and keep it just between us, because I just didn’t want to give any credence to it because it was anonymous.” She said she might have been quicker to react if the mailings had been threatening. Saunders’ husband, Matt Saunders, did call the , as did Julie Pozzo’s husband, James.
Saunders also received deliveries that no one else did. One was a package of marbles addressed to “Maureen Spearhead Saunders.”
“I don’t know if that meant I was losing my marbles,” she said. “I really don’t know what they were trying to get at, and so I really don’t want to speak for whoever did this, but I just decided not to do anything about it because, once again, it was done anonymously.”
Other deliveries to Saunders were more troubling.
“There was a dead possum out on my porch,” she said. “Did that happen naturally? It was a week before the election.” She said it was a mother possum with babies in its pouch. It appeared as though it might have been poisoned.
She also got a postcard on the Saturday before the election. It bore the initials “JC” and told her to move out of Brentwood.
Maureen Sanders’ husband, Matt, who has , said all the anonymous deliveries are mentioned in his complaint. But he said the ethics commission can’t pursue an investigation into the mailings because none included a message instructing the recipient to vote for Jim Bischoff, Saunders’ opponent in the race.
“The bottom line is the only way this will ever be solved is if Mayor Kelly wants to solve it,” Matt Saunders said. “While the obvious will tell you it was in favor of (Bischoff’s) campaign, the obvious does not work in this case.”
Read other Patch articles on recent Brentwood Ward 1 politics: