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Brentwood Aldermen Agree to 'Consider' Legal Action Against Chris Seemayer

A vote in last night's meeting made it possible to put the discussion on the agenda of a future meeting. Seemayer's pension, when he reaches 60, is what's at stake.

Close to a hundred residents were ready for something to go their way at the board of aldermen meeting last night.

They got it at the very end, when alderwoman Maureen Saunders made a motion in an almost “oh by the way” fashion, in the meeting at the Brentwood Recreation Center.

“And another thing,” she said, after agreeing to a time change for a joint ward meeting, “In listening to the residents, I am going to go ahead and make a motion that this board pursue civil action against Chris Seemayer.”

When Seemayer was found guilty last year of embezzling $30,000 from the city of Brentwood to pay gambling debts, he was allowed to resign instead of being fired, making it possible for him to get sick and vacation pay, and receive an almost $36,000 a year pension, to begin when he reaches 60.

In public comments, residents told the board how they felt about , spending up to $40,000 on a new car for the city administrator, raising the sewer lateral fee from $40 to $50 a year, overpaying firefighters for overtime in the past, paying city employees more that what comparable cities pay, and the fountain on Eager Road that requires $20,000 a year to maintain.

Resident Barry Williams launched into how the board let Seemayer leave the city after being convicted.

“Instead of firing (Seemayer) and trying to recoup the taxpayers’ money we did the opposite. You did. You did,” he said. “This body did the opposite.”

“At a time when our fiscal situation is not good, it’s hard to explain how this city is not trying to get that money back,” he said. “We need that money.”

He said the city can’t recoup the sick and vacation pay, but the pension can be stopped.

“I really would like to see this city launch a civil law suit,” Williams said. “He is not getting any of that pension.”

Mayor Pat Kelly defended how the city handled Seemayer.

“At the point he was arrested, of the $30,000, he had already paid back $15,000,” Kelly said. “As part of the settlement he paid an additional $15,000 to reimburse the city for all the funds he had taken, at which time he also gave up around half of his accrued vacation and sick leave days in order to cover our legal expanses.”

There was no ‘old business,’ so Saunders made her motion to pursue legal action against Chris Seemayer in ‘new business.’

After it was seconded, Kelly said it was a legal action that needed to be discussed later in executive session, and couldn’t be voted on in the public meeting.

City attorney Frank Albrecht said it couldn’t be discussed in the executive session because the agenda had already been set.

Alderman Andy Leahy suggested altering the motion, making it 'considering' pursuing legal action, which meant that if passed, the discussion could be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

It passed with a “yes” from every alderman, followed by applause from the residents.

Also in Patch:

Embarrassed September 11, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Well, Mr. Completely, I certainly hope that fighting fire with fire doesn't mean absconding with City funds. I understand your points and share your frustration. However, as an elected official, Alderperson Saunders needs to be held to a higher standard than the pot-stirring tactics that worked when she was a private citizen. For government to work, those chosen to serve us must prove -- every day -- that they understand and advocate for the electorate's concerns. If you insist that the City's business is done with decorum, rather than throwing up your hands at the idea, I think you'll see that more actual City business is conducted. Today, I fear that Alderperson Saunders is simply running up the City's bill to run down her disorganized and paranoid agendas.
Maureen Saunders September 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Petition for state audit, ended the elected officals healthcare benefits, made sure the library board understood the implications of taking 20 instead of the proposed 30 cents, requested a compensation survey ( since before I took office) so we can look at the largest cost item in our budget, met with city's financial advisor to discuss PILOTs funds and interest savings, asked the city to report back to the residents the finding of their recreation survey not bad for 5 months in office. I'm still learning but I need good information, which the city is reluctant to provide, to make sound decisions. I'm tired of being told play nice. This isn't play it's work. I am nice and I always play and work smart. The residents in Brentwood are very knowlegeable and if you listen to them you might just learn something. Give it a try.
Shelly Mitchell September 11, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I have it on very good authority (and when the Library Board approves their minutes, will confirm) that Ms Saunders did NOT want the Library to roll their tax rate back, that she, in fact, interrupted the Library Board’s meeting to prevent them from voting to decrease the taxes because she believed she could, wrongly, move money from their account to the City’s coffers! When she realized this wasn’t legally possible because the Library is a separate taxing district, she played the hero! (See her quote in Minor’s article of September 7.) The fact that Doug Minor was also at the Library board meeting and reported nothing about her blatant money grab, demonstrates he’s just another of Maureen’s tools. Ms Saunders decries we need more transparency yet she’s quite selective about where she (and her followers) shine the light!
Embarrassed September 11, 2012 at 03:16 PM
You are not nice, as seen during your public character assassinations. As for needing more information, why not wait until you're more well-informed before reaching a conclusion? I realize you're a rookie Alderperson, but you're still using Citizen Saunders tactics. We need solutions not irate descriptions of problems and baseless (uninformed) accusations.
Embarrassed September 11, 2012 at 03:20 PM
If that's true, you need to offer up some proof. I know we just approved a tax increase for the library but I (and the other voters) assumed that was for the library, not to fill in the City's coffers. I wasn't in attendance at the Ways and Means meeting but I don't see anything in the minutes about leveraging that tax increase for other purposes. Was that an approved approach?
Lynn September 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Shelly please stop before you really embarrass yourself, you could not be more wrong. Alderman Saunders kept the Mayor and our Library Chair from increasing our tax to 30 cents. Before you make a fool of yourself look into the 11% TIF tax that was suppose to come off, but the Mayor and our Library Chair would have replaced with the library tax going from 15 to 30 instead of 15 to 20. In the end yolu saw that she received the support of other Aldermen on this topic.
Karen Smith September 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Many thanks to Doug Minor and other writers at the Patch. I appreciate your reporting. You have been most helpful in sharing issues and points of view which is what a democracy is all about -- freedom of speech. If it weren't for your reporting, many of us would not be as informed. Thank you.
Karen Smith September 11, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Embarrassed were you at the BOA meeting last night? It is difficult for me tell from your comment. I was there and there was equal discussion from both sides. There were numerous, constructive comments regarding the resereves as well as other topics. I am wondering if your concerns come from being used to seeing the "city operate as it has always done business" which does not allow for much discussion or input and is largely driven by a "few individuals". And, whenever anyone does have a diferent point of view or asks questions because they want to learn more, they are labaled: "vocal minority" or "cabal of sycophants". I personally have been called all sorts of names over the last 15 years by current and past alderpersons and mayors. So I have to disagree with your comments regarding Alderperson Saunders. I think she has treated residents, staff and elected officials with respect. Have you been to recent BOA meetings where other members of the Board have treated her disrespectfully. Or, the recent Library Board meeting?
Karen Smith September 11, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Let's see, how do we build our reserves by not raising taxes: - Redirecting the firefighter overtime pay to reserves - Redirecting the TDD administrative fees to reserves - Redirecting expenses related to the golf tournament to reserves - Redirecting aldermanic benefits and pension to reserves And this is just what we know about. I am sure there is more. Also, do a "zero based budget" which means every Department starts with "0" and has to justify every penny. That means looking at every cost (e.g. travel, cost of living plus merit plus longevity plus attendance increase) and redirecting savings to reserves. There is no excuse for our reserves not be amongst the strongest in the region given the amount of retail that we have. We just haven't been focused on it..but now is the time.
Bill McKenzie September 11, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Why won't some commentators leave their names? This really undermines my confidence in what they have to say. What are you hiding for? Why should we take you seriously?
RDBet September 11, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Can anything be gained at this point by considering action against Seemayer? My understanding is pensions are protected by laws that alderpersons can not change. I could be wrong though. Of course, I am unhappy with the theft by Seemayer, and sometimes wonder what sort of chicanery went on with the developers that were given a lot of latitude (and TIFs) with our limited space in Brentwood. Nevertheless, how long are we going to live in the past on these topics? What went on with the firefighter's pay was wrong. However, I am happy with our fire and ambulance protection overall and view it as a community asset. Police. Library - that is the same way. Parks. Schools -all good overall....most every aspect of Brentwood has improved over the last dozen years, my opinion, of course. You know, it is possible to have better accountability while having cooperation. Point is, no entity can function properly with the Inquisition paranoia and constant living in the past. Thus, I am glad this board has been stymied in deciding on the direction for the assets of City Hall and Community Center property - because I am pretty sure that the decision would be a poor one, considering the unproductive atmosphere on that Board. Happy Brentwood Days everybody (Maddenfest?)....
Karen Smith September 11, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Good point RDBet..however, one can't move forward until one undesttands its past...otherwise we will be forced to repeat our mistakes. We won't be able to correct the misconduct unless we understand what happened. And alot of what happened related to the misconduct has not been fully explained to the tax payer. So if we go on doing business as usual we will end up with more misconduct By asking that Chris Seemayer be held accountable for his actions, could provide additional funds for reserves.
Karen Smith September 11, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Another source of funds for reserves: There is a different view than the City's version of what has happened with the lawsuit related to Meridian development which will cost the tax payer an additional $4 million. The City has said that we can afford to pay the $4 million and that operations will not be impacted. Since the developer is currently suing (AGAIN), there is an opportunity to re-negotiate the settlement agreement and redirect these funds to reserves.
Embarrassed September 11, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I was. And when the YouTube video from the meeting is posted, let's see how much equal discussion there was vs. your memory of the events. To answer your question, I see the City as a mechanism for delivering on the will of the people. Despite its well-publicized problems (which are pretty small in light of some big picture thinking), I believe the Mayor, the City Administrator and most of the Alderman have the citizens' interests at heart. The only time I see people getting shouted down is when Alderwoman Saunders was doing it as Citizen Saunders. I respectfully disagree with your characterization of her treatment. I watched her abuse other City employees last night. Watch the video when its posted and see if you can, with a straight face, consider her diatribe against the library director and others "respectful." I have seen her treated badly, primarily when she's being abusive herself. Regardless, Alderwoman Saunders -- as is the rest of the Board -- is held to a higher standard. Tit for tat is not an acceptable excuse.
Embarrassed September 11, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Hi Bill, I'm uncomfortable using my real name because Citizen Saunders has a well-known practice of attacking her detractors.
Bill McKenzie September 11, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Embarrassed: Then why not leave your name and let the rest of us see her in action? This would reveal her for all to see.
Karen Smith September 11, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Embarrassed, I don't want to drop to your level of name calling..I guess we will have to respectfully agree to disagree. I thought Alderperson Saunders explained the facts as she understood them. She also read a comment that she made regarding the Library Board which was very complimentary of their work. There were alot of figures being presented last week related to the proposed tax rates. And our Alderpersons should ask questions so they understand the issues and can make an informed decision about how to vote. There was a lot of conflicting information being provided. Currenlty, it is still unclear to me what tax rate is being proposed. Please see "Lynn's" comments above. And although I have been called all sorts of names over the years, I willl not hide behind a pseudo name. I am proud of my opinions. I wish that you could be too!
RDBet September 11, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Regarding Seemayer, I am doubtful whether there are any funds to gained from Seemayer, (pensions money is protected, and the gambling problem may mean there is little left). Then it becomes a waste of taxpayer money on legal fees. Again, I could be wrong. Karen - I don't disagree with your sentiment about understanding the past. However, it seems the board is too mired in it, and afraid to move on lest someone else start pointing fingers at them. As mentioned -we see a byproduct already with how the board can't function properly on the rec center/city hall situation - they couldn't even decide on a process for gathering information. I wouldn't doubt that Brentwood will have a hard time finding good candidates to volunteer for various civic boards - considering the atmosphere.
Mr. Completely September 11, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Inquisition paranoia and constant living in the past? No disrespect intended RDB but Brentwood voters have been spoonfed the "Keep our police & fire strong" "Its about family's" "keep your taxes low" "keep our parks clean" for 15 years. Several years ago Kelly sent a campaign flyer around that looked like the Ronald Reagan campaign produced it. Glossy, 4 color, fantastic verbage about parks, low taxes, strong police and fire like he invented it or something. Well all the time we're buying into this brainless campaign there is an absolute mess brewing right under our noses only we don't ask enough questions or demand real answers. Continued>>>>>>>
Mr. Completely September 11, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Brentwood can't move forward under its current leadership, the voters simply won't stand for it. Nobody who has been paying attention to recent antics at city hall could reasonably be expected to "move forward" because there has not been a satisfactory, real world resolution of these serious financial issues. The resolution to both Seemayer and the Firefighters overtime was wrong and done behind closed doors in executive session and people are not happy about rewarding a felon with a pension or a fire chief who presided over a decades long fleecing of city payroll with a pension and going away party. None of us could imagine any other public or private entity handling Seemayer & Firefighters overtime the way Brentwood handled it. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube so these issues will linger on for a long time. If you're waiting for voters to move on, forgive or forget its not gonna happen. Once trust is broken in any relationship, its over.
Dan Harrison September 11, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Lively discussion...love it. Just a couple things, I think DM did a fair job on the article, these events have been a long ongoing affair, and I wouldn't expect a writer to reiterate and give full background of the story every time he pens. What I like is that the updates keep coming. And one thing, maybe its just me, but Embarrassed referring Ms Saunders as Citizen...well she IS a citizen, just like me, and you. She votes, right? I don't refer to public servants as public officials, or law enforcement as Authorities, who also by the way, are citizens. We place trust in these individuals and tether them power, which can be a dangerous thing for some people. The closer Saunders remains to the rest of us the better, in my opinion. As for looking under rocks, leave no stone unturned. This road to rebuilding trust and confidence in our representatives should be thorough, I would guard against any a hasty "nothing more to see here, move along" attitude. Cleaning up is a dirty business, and takes time.
TOOWARM September 11, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I commend Alderperson Saunders for continuing her crusade. What us residents have always needed is a good barking dog on the Board to let US know when something smells.. It is not her role to offer one person solutions.... It is the Boards job to remedy. After Kelly, etc, are voted out, unfortunately.
Maureen Wheat September 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM
@Embarrassed: The title "alderman" may be new to involved parties. However, the realities are clearly articulated. Members of City Hall (anywhere) who are FAILING to represent the global interests of those electing them---should be called to offer a rationale response. Is your question related to the actions of the City of Brentwood Administrative procedures? Or are you offended at an objection to the 'fact-finding' interventions ("public character assignation") posed by open ended questions. Follow up, is you position in anyway influenced some perceived error of historical statements of factual (audit-driven), detailed accounting or closet (non-public, non-litigated as challenged- documentation of presented information? To be clear, I am only looking for Truthful, independently justifiable expenditures using TAX PAYERS MONEY. love, maureen (edited for punctuation.)
Maureen Wheat September 13, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I am not an attorney--it seems that all the profits and benefits associated with a criminal act (should the acts be adjudicated and found to be criminal) would be frozen from the (now found) guilty principle and returned to the City? I have no ill will for anyone in this unfortunate situation. I just think if the financial abuse was used to fund brothel parties, instead of alleged gambling debts, this distinction would be more prominent in the eyes of the tax payers. Should criminal activities be proved in illegal diversion of tax funds to cover personal debts, then all benefits and pensions (promised with proper fulfillment of the original job task) should go back to the City. I may be incorrect, but would like to know "how"?
Maureen Wheat September 13, 2012 at 03:03 PM
(line 3) should read "principal..."
RDBet September 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Found this on the internets -from the MO State Retirement system info. I think the key word is "elected' official. Still unclear on non-elected. Not an attorney here either. Legal costs should be a consideration with this civil action. Forfeiture of Service ?104.1084.8 Any elected state official convicted of a felony committed in connection with his/her duties as an elected state official will forfeit any credit for service rendered on or after August 28, 1999.
Geoff Peterson September 14, 2012 at 01:51 AM
How about a fun activity to unite all Brentwoodians and solve the low cash reserve problem? How about a "Maddenfest Dunk-the-Alderman Booth"? Uh, and "Alderwomen" too. "Alderpersons"? "Alderpeople"? Da*n political correctness...
Geoff Peterson September 14, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I can understand why others dislike commenters using pseudonyms, but you, Doug, work for an organization (The Patch) that allows such aliases, and you shouldn’t criticize anyone who does so.   On the other hand, you seem to be comfortable with Mr. Completely’s comments and have even complimented him on his contributions.  (My apologies to Mr. Completely if that is your real name.)   Perhaps we should follow Doug’s lead regarding Mr. Completely’s comments:  Evaluate and praise or criticize anyone’s comments for the worthiness of their content, rather than immediately prejudging based on the moniker that the Patch lets them choose.
truthwillprevail September 15, 2012 at 03:06 PM
The point I was really trying to make is this....information is very powerful and is a tool that can be used in a positive manner or can be used to destroy. It is just interesting to note the difference in style and overall tone in stories that are covered in the Post-Dispatch vs the Patch. For example, www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/brentwood-to-end-health-insurance-for-elected-officials/article_b9383f46-cfc6-11e1-8640-0019bb30f31a.html I have just noticed a trend over the past couple of months (by following both publications), that the Patch tends to be biased by something. It concerns me that information is being thrown around in a way that is many times taken out of context or is not presented in a more unbiased fashion. I think all Brentwoodians deserve to have as much information and as many flyers sent to them as possible. I would just like to see the information not sensationalized.....it is difficult to tackle real problems when facts are skewed and emotions take over. There are great things happening in Brentwood and the potential for even greater things in the future. It just saddens me that it appears that in the name of "transparency", there seems to be a group that only want to look at certain practices or promote some type of vendetta. I can be more understanding of this on an individual basis (since all individuals have the right to believe and act as they choose), but feel like the press should be held to a higher standard.
Geoff Peterson September 17, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Well, it looks like the Library's website posted the most recent meeting minutes (http://brentwood.lib.mo.us/node/1725). Not sure how to frame those minutes in context of the contradicting allegations in this thread, the Library tax article thread and the Board of Alderman and Ways and Means minutes. Anyone care to take a stab at it? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

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