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False Alarm on Comment Cards for Brentwood Aldermanic Meetings

A proposal to use comment cards in Board of Aldermen meetings were in five of the weekly city administrator’s reports.

It seems the concern about residents needing to fill out comment cards before speaking in a Board of Aldermen meeting was unfounded.

It was reported that City Administrator Bola Akande had made the suggestion.

In the Aug. 20 Board of Alderman meeting, mayor Pat Kelly said they won’t be used in Board of Aldermen meetings.

“I don’t like them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

He said the Public Safety Committee had started using comment cards, and City Administrator Bola Akande took the initiative to propose using them for Board of Aldermen meetings.

Alderwoman Cindy Manestar, by email on Wednesday, said the suggestion was included in the weekly (every Friday) city administrator’s report for five consecutive weeks, 7/20, 7/27, 8/3, 8/10 and 8/17.

"If this was something that was never, ever being considered, then why was it included in five different reports?" she said.

Manestar read the text of the comment card idea in the Aug. 20 meeting, and also sent it to Patch:

"Citizen Request /Comment Cards: At the request of Alderman Wynn, staff has developed a "Citizen Request/Comment Card which was used at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday, July 19 and will be used going forward. Given the comments we heard during the "Public Comments" about speakers not wanting to give their address, this card will allow us to have their address and in writing their comments before the meeting starts. Octavia Pittman would collect the forms prior to the start of the meeting and we would hand them over to Mayor Kelly.  Other committees could also adopt usage of this form.  The attachment shows what the generic speaker card would look like for the Board of Aldermen meeting. Please let me now if you have any questions."

"I interpreted this to mean that these comment cards were intended to take the place of the public, speaking at the podium," Manestar said in her email. "I assumed this would be discussed and the "generic speaker card" would then be modified for the BOA meetings."

Kelly said he never paid attention to the mentions of comment cards in the weekly reports.

“When it was suggested to me, whether we even wanted to consider comment cards I said no, and that was the end of it,” Kelly said.

Alderwoman Maureen Saunders said she understood what Kelly was saying, but the problem was that it was in the weekly reports, and she was hearing from residents that they don’t like it.

“It’s almost like you made the decision and it’s ended, but it kept coming through the reports,” she said. “You could see where it could produce a little bit of anxiety.”

Alderman Lee Wynn, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, took full responsibility.

"I’m the one who started the comment cards," he said. "It’s all me. It’s mine."

He said he started using them in his committee meetings because he likes time to consider a question rather than needing to answer it on the spot. He said he can give a fuller answer that way, and that it’s not to prevent anybody from speaking.

“It’s only my committee,” Wynn said. “As far as I’m concerned, we don’t have to do it (in Board of Aldermen meetings.) Please don’t put the blame on anybody else but me.”

Read related articles in Maplewood-Brentwood Patch:

CHERYL EMERY August 23, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I would have to agree with Maureen Saunders regarding the comment cards. They should not be used for ANY meetings. If Mr. Wynn is unable to answer questions at the time they are asked, maybe it is time for him to step down from his position within our city government. I have no personal issues with Mr. Wynn, but he seems to be having difficulties fulfilling his duties as alderman.
Mr. Completely August 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Is anyone tracking the repeated instances, some going back 25 years, (no-show firefighters overtime) some as recent as yesterday , (Comment cards on the agenda) of things that just “appear” out of the sky in Brentwood and end up as agenda items or worse as law. I mean you can’t make it up. We’re racing to adopt a new “employee manual” (which isn’t even close to an accurate description of the document and its potential impact on Brentwood) and when someone asks on whose authority are we doing this the city manager says: some former aldermen asked me to do it. Really, how about some names and a paper trail to back this up. Ask the mayor the same thing, his reply: “oh, it wasn’t me”. Seriously, every week there is another example of these mysterious, phantom actions or issues that the city jumps into and nobody knows who, what, where or why. There needs to be a record of this nonsense so at election time we can provide voters with a pamphlet outlining this mysterious governing by accident.. Who approved 250K worth of health insurance premiums for part time aldermen? “ I don’t know, wasn’t me.” Who asked for an RFP on that guys land ? ”I don’t know wasn’t me.” Gimme a break!
jeanne e braddock August 24, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Good point Mr Completely...another issue that has popped up lately is moving city offices. Does anyone realize how much money this would cost? people running the brentwood are spending money like it is growing on trees! what is going on here?
Thomas Gibson August 24, 2012 at 11:26 AM
A total lack of control Jeanne. Been that way for years. We citizens have made the mistake of trusting our elected officials. Yes, i am guilty of this, no more. I will vote against all of them now. Time for a change.
Russell Madden August 27, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Like Mr. Gibson, I, too, was complacent and trusting for too many years. I never suspected the improper firefighters' bonuses. I had no idea Chris Seemayer was stealing our tax dollars to fund casino gambling sprees. I had no clue Pat Kelly was taking our tax dollars and giving them to religious charities of his choosing, nor did I know he ordered that "Mayor Pat Kelly" cornerstone for the new fire station without legal authority -- without aldermanic approval. I'd like to know how much that silly act of vanity cost us. And I sure wish I could take back some of my city election votes, most notably the one that lengthened the mayor's term from 2 years to 4. (I wish to apologize to all of my fellow residents for that blunder!) I'm complacent and trusting no more and eager to sweep the remaining bums out.

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