Brentwood residents used a Board of Aldermen meeting as a platform to share their disappointment with their elected officials on Monday night.
The meeting follows last week's sentencing of former city administrator Chris Seemayer, who from the city from.
The residents were outraged that the , negotiated a settlement with Seemayer to pay him accrued vacation and sick leave pay. The city paid Seemayer nearly $43,000 after his resignation, because he had accrued a sick leave balance of 120 days and a vacation leave balance of 25 days, City Administrator Bola Akande said.
"I don't know how any of you sleep at night," said resident Karen Smith as she stood at a podium before the entire board.
She also accused Hesse of acting as a "shadow government" on behalf of the city. "We don't elect Chris Hesse; we elect all of you," she said.
Mayor Pat Kelly said the city followed legal precedent by giving Seemayer his accrued benefits. He called it an "earned credit," and said the city risked legal action if it didn't release the pay to Seemayer.
Two other residents, Jim Malone and Denise Soebbing, both asked if the circumstances would have been different had Seemayer been fired by the city for his theft. Instead, Seemayer submitted a letter of resignation, and will draw a pension in addition to the other benefits. No answer was given to their question during the meeting.
The city's interpretation of the Missouri Sunshine Law faced scrutiny from the public as well.
"All I ever hear is transparency and accountability," said resident Maureen Saunders, who organized a of the city. "You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to get information here."
She asked that Brentwood hold a public hearing where residents could directly interact with the and Hesse. Her statements were met with a round of applause from those in attendance.
Other residents were upset that Kelly and Ward 3 Alderman Andy Leahy submitted letters to U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry that requested Seemayer be kept out of prison.
Resident Julie Pozzo, another organizer of the petition seeking a state audit, said the leniency was probably granted because of the city's letters.
Leahy said his personal faith led him to his decision.
"For Chris's family... he deserves a little extra kindness," Leahy said.
Leahy could barely finish a sentence without moaning and outright shouting from those in attendance.
He echoed statements made by that said Seemayer's biggest penalty is that he'll never again be hired to work in public affairs.
When Leahy started discussing Seemayer's potential financial hardships, residents began shouting that Seemayer had an annual salary of $130,000 and will draw a pension following his theft.
The interruptions prompted the mayor to silence both sides with his gavel.
The meeting's public comment period lasted one hour and 32 minutes. The mayor started by reading from a prepared statement before 10 different residents took the podium to question the mayor and aldermen who represent them.
Kelly started by that occurred on former city administrator Chris Seemayer's watch. The allegations were previously undisclosed by the city.
The city has weighed the citizens' right to know public business against employee privacy, Kelly said.
"We can agree that this has been an extremely difficult time in Brentwood," he said.
His statement, which lasted nearly 15 minutes, was greeted with grumbling—and, oftentimes, objections—from the 30 people in attendance.
"I am personally embarrassed," resident Jeff Harrison said.
He quoted from St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan's recent column, and said Brentwood has been "too generous."
"It's not the city's money — it's our money," resident Chris Kobler said.
When the April 2012 election begins, Kobler said she'll remember who stood up for the residents.
The rest of the meeting was mostly uneventful, as residents slowly filed out of the building as the board discussed other matters.
Following the public meeting, the board entered a closed executive session at 9 p.m., which lasted until 10:26 p.m.