The mystery behind the robocalls many Brentwood citizens received over the weekend has been solved.
Mayor Pat Kelly paid for it.
“I paid for it and it’s my information,” he announced at the city council meeting Wednesday night, attended by approximately 30 citizens.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “I think as an elected official, I like to know what the pulse of the city is, and instead of hearing all the rumors, and getting it from this person and that person, I decided, let's do a poll and get the information for myself.”
Sign up for the Maplewood-Brentwood Patch daily newsletter so you won't miss updates to this story.
Patch received an e-mail from Brentwood resident Cheryl Emery on Monday saying that numerous citizens in Ward 1 received robocalls about the mayor and support for the petition to obtain a state audit.
In the public comments portion of the meeting, citizen Barry Williams said his call came on Saturday at 11:52 a.m. Then he read what he had transcribed from his answering machine.
This is a very brief 30-second poll on the April 3rd election. This past year the city of Brentwood has faced a number of administrative issues that have resulted in strong remedial actions. This survey will determine if you are satisfied with the changes that have been made in your city.
Question 1: Do you fee the city’s immediate endorsement for a state fiscal audit was appropriate? (Then a prompt was given to answer yes, no, or uncertain.)
Other questions were about the hiring of a new city administrator and finance director.
“Mayor, I think you wrote that question,” Williams said, which prompted laughter from the audience and the board. “That sounds like your handiwork.”
Williams asked the council members if any of them had received the call, and Barb Clements, from Ward 1, was the only one who said yes.
Williams wanted to know if the city was involved, and who paid for it.
“The city did not,” City Administrator Bola Akande said.
Williams asked Kelly if he would investigate who was responsible and how much it cost. “Sure,” Kelly said.
Karen Smith took the podium and said she was originally going to speak about a newsletter the city sent out, but began by speaking to the robocalls.
"From the question that Barry read, it sounded like the city was on board with the audit, and the councilmembers and the mayor signed the petition," she said. "I don’t think that was the case, so I think that’s misleading. I think that should be corrected.
"That was a citizen-led effort. That was not a city-led effort," she said.
Immediately following the public comments, Kelly cleared it up.
“Barry you were right, I did write that question,” he said.
“I think as mayor of city of Brentwood, I wanted to get an idea of what our residents thought,” Kelly said. “I think they were very normal questions. Did they agree with the hiring of our city administrator, finance director? Did the city act appropriately and fast enough? (They were) general questions like that, for my knowledge.
“It’s for my use, and that’s it,” he said. “Anybody else has a right to do a poll if they want to do it as well. Call up the company and pay for it just like I did.”
Citizen Julie Pozzo took the opportunity in the final public comments to tell Kelly what she thought of his statement. She said it was deceptive.
“I feel like they were done for political reasons, before the audit is complete, and most importantly before the April 3rd election,” she said.
“As a resident I don’t like being lied to. Shame on all of you,” she said. “I’m very disillusioned by this whole political process. I think you’re very deceitful and disingenuous, Mr. Mayor.”
After the meeting, Kelly's only reply to Pozzo’s remarks were, "If she wants to make it political she can.”
He was asked about the call possibly only going to Ward 1.
“Um, I’m not sure about that,” Kelly said. “I’m not going to comment. I got it; I live in Ward 3.”