ELLISVILLE, Mo. (KMOX) – The mounting costs of impeachment in Ellisville are receiving a lot of attention from the people.
“I wouldn’t say we were lied to but we sure as heck were misled,” one man said at the Ellisville City Council meeting Wednesday night.
“The smoke-and-mirror game with the lawyers, with the PR firm; we’re tired of it,” another added.
“A PR firm that was budgeted at $2,000, which submitted a bit for $8,000, that doesn’t even have the hours listed that they spent to produce a newsletter that no one has seen,” resident Elizabeth Schmidt said. Schmidt has been a vocal opponent of the successful effort by the Ellisville City Council to remove former mayor Adam Paul from office. She led the so-called “Article 9 Alliance” last year, an attempt to remove two of Paul’s opponents from the council.
“This is kind of interesting,” Paul’s attorney Chet Pleban told the Ellisville crowd, “They charged you to prepare the contract, their contract, with this city. They billed you for that. I guess maybe they billed you for putting together their bill too.”
The first bill for the public relations firm was stamped with a date falling before the council voted to officially hire them. Casey Communications was retained to clean up the city’s image during the impeachment.
Mayor Pro Tem Matt Pirrello stuck around after the meeting and answered resident questions in the council chamber, but on many of the inquiries had few answers to offer.
“That’s a worthwhile question that I don’t have an answer for but I will get an answer for you,” Pirrello said. And later: “I think that’s a valid question. I don’t have an answer for you yet but I’ll get an answer to that.”
Meanwhile, an effort by newly-elected council members Gary Voss and Mick Cahill to reinstate Paul as mayor was blocked by City Manager Kevin Bookout who refused to put it on the agenda because, according to an attorney, it wasn’t properly worded. The issue is muddled by the fact that City Attorney Paul Martin was not consulted and, instead, Bookout called one of the lawyers involved in the impeachment for opinion. That decision incurs an additional cost for the city.
To further complicate matters, Voss himself had a personal attorney present.
“We have to rely on the city attorney’s advice to keep the council out of trouble,” Pirrello explained, adding that if Voss and Cahill follow the proper procedures, they’re welcome to resubmit their proposal.
“That was one of the impeachable offenses they put against me,” Paul fired back after the meeting.
The special election to replace Paul is now scheduled for November.
“I want to get the city back going, I want to turn ashy back to classy,” Paul said during Wednesday’s council meeting.