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Residents Question Ellisville's Decision to Hire PR Firm

The city council approved switching PR firms at a meeting Wednesday, but city officials have said the move was not related to the city's ongoing political crisis.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount the city had budgeted for PR services. Patch regrets the error and any confusion it may have caused. 

The owners of specialty wine store and restaurant Veritas recently relocated from Chesterfield to Ellisville, pursuing a bigger space to expand their business.

On Wednesday, they went to an Ellisville City Council meeting for the innocuous purpose of having a public hearing concerning their plans for the new location and were confronted by what has become a familiar sight – dissatisfied residents, accusations of political misdeeds and a mayor battling charges of impeachment.

The ongoing crisis can hardly be a welcoming sight for new businesses such as Veritas or others looking to relocate to Ellisville. So, when the city council approved the hiring of a new PR firm – Casey Communications – to provide occasional services on Wednesday, residents were quick to draw a connection.

“It’s kind of like buying roses for your wife after kicking her down the steps,” said Thomas Debold, one of several who criticized the council for the expense, pointing to a fee schedule that listed prices ranging from $210-240 per hour. “The worst public relations you are getting is from the people that are living out here.”

However, city officials said they have had a similar contract – at a similar price – for several years and are simply switching firms. One council member pointed out that the city’s budget, approved in back in October, already called for spending $2,000 on PR and marketing.

Still, some residents used the public comment section of the meeting to accuse the council of wanting to put a spin on the city’s current affairs, but City Manager Kevin Bookout told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the move had nothing to do with the criticism the city has received for Mayor Adam Paul’s possible impeachment.

Paul himself made headlines in the Post-Dispatch again on Thursday, this time for submitting to a lie detector test earlier this week in an effort to clear himself of the charge that he had been drinking on the job.

Paul told the paper he had passed the polygraph and offered to pay for any council member to take one as well concerning the charges contained in the resolution calling for his ouster.

The allegation of consuming alcohol while conducting city business was, along with several others, removed from the 11-page document at Wednesday’s meeting. Special legal counsel hired to conduct a hearing that will decided Paul’s fate said the allegation wasn’t, in and of itself, an impeachable offense. 

Mike K March 08, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Maybe the council thinks that if they hire 9 women, they can make a baby before April 2nd.
E. Schmidt March 08, 2013 at 01:55 PM
If City Hall actually adhered to the Sunshine Law consistently, posted notices in the customary places, actually adhered to the 24 hour and 48 hour rules consistently, didn't try to legislate by resolution rather than ordinance, used the city web site to post copies of ordinances and resolutions on the agenda rather than requiring all 9,500 of us to traipse up to City Hall to read the outside glass case which may or may not have the info required by law...and... ACTUALLY BEHAVED IN AN OPEN, TRANSPARENT MANNER,... we wouldn't have all this wild speculation...which on occasion, as bizarre as it sounds, is "dead on."
Just Bob March 08, 2013 at 02:34 PM
This was said repeatedly throughout the meeting but the city has always had a PR firm on a case by case basis. It was already included in the budget for 2013 which was passed unanimously (including Mayor Paul). If residents had issues with it, they should have stated it there. Also, anyone who knows city government and business should know that a PR firm can be used to help attract a business to a city or to publicize an honor, or to do any number of things. Would their services be helpful in the current happenings? Absolutely. However, the current happenings have nothing to do with hiring the PR firm.
E. Schmidt March 08, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Just Bob, The public comments session came before the legislation portion of the meeting. All anyone of the council members had to do was move to suspend the rules, vote to do so and then address the concerns or questions raised by the speaker. Even when a speaker asks them to suspend the rules to address an issue, they more often than not just sit there. So much for responsive government...
Yvonne Corley March 08, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Just to set the record straight, the Council member said the City's PR Budget was $2,000, not $200,000 as reported in this article: "One council member pointed out that the city’s budget, approved in back in October, already called for spending $200,000 on PR and marketing." Thank you.
robert kerr March 08, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Smitty, You are like a bull in china cabinet, a whriling dervish. If you are the one that is so intelligent, then, should you not be running for the city council? Me thinks you live outside the bounderies of Ellisville. If that is the case, you should shut your pie hole.
Rockwood 25 March 09, 2013 at 02:18 AM
Keep it civil, please.
JS March 09, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Fans of Mike & E: Despite repeated pleas that they read the legislative rules, which are enumerated in the Missouri Constitution, (E and Mike are reaching for a dictionary at this very moment) I would like to offer the following advice. Whenever you read comments by Mike & E Schmidt, close your eyes and envision Captain Kangaroo. Just as Captain Kangaroo was neither a marsupial or a military officer-their disturbing comments (e.g Rain Man) are neither rational or sane.
Caffeinated March 09, 2013 at 05:21 AM
Aren't you the dullard who suggested we keep score by lawsuit wins instead of elections? I've noticed you've not actually offered anything substantive, instead you simply refer to the Missouri Constitution as if the mere mention of it points to some fault in their positions. What is enumerated in the Missouri Constitution that is pertinent to the "legislative rules" they refer to. Dazzle us with your knowledge.
Suzanne Gundlach March 13, 2013 at 05:05 PM
NOTICE OF VENUE CHANGE The hearing on the Resolution to remove Mayor Paul will be held at Ellisville Elementary School Gym, 1425 Froesel Drive on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

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