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.