Mayor spends without approval, leads to board discussion

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The reading of the warrant list — bills paid by the city — in Brentwood Board of Aldermen meetings doesn’t normally raise red flags, but it did at the Dec. 3 meeting when Alderman David Dimmitt, who is also chairman of the ways and means committee, pointed out that Mayor Chris Thornton had made purchases larger than the city code allows without board approval.

It was all related to the city’s Brentwood Bound project, to alleviate flooding on Manchester Road between Brentwood Boulevard and Hanley Road.

Thornton said that he was preparing for a meeting of the Brentwood Bound task force and the materials being prepared were good but he needed an ‘elevator pitch version, something like the video for Brentwood Days.’ He said the public relations firm, Unicom, agreed it was a good idea. So Thornton said ‘do it,’ he reported in the board meeting.

“Perhaps my mistake, unintentionally, I just said do it. They were working on the video until the day of the workshop, that it was outside the scope — that wasn’t the intent. It was the intent to get the work done,” he said.

The other instance was a similar situation, he said. He said he had been asked tax questions about Brentwood Bound so he asked Cook & Riley (tax lawyers) to compare sales tax before and after the project and asked if the firm could do it in time for an upcoming board of aldermen meeting, and said they could.

“Again, I never asked for a quote. They never gave me a quote. It was simply information I was looking for to present,” he said.

Dimmitt said the total of the two items was about $22,000 – $23,000.

A third item was for about $21,000 for the billboard at the corner of Hanley and Manchester roads.

Dimmitt said, “…as I read the code, those decisions, to spend that kind of money, needs to come to the board, and if the board is going to be involved then we need to be involved. We should not be cut out of this process.” Though he said he appreciates the timeliness of things.

“I’m torn because I don’t want to slow things down, but I want to make sure we’re abiding by the city’s code and we’re not just giving to one person the ability to spend this certificate of participation money. That’s the board’s responsibility — our job is to provide oversight, and that is by code delegated to us,” he said.

Alderman Brandon Wegge said there has to have some ability to make decisions, but also to have oversight. “How do we balance need to make decisions quickly?”

Thornton said in the case of the billboard, he knew he was violating the policy, “but in order to lock it up, knowing there was time available to undo the doing, I acted. I hoped the board would want me to act.

“Though in the case of the other two, I can tell you it never entered my mind. I can tell you if I have to investigate every time, I’m just not going to make those phone calls, and that’s, I hope, not good for anybody.” But he said he also agrees completely with Dimmit, saying: “A policy that is violated inconsistently is no policy at all, and that’s bad policy.”

Reported from the city’s YouTube channel.

38 COMMENTS

    • Apparently it could have been done in Brentwood for $6000. “He paid$22,000 for a promo video? That is completely out of bounds. We charge $6,000 for a high-end video of the same type. This is just dishonest. Good lord this guy is fast and loose with our money.”

  1. Once again I ask, who got paid a king’s ransom to do the video? That should be known and it should be very interesting!

  2. I’m sorry—but where were the “watching citizens” when Thornton ran for the FIRST time. No one looked at his professional record. He had been professionally downgraded as an attorney by the management in the company he worked —-DOWNGRADED — to a lesser legally responsible job. What does that say? No one LISTENED to his contradictory and “GLAD-HAND, greasy don’t you know” promises to the residents in the most affluent neighborhoods in B’wd. What residents listened (NOT) to the discrepancies and divisive plans he had BEFORE HE WAS ELECTED THE FIRST TIME. I wish his wife (whose RE business profited from his election) well. I feel sorry for their children who ultimately will pay for the sins of the father. He needs to ‘CUT AND RUN’ –start over again, only be honest. Let the “GOOD ANGELS” in his head remind him that he has a family who will be looked at as tainted and ever-questionable because of him. So tired of this garbage. Chris has NO empathy for those affected by his mentality of “falling down the rabbit hole.” I am sorry Mrs. Thornton, and I am sorry for your children. Your children loved and followed the good of their dad to their now historical record. But you just love the man. If he steals from others to make your life (and finances) better, don’t you know?? That is still stealing. To both Thornton parents: IS THIS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT FOR YOUR KIDS?? My heart says no. But your actions contradict what i believe your love for your kids truly is.

  3. Brentwood is at least consistent. Patterns of fraud continue.

    Question #1 – How much is the Mayor Thornton, the City Admin and their cronies getting paid in kickbacks and other “benefits” to force this project through. Do you think they might be flipping the parcels for a HUGE profit through shell companies or “partners” to the City for the Brentwood Bound Project???

    Question #2 – The Brentwood Bound Project is a TIF project that will WIPE OUT 20+ Businesses and replace it with a PARK for $70M… When the whole things goes bust good luck paying for Police and Fire pensions…

    So West Contracting will just roll over on this one I am sure…

    FOLLOW THE MONEY FOLKS! This isn’t rocket science.

    This is HILARIOUS!!! I need to refill my popcorn bucket, be right back

  4. And here we go again…. More decisions made by one individual for ‘the good of the people’ who are left to pay for it….how long before we get a new Thornton Tower erected — and then there will probably be a toll road for the privelage of driving by the wondrous monument his majesty built at the cost of the taxpayers…… Seriously Brentwood? Did we all forget the money shenanigans that led to an embarrassing FAILURE of an AUDIT?? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHECK & BALANCE SYSTEM?? What precautions are there to ensure no other unauthorized purchases are made? And what is being done about the reported $60k spent without approval?? SHAMEFUL!
    HE SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE IMMEDIATELY!

    • This guy is dirty and always has been. He has been lining his own pockets at our expense for years. Thank God at least one alderman has the courage to stand up and protect the people.

  5. A short “Elevator Pitch” video to be seen by a handful of people should have cost no more than $500 to $750. So which of the Mayor’s friends got that deal?!!

  6. That “hog-riding pork on steroids consumptionist” has always done this…from the beginning. Where have you been looking?

  7. Hopefully the majority of us taxpayers will say “no” to further debt for the Manchester Road project. There is no way to justify spending $70 MILLION+. At a time when brick-and-mortar retail is fading (and so goes the sales tax revenue), he is piling debt on the city. Five years from now, we will be asking ourselves how we got into this precarious position of having to implement a property tax to provide basic services, since our debt payments will take up such a large portion of the city budget. Hopefully I’ll be out of the city when this house of cards collapses.

    • Too true. My alderman told me Thorton convinced the board of ald. to vote for the manchester road project by presenting fraudulent figures. We will be paying for his mistakes long after he is gone.

      • Debt service on $70+ Million of new debt will be a huge drain on the city. To accomplish “Brentwood Bound”, some tax-paying businesses are being forced to sell and may close or relocate outside of the city. So, this project may take tax-paying businesses off the tax roll. Without new tax revenue (and brick-and-mortar sales tax is growing at a rate less than inflation), there will have to be some city services cut or curtailed. Simple math says that is a fact. This project is sold as nothing short of a utopia project, with none of the downside on the operations of the city being discussed. The real world does not work that way.

        • Fading brick and mortar retail will relieve the strain on our fire fighters and police to not only maintain the bucolic atmosphere of our neighborhoods, but at the same time provide safe shopping environments for the thousands who visit Brentwood daily.

          • Fading retail sales will also reduce sales tax revenue, which Brentwood is dependent upon for funds to run the city, man the police and fire departments, and pave the roads. If sales tax revenue declines, we will have services cut, or other taxes increased to maintain services. And on top of that, new debt payments on the $70M+ debt will just make this worse. This is like signing a new mortgage while watching your fellow employees get laid off. We should all be wary of all this new debt.

  8. I think you should check out the Richmond Heights Mayor also. Look into to golf donations to his college golf tournament(Quincy College). Will RH buy a sign for all colleges?

  9. While I think something needs to be done with the Manchester Rd swamp, I’m afraid that this thing is going to turn into it’s own kind of swamp. The usual suspect developers buzzing around, sniffing for taxpayer money. Unaccountable city officials. And nobody finds out about it till 5 years after it’s completed. Judging by history, going all the way back to Brentwood Forest, this is the way it’s done here. I don’t mean to single out Brentwood or current city govt., this is how all grand scale projects go, from the federal level on down. Maybe we can get a U City trolley too. There’s one sitting on blocks in front of the History Museum.

  10. Is anyone surprised by this? This is the same guy that used the city police cars to develop his software. He obviously does not think rules/policies apply to him. As far as he is concerned, the city and its employees are at his disposal. And for him to feign lack of knowledge of the rules says a lot. If you don’t know the rules that govern the city, he shouldn’t be in charge.

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