-- At a Columbia public library town hall meeting and guest presentation Thursday night, State Representative
ignored speakers to play a handheld video backgammon game throughout the evening, witnesses say.
"Yes, I played backgammon,"
Mr. Kelly admitted. "I am far from perfect but I do know how to listen to discussions of public policy. I bet I heard the presentation in full."
After reportedly tuning out government accountability expert Greg Leroy, who criticized EEZ, TIF, and other corporate tax incentives, Mr. Kelly took the floor to lecture attendees against recalling First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt
Keep Columbia Free representatives circulated a recall petition at the meeting, motivated by Mr. Schmidt's second vote in four months for a board charged with blighting parts of Columbia for the EEZ. "Just call me Mr. Blighted," Schmidt declared in February.
"I was my usual unedited self," Mr. Kelly said, telling the audience
that no Council members attended the town hall because "they're pissed off." "They don't listen to us,"
one audience member retorted.
Mr. Kelly started the video game "a few minutes into LeRoy's presentation," a witness told the Heart Beat.
"A few minutes later, I noticed he was still concentrating on his game
. I noticed he played throughout LeRoy's entire presentation. Every time I thought he was going to put it down, he started a new game
Mr. Kelly told the Heart Beat he attended the meeting "because I don't know all the answers to this dilemma and am trying to learn both more about the perspective of the presenter and what people think. I would like to help find a better solution to his problem. That is why I went, end of story."
But coupling the video game with the anti-recall speech has some questioning his motives. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Schmidt share a campaign adviser, Jeff Chinn
and other political connections. "Chris Kelly didn't give a damn about the presentation," an attendee explained. "He was there to protect Fred Schmidt
[Ed. Note: Readers have informed the Columbia Heart Beat that 5th Ward Columbia City Councilman Chester Edwards -- successfully recalled for his votes on a controversial zoning issue -- was once Kelly's campaign treasurer. "Mr. Kelly may be especially sensitive about recall efforts for this reason," a source said.]