SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- During a recess at the City Council meeting on Monday night, several Walmart consultants were clustered near the podium microphone while the city's video cameras were rolling. Their conversation included unflattering comments about people involved in the debate over rezoning some land that Walmart would like to buy for a Neighborhood Market. That conversation was first reported by the Springfield News-Leader on Wednesday.
At one point, Walmart site consultant Jeff Clayton targeted Councilman Scott Bailes.
"Oh my God, what was his deal? 'Who paid for the traffic study?' You dipsh--! Who pays for all of it?" Clayton said.
The remark is in reference to an earlier exchange during the meeting when Bailes questioned Clayton about the traffic study conducted for a plan to build another Neighborhood Market at the southwest corner of Grand Street at Campbell Avenue.
"I was truly asking questions that I thought were in the best interest of some safety issues for our citizens here in Springfield," Bailes said in an interview on Wednesday afternoon.
Bailes wasn't the only target in the consultants' conversation. Clayton also joked about one of the speakers who opposes the Neighborhood Market.
"What happened to the kid with the ponytail, the big ponytail? He was great, to let him go off, because he's a nut-bag," said Clayton.
Referring to earlier testimony, Clayton recounted a conversation that he had with a Calvary Temple Assembly of God pastor about talking with neighbors and then releasing the comments only if they were positive.
"Everybody talks about that the neighborhood doesn't want any of this. So, he (the pastor) said, 'I'm going to get some people in the parish, whatever, and we're going to walk around and talk to people.' I said, 'Okay, and if it's bad we just forget this whole conversation, and, if it's good, we use it,'" said Clayton.
In order to build the store on the site selected, Walmart would buy Calvary Temple along with several homes.
Clayton sent a message to KY3 News on Thursday morning.
"I try to conduct myself in a professional and business-like manner and my comments were neither. I have spoken with Councilman Bailes and apologized for my comments about him, for which I am truly sorry. I also apologize to the city council members and mayor and to any other party my comments have offended," Clayton wrote.
Clayton called Bailes on Tuesday afternoon."He apologized for his actions, his words, and I told him, I said, 'We've all said things we assumed were not live or being recorded or on air.' So I said, 'I accept and I appreciate your call,'" said Bailes.
On Feb. 25, Bailes likely will have to vote on the issue. He said what was caught on camera will not influence his decision.
"It's not to vote what Scott Bailes wants. So I can definitely set that aside and vote what I think is best for Springfield," he said.
This rezoning request to pave the way for a fifth Neighborhood Market in Springfield has, by far, been the most contentious.
At one point during the recess, Clayton was caught on camera saying, "If I had a do-over, I would take it someplace else."
Clayton is a real estate broker based in Kansas City.