Seating assignments and accusations of sexism among commissioners highlighted the Salina City Commission meeting on Monday.
Last week Salina City Commissioner Melissa Hodges posted a video online critical of Mayor Karl Ryan. The video was created, and initially shared by Aaron Householter. Householter is a former Salina Mayor who unsuccessfully ran for a city commission seat in the November election.
In the video Hodges accused Ryan of deliberately disrespecting her by assigning her a seat at the far end of the dais, rather than one closer to the middle. Traditionally the outside seat has been assigned to the commissioner with a two-year-term, who finished third in the election. Joe Hay finished third to win the two-year-term, while Hodges finished second and won a four- year-term.
Prior to Monday’s meeting the seating assignment was adjusted, with Hay moving to the end seat.
Mayor Ryan addressed the issue during the “Citizens Forum” portion of the meeting. Ryan said, among other things, that Hodges should have called him to discuss the issue rather than doing it via social media.
Hodges wanted to respond immediately. Ryan told her that she could respond, but at the end of the meeting during the “Other Business” portion.
The meeting ran long. It was pushing up against a Saline County Planning Commission meeting was scheduled in the same room for 7:00. As it neared 7:00, Hodges was given an opportunity to speak.
Hodges said that she disagrees with everything Ryan said, and that because she had little time to speak she would be posting another video.
Commissioner Mike Hoppock then spoke. He said when he ran for office he had hoped for “open communication and a level of professionalism among the group.” He continued “I find it troubling that we are going to conduct business on social media” and urged Hodges to “stay off of social media and let’s handle it among ourselves.”
Hodges requested that the topic be put on an agenda for a future meeting so it can be discussed.
In between the personal discussions the commission conducted some city business. Among other things they began the process of starting a recycling center, which will be located in the area of Santa Fe and North Streets. The topic of special assessments was also discussed, and will be discussed more in depth at an upcoming study session.