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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Manhattan’s 2024 commission begins training

The Manhattan City Commission held a meeting Jan. 30 to orient newly-appointed commissioners
Avery Johnson
The newly elected city commissioners were trained at Tuesday’s meeting. Among the commissioners were Susan Adamchak (left) and Karen McCulloh (right).

The Manhattan City Commission held its orientation meeting Tuesday, Jan. 30, after the first meeting was postponed because of weather, Assistant City Manager Jared Wasinger said. During the meeting, newly sworn-in city commissioners reviewed their duties and meeting procedures.

“Following the election, they scheduled interviews with city staff, and other members of the community reached out to us,” newly-elected city commissioner Susan Adamchak said. “Then we had training on legal issues and concerns like the Kansas Open Meetings Act. This past Tuesday was another orientation on those issues and concerns.”

The meeting focused on the commission’s responsibilities to the public under Kansas law.

“We talked about the Kansas Open Records Act,” Wasinger said. “Just as an understanding of the laws that govern local governments, which extends to our city commissioners, on what constitutes records and that the public has a right — an opportunity — to request those records.”

Wasinger said commissioners discussed the Kansas Open Meetings Act, which requires all meetings to be available to the public.

“A quorum [majority] of our five commissioners is three, so any time three of those commissioners are interacting with each other, that could constitute an open meeting,” Wasinger said.

Because of this, commissioners must be careful what they talk about at informal meetings.

“If three or more of us show up to a luncheon, we can greet each other and say hello, but we can’t stand in a corner and talk about city business,” Adamchak said.

Adamchak said there’s a lot of guidance on being aware of these laws.

“For example, I can go to a lunch that’s sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, but I can’t have a discussion about city business with other commissioners outside of a public meeting where the public have access to hear us converse,” Adamchak said.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh said it is important to remember commissioners are public employees and need to be open about their plans.

“There’s a fine line between getting information from a citizen and telling a citizen you’ll do something,” McCulloh said. “You don’t want any perception that you’re making decisions or being unduly influenced by one person or one organization.”

McCulloh said she believes intent is also important when considering these laws.

“When I was a county commissioner, there were some counties where they just did really silly things like call each other all the time and come into meetings with everything decided, which obviously you just can’t do,” McCulloh said. “You’ve got to be open-minded enough to listen.”

In addition to Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners met with each other and past serving members, Wasinger said.

“After they [the 2024 city commission] were elected, we met with members of the 2023 commission and just gave them an orientation on Manhattan, its departments and the projects that we’re working on to try and bring them up to speed,” Wasinger said.

This included the annual city commission retreat on Friday, Jan. 26, where the new city commission met to discuss their future goals.

While not every commissioner agrees on how to approach the issue, McCulloh said, one of the future goals of the city commission is to discuss housing in Manhattan.

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About the Contributor
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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