“I’ve lost a great deal of respect” for what he called a “shameful” Salina City Commission, expressed Salinan Bruce Moore Monday during the commission meeting.
Moore spoke to the commissioners during the public forum session of the meeting about a perceived threat he received from Interim Cty Manager Mike Schrage.
Moore said when Vanessa Cowie, former Salina Animal Shelter manager, resigned from her position and met with Schrage to discuss grievances and concerns, Schrage told her “he needed to do something with or to me.”
Moore said he reached out to Schrage to discuss the comments, but he rejected his offer at a truce.
Moore said Schrage, which he admitted to doing during the Oct. 1 city commission meeting, contacted the Kansas Department of Labor, inquiring about any potential standards Moore may have violated and implying that he may have violated them.
“It was, as intended, a smear campaign, a dirty trick reflective of Schrage’s lack of character,” Moore said. “Threat communicated; threat acted upon.”
The city commission, outside of commissioner Melissa Hodges, Moore said, “sit on your hands and appear to do nothing but walk lock-step with Schrage and Mayor Ryan.”
“You are responsible for what happens next,” he said. “But don’t think for a minute you’ve silenced me. On the contrary, I will be heard. Salinans will know the mistakes they made electing you, and you will be held accountable.”
Moore was one of at least five individuals who addressed the commission during its public forum.
Salinan Daniel Eckhoff said the commission demonstrates “closed and nontransparent leadership.”
“The outreach is rather poor. You can do more outside of a few posts on Facebook, personally,” he said while expressing his disapproval of the anticipated overhead structures. “I really hope you will reconsider the overhead structures. They don’t serve any function and don’t look that great.”
Supporters of Cowie continued to question actions of Schrage.
This time, her supporters wondered why they had seen Schrage, a couple of days after Cowie had resigned, walking to lunch along with interim animal shelter manager Monique Hawley, Chris Cotten, Salina Parks and Recreation director, and Scott Garnie, Parks and Rec deputy director.
“You let Vanessa leave, and you all are letting Cotten stay,” said Debrah Corrales.
Schrage said he wanted to show his support for Hawley in her role and find out how he can support her in that role.
Animal cruelty case revisited
Schrage said he wanted Hawley’s two immediate bosses to be present during the meeting.
Corrales said the board should do an independent investigation into the ongoing Fullen animal cruelty case.
The case involves 189 animals who were seized April 18 from a pasture on Lapsley Road in Assaria and from a residential property in the 5000 block of Country Club Road that allegedly had been neglected and starved.
Cowie, who recommended that the Saline County Sheriff’s Office seize the animals since they were being neglected, was placed on suspension prior to resigning as a result of her involvement in the case.
Corrales said she didn’t understand why Cowie was being blamed in the case.
“Didn’t grant funds pay for the animals being seized? Who is responsible for the grant money?,” she asked.
Schrage responded by saying that Cowie was responsible for the grant funds.
Commissioner Hodges also made a motion later in the meeting to hire an independent investigator into the case to “give is an idea on where things broke down, if they broke down, and where we can do better next time.”
Her motion was not seconded.
Also during the public forum, Salinan Patrick Harrington proposed condensing its monthly meetings from four to two. Harrington said the action would allow the board more time to study materials and items on the agenda as well as give the public more time to digest and react to actions taken by the commission.
Harrington said the current meeting time is counterproductive to transparency and public access.
Harrington said the proposed meeting times would cut down actions taken by the city commissioners, which he said have been “bad.”
The board also approved Vogts-Parga Construction, LLC, of Newton, to build a parking lot, 127 N. Fifth, west of Salina Fieldhouse at the former Bank of America.
Vogts-Parga has completed multiple projects for the city of Salina while include replacing the northbound lanes of Belmont Boulevard south of Magnolia Road, concrete resurfacing of the Crawford and Roach Street intersection and replacing and widening Centennial Road south of Schilling Road.
Vogts-Parga was the lowest bidder – which included Salina-based Smoky Hill, LLC – for the project, which will utilize New Market Tax Credit.
Their bid was for $444,070.07.
The project completion date is by the end of the year.