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Assigned seating might prove problematic

Andy Ouriel • May 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

At times, Sandusky city commission meetings reflect an elementary school classroom setting, highlighted by uncontrollable behavior and nonsensical dialogue.

There’s also assigned seating.

Unbeknownst to me, at a recent meeting, I noticed the seven elected officials sitting in a strange order as they all faced the audience. Four commissioners — Dennis Murray Jr., Naomi Twine, Dick Brady and Wes Poole — all sat next to each other. The other three — Jeff Smith, Scott Schell and Julie Farrar — also found seats beside one another.

The seating arrangement is notable for this reason: The mentioned quartet voted to fire former city manager Nicole Ard about two months ago. The trio didn’t.

So I went up to the lectern and asked commissioners a simple question: “Why are you sitting like that?” It’s as if I spoke Portuguese to them. They seem befuddled, by my inquiry as they spun their head left to right, trying to understand my question.

Seemingly puzzled, Murray asked why I would ask a question like that. I responded by saying it appears you are sitting in blocs. Murray then said the order in which the commissioners sit is chosen at random before each meeting.

Murray, who’s also the ex officio mayor, always sits in a middle seat. The odds of this lineup happening are pretty slim, but it was still something worth mentioning and questioning in my opinion.

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