Assigned seating might prove problematic

Andy Ouriel
May 20, 2014


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.


Smcc Alum

In my opinion, this was not worth dedicating half a page..

write about somebody walking their cat on a leash, those are always fun reads.

T. A. Schwanger


I saw the humor and seriousness in the question.

I'd have to go back and look at the previous meetings, but it seems the seating arrangement in question has been used previously.


attend council meetings in other cities/towns. Usually seating is determined at the annual reorganization meeting after a mayor is elected. Often the mayor (or in other cases President of Council) assumes the middle seat. The seating remains throughout the year so their is no question of 'chance' or politics.
But... this IS Sandusky...

Wes Poole

Andy, Your question was worth mentioning because it reminded us that for many perception is reality. I'll have to work on masking my befuddlement. Thanks for the question.

Erie County Resident

it would be hard to huddle up if your ring leader is sitting at the other end of the line.
Really mess them up and place them in alphbetical order once, or number the seats and let them pull a number from a hat as they enter the room.

Julie R.

I watched some of it on TV that night and I noticed the odd seating arrangement right away. I thought it was hilarious when Andy asked about it, especially when they all tried to act so innocent.

Obviously nothing gets past Andy!