Topeka City Council Waits On Schedule Change, Approves Service Monkeys

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Topeka man with a disability can move forward with getting a unique service animal, but we'll wait to find out if council members move forward with fewer meetings.

Mayor Larry Wolgast's proposal would eliminate first readings from council meetings. The practice alerts members and residents of issues up for vote in the week ahead. He also suggested to reduce the number of meetings per month from 4 to a minimum of two.

Council members voted to send both items to the policy and finance committee for further review.

District 6 Council Member Chad Manspeaker voted for more time, saying, "We just need to make sure we are covering all of our bases. If you don't have internet, how can you get that agenda. Do you come to city hall and get it? Obviously our goal is to be as transparent as possible. We are dealing with the people's business everyday. That's my end goal. To just be as open and as transparent in a way that engages people the most.

Council members considered a change to a city ordinance involving exotic animals that would allow the use of a trained Capuchin monkey to assist a disabled 28 year old Topeka man.

While an unusual request, District 4 Council Member Denise Everhart says the need was real. "They will do the task he is unable to do because he has no use of his hands. I can't even imagine what daily life is like for him. Anything we could do as a city to make things easier is a good thing."

The ordinance passed unanimously, but with a change to make it specific to monkeys trained by the group Helping Hands Monkey Helpers, which requested the ordinance change on the man's behalf.