TOPEKA, Kansas – Topeka Mayor Mike Padilla and City Manager Steve Wade held their monthly press conference Tuesday morning in City Hall, where they discussed a wide variety of topics.
Among the topics discussed were the City of Topeka’s continued focus on increasing diversity in its workforce; efforts to attract new businesses to Topeka while retaining existing companies; and the need for the occupants of some buildings on the north end of downtown Topeka to look for new homes as a result of the Polk-Quincy Viaduct reconstruction project along Interstate 70.
Neither the mayor nor the city manager were able to comment on a lawsuit filed last week by three high-ranking female officers against the Topeka Police Department.
“This is ongoing litigation, so I’m certainly not at liberty to comment,” Wade said. “What I can say is that we always take claims of this nature very seriously. We expect the judicial system to fix this problem.”
In their $1.5 million federal lawsuit, the three female officers say they were subjected to discriminatory practices at the Topeka Police Department, as well as being passed over for promotions in favor of their male counterparts.
Wade said the City of Topeka continues its efforts to have a diverse and inclusive workforce, not just in the police department but across all of its divisions.
Padilla said the Topeka Police Department has far more female officers working there than it did when she began her 34-year career in the force.
“Coming from the police department, I know the changes that have taken place there,” Padilla said. “The number of female agents serving this community has grown amazingly since I started.”
Meanwhile, Hill’s Pet Nutrition announced a couple weeks ago that it will be moving its corporate offices from Topeka to Overland Park.
However, Wade noted that Hill’s will continue to be a major player in Topeka’s economy as it will maintain its global science, technology and manufacturing centers in the capital city.
Wade added that local leaders are constantly looking for new businesses to bring to Topeka while maintaining existing ones.
The mayor and city manager also discussed ongoing construction on the Polk-Quincy Viaduct along Interstate 70 at the north end of downtown Topeka. They noted that the occupants of several buildings in that area will have to find new locations.
Wade said the Law Enforcement Center at 320 S. Kansas Ave. will be able to remain in its current location during the reconstruction of the Polk-Quincy Viaduct.
However, the city’s Fleet Services division, located across the parking lot from the Law Enforcement Center near SE 4th and Monroe, will need to find a new home.
Padilla said efforts are already underway to find a new home for the Fleet Services division, where repairs and maintenance are done on city vehicles, including the Topeka Police Department’s cruiser cars.
“They’ve looked at several sites,” Padilla said, “and are continuing to do so to try and find the most reasonable and useful property and location for us to move to.”
Mayor Padilla also thanked the Topeka Fire Department for their work battling a spate of wildfires in recent weeks.
During the press conference, Mayor Padilla took a moment to wish his mother, Rose, a happy 93rd birthday Tuesday.