A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council sticks with ‘harmony’

Written July 12th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

In the online transmission, the council’s Wednesday session on the human relations issue looked a little on the grainy side.

The Albany City Council Wednesday night voted 4-2 against changing the ordinance authorizing the city’s Human Relations Commission. Despite nearly two hours of speeches by supporters of the change, the question of how the different words would change the volunteer commission’s work was never answered.

I watched the proceedings online, and by my count 15 people urged the council to adopt the wording change the panel proposed. One did not.

Councilmen Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen voted to adopt the revised human relations ordinance. Councilors Rich Kellum, Mike Sykes, Bill Coburn and Bessie Johnson were against it.

During the brief debate, Kopczynski made the claim that “the majority of the community is in fact racist.” It’s how people were brought up, and it’s in their DNA, he averred. As for white privilege, he said, “if people don’t see it, they’re not looking close enough.”

Some of the witnesses told stories of discrimination against themselves or their children. As far as I could tell, none explained how the proposed wording in a city ordinance would bear on their experiences or what they might expect in the future.

The human relations panel, which is advisory to the city government, wanted to change its authorizing ordinance by adding the phrase that it would be “committing to diversity, equity and inclusion.” Just exactly what that would mean to its activities — like what it would then start doing or no longer do — the commission did not say.

As the law reads now, the commission is supposed to “promote harmonious relations among the citizens of Albany.” The panel had proposed replacing that phrase with “strengthen connections within Albany’s diverse community.”

After helping to reject the change, Coburn suggested there was value in the commission and the council might want to have further discussions with the panel. Mayor Sharon Konopa said this might be a topic for a future work session. If it is, maybe then they can start talking about what any ordinance change would mean in practical terms. (hh)

Councilman Kopczynski provided this view of the crowd before Wednesday’s meeting started.


31 responses to “Council sticks with ‘harmony’”

  1. DHHoxie says:

    Why have a Commission if you are not going to listen and adopt to their suggestions?

    • John Hartman says:

      Because the purpose of the Commission is NOT to actually make human relations in Albany better. It’s purpose is to grant the appearance that the City is actually pretending to do something about human relations. As is made apparent by the 4-2 vote, the City would rather the Human Relations Commission shut up and stop making waves. Even something as simple as a wording change raises the possibility that the Council might actually have to do something about the racial and gender biases running amuck in our Fair City.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Geez….such ignorance.

      Hasso’s article made it clear the city council was listening. The HRC simply did not do a good enough job of persuading the council to adopt the RECOMMENDATION.

      If the council must adopt every RECOMMENDATION, then why have a council?

    • Cheryl P says:

      Just because they chose to not adopt the suggesions doesn’t mean that they weren’t listening. What exactly would the change accomplish?

      • Leroy says:

        Request for reverse discrimination denied. They who don’t find Albany to their liking can hit the road for a happy space they seek. I don’t see racism here, I grew up in Detroit I know what racisim is. Kopczynski and Olsen do not speak for us. You just act like your not racist and you wont be, if your looking to be offended, you will be. Albany residents just don’t kiss your butt if you happen to be a different shade or hew. You want square business act like it.

  2. John Hartman says:

    Per usual, the City Council is feckless and out of touch. The Commission in question is largely a sham, designed to make it appear as though the City is concerned about human rights. The group is akin to salve for Albany’s conscience.

    The Council always trots out this commission as proof that the City is in tune with the citizenry. Yet, when the Commission poses even the slightest challenge to the status quo, City Moms and Pops demonstrate their reactionary underpinnings. Perhaps the best thing that might happen is the Commission members resign en masse. At least then there would be a minor blip in the News cycle as Councilors attempt to explain the reasons why.

    RAy Kopcyzinski did touch Albany’s Third Rail when he pointed out the obvious, although his claim that Albany racial and gender biases are in the people’s DNA is a stretch. It may be possible that all biases are genetically based, but it is more likely that prejudices are learned behaviors. It really matters little. The Council rejects science as flippantly as it rejects it’s own Human Relations Commission. Easy come, easy go.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “It may be possible that all biases are genetically based, but it is more likely that prejudices are learned behaviors.”

      Probably more true & I did start my comments with mention of the very pertinent and relevant song from Roger’s & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” movie of 1958 (originally from their 1949 play of same name.)

      “You got to be taught to hate…’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnY-Ft7F9eo

      • Leroy says:

        I agree you have to be taught to hate. Hating what is wrong and lopsided is common sense. We don’t need special accommodations for people who can not or will not assimilate.

        • Amber says:

          By telling others to assimilate you imply that everyone must live exactly the same as everyone else. Even if such a boring prospect is attempted it does not work. The mere fact that one looks different, i.e. not of European only ancestry, that person is treated differently by some of our community.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    It appears Ray’s white guilt has put him in touch with his inner race-pimp.

    He offers nothing new – only racial pandering, condescension, and empty politically correct words.

    His comments are socially irresponsible and undermine the racial harmony he seems to want. It’s sad to see this from an elected councilor.

    • John Hartman says:

      Apparently, Mr. Shadle’s biases are less objectionable to Mr. Shadle than are Mr. Kopczynski’s. Or, at least according to Mr. Shadle, a man Albany understands fully to be the paragon of open-mindedness and free-thought. But then, what are we to expect. And Mr. Shadle, along with Mr.Cordier, are fully color blind, it goes without saying. That is why they can so roundly condemn Mr. Kopczynski for having the audacity to point out the inherent racism so prevalent in Our Fair City.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Shelby Steele, a scholar and prolific author on race relations gave the following wise advice in an interview:

      “I think that we still have a big mountain to climb here in America, and that mountain is, we have to understand race is a very minor feature in the human condition. And our challenge is not to acknowledge or be tolerant of racial difference; our challenge is to know each other as human beings.”

      “Stop believing so much in group identities. Stop rewarding group identities. Leave it as a private matter for individuals. Stop having double standards. Have single standards for everyone. Start expecting the same thing of minorities that we expect of everyone else. Reject all public policy that rewards group identity: affirmative action, “diversity,” racial preferences.”

      To repeat, “..our challenge is to know each other as human beings.”

      Perhaps Ray, Dick, and the HRC should incorporate that language in the commission’s mission statement.

    • centrist says:

      So RK touched a nerve, eh?
      I see that you bring up PC. Worked at a place where Union leadership (all staunch Republicans) lead the drive to establish PCness in the workplace.

    • Leroy says:

      I agree with you.

  4. tom cordier says:

    I suggest Mr. Kopczynski has the vision problem who sees racists everywhere. Perhaps he should resign in protest to the Council’s decision to reject the objectionable language

  5. Tony White says:

    Aside from attempting to “legitimize” “alternate” lifestyles, the proposed changes would accomplish little to nothing. Sanity prevailed.

    • John Hartman says:

      By definition, everyone that is not you is practicing an “alternative lifestyle.”

      This begs the question: who made you the Decider of legitimacy?

    • Leroy says:

      I agree with you.

  6. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Gordon & Tom & others…

    Why do you fear the dozen words proposed? The comments and tears emanating from the speakers are REAL pain they have experienced – right here in river city. That folks are intentionally so obtuse to ignore it boggles the mind… As a disabled veteran, I strongly adhere to having to defend your right to open your mouth and prove to the world that your utterances are absurd in this day and age. As I also stated, SCOTUS has said several times that pure hate speech is in fact, for the most part, protected speech, and as such, I have to listen (or not). In no way does that mean I need to sit idle and abide…

  7. John Hartman says:

    Based on the arguments presented by Messers Shadle and Cordier, it seems more than likely that both of these gentlemen would be checking the Caucasian box on whatever form it is they’re filling out.

    Thus the continuing absurdity of two white males selling the fairy tale that there is no racial or gender bias in Albany. Who better to make that judgement?

    • David Abarr says:

      Exactly. Walk in others’ shoes applies here. Listening to the public feedback at this meeting, you’d try to relate and empathizes. Well, I didn’t get that sense at all from the council with 2 exceptions. Kinda elephant in The room by not recognizing a person’s ethnicity. Like so much in today’s world we deny the obvious. To be so against changes to verbiage that the vast majority didn’t even now existed. Hmm.

  8. Cheryl P says:

    You’re right Ray…I’m a racist. Because I care more about A person’s character than the color of their skin. You don’t get a pass for being an ass because you’re black, brown, yellow, or red. You don’t get special consideration because of what is between your legs or who you are having sex with or because you think you’re a giraffe.

    And therein lies the real truth. Equality means no more special consideration, it means having to do the work instead of having things handed to you, it means being held accountable for your choices.

    • Leroy says:

      Cheryl P. wins the Best Response Title!
      Thank you for saying your piece. Outstanding and true!

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Back to my unanswered question… WHY are you & others so afraid of using those dozen words? Oregon’s history – and by Albany citizens comments at the meeting – are 100 % proof-positive many folks still have their blinders on and are intentionally choosing to ignore the elephant in the room…

      • Cheryl P says:

        The better question is…what are you and those so insistent on those dozen words? What is “committing to diversity, equity and inclusion” that “promote harmonious relations among the citizens of Albany” didn’t do or that “strengthen connections within Albany’s diverse community” wasn’t good enough? What is really behind those words?

        But to answer your question…I’m not afraid, but folks like you can’t have that can you? Without ‘fear’ and ‘hate’, without ‘racism’, ‘bias’, ‘bigotry’, without ‘special consideration’, ‘minority quotas’, ‘affirmative action’, without so-called ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’…it’s an even playing field which means you’re going to have to grow up if you want to sit at the ‘adult’ table.

        It’s a bunch of crap that companies can’t just hire the best person for the job or be forced to not hire anyone because a ‘minority’ did apply or qualify. That a kid can’t go to the school of his choice because there are too many ‘white’ kids. That a woman can get away with not doing equal work for equal pay because she’s a ‘working mom’.

        YOU…and others like you…you’re the ones intentionally choosing to ignore the elephant. And that elephant is that the ‘race card’ has been maxed out. The ‘gender bias’ card has been maxed out. The “LGB…uh LGBT…uh LBGTQ…uh LBGTQQ uh LBGTQQWTF card’ has been maxed out. The “politically correct” has been maxed out. And the “Republic/Democrat card” has been maxed out.

        The MAJORITY of folks (all skin colors, all genders, all sexual orientations, all religions and non-religions, all creeds, all national origin, blah blah blah) are tired of all the male bovine excrement.

    • Amber says:

      And if things actually worked that way we would all shut up. The problem is that it does not work that way.

  9. hj.anony1 says:

    ….a hot topic. Allow me to leave this right here.

    Racism, Evangelicalism, Misogyny & Authoritarianism.

    Our modern 4 horsemen. ….all with heavy footfalls.

  10. Amber says:

    Imagine you and/or a family member was physically injured in a car collision. The crash was not caused by you nor by your family member. Would you rather be ignored by everyone who goes by even when you are calling out for help? Or would you rather someone acknowledge the accident, show concern for and reach out to you and/or your family member?
    No one is asking for special treatment. We are asking our neighbors to show they care.

    • Cheryl P says:

      Yes they are because despite the acknowledgement, the concern, the reaching out and so on and so forth…they are still lying on the ground because that is their choice.


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