A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council’s red-letter day: No masks required

Written July 15th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The new council dais arrangement on display Wednesday. From left are Manager Peter Troedsson, Councilors Matilda Novak and Marilyn Smith, and Mayor Alex Johnson II. Councilors Dick Olsen, Stacie Bartholomew and Bessie Johnson are out of the frame to the right.

For the first time in 16 months, the Albany City Council met in person this week, and the public was allowed in. No masks required.

People attending Wednesday’s session got their first look at improvements made in the council chambers during the Covid-19 period when meetings were conducted only remotely, online.

The dais was rearranged to demote the city manager and city attorney from the positions flanking the mayor, where these officials and their predecessors had sat for decades. Now the manager and lawyer sit to the side of the council, a step lower than the elected officials. Their table, moved to that spot, is the podium specially made a few years ago for the people addressing the council.

The arrangement allows more distance between the council members’ seats behind the raised dais.

Other improvements: New chairs for people in the audience, and a better system for broadcasting public meetings and then posting the videos to Facebook and YouTube. (That system needs a little work because some councilors’ words Wednesday could not be heard.)

What if anything happened of substance?

The main thing was that councilors went into executive session closed to the public for the annual performance review of City Manager Peter Troedsson. When it was over, they voted unanimously to give Troedsson a merit-based bump of 3.5 percent effective July 1. This brings his annual salary to $181,037.52.

The council took action on three matters I wrote about on hh-today in the past few months.

They approved abandoning the right of way for two closed pedestrian pathways near Sunrise School and two others one block over to the east. They sold a sliver of city property off Oak Street at Ninth Avenue to allow the owner of the old radio station building there to use the long-vacant property. And they sold a city-owned tax lot off Ridders Lane in North Albany to an adjacent owner who will keep it as a natural area.

Councilman Ray Kopczynski, by the way, attended remotely via Zoom from New York State, where he had driven his ancient three-cylinder Saab. He evidently made it. Now wish him luck for the drive coming back. (hh)

Attending his first in-person council session as Albany mayor, Alex Johnson II shows the gavel made for him by a friend in London.



22 responses to “Council’s red-letter day: No masks required”

  1. Tax Paying Joe says:

    So, the City Council can’t balance the budget, tax homeowners $9/month, buy new chairs and other things for the council chambers, plus gives the city manager a 3.5% raise.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Yup, you nailed it Joe!

      Time to show up… like they do at school board meetings… I guess and fire some people.

    • Bob Woods says:

      ” New chairs for people in the audience..” says the story.

      Maybe you should actually read the post, or do you unilaterally believe chairs for the public shouldn’t be replaced after a lot of years of use?

      BTW, have the guts to use your own name.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The symbolism is retching.

    City staff a step lower than the councilors. Constituents relegated to floor level.

    While the councilors serve up entertainment on the elevated stage, or is it an altar?

    “The seductions of arrogance compound the elusiveness of humility.” Dan Rockwell – Leadership Freak

    • Bob Woods says:

      Arrogance: Thy name is SHADLE!!!

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        It doesn’t take much to bring you to full froth, eh Bob?

        Perhaps the City Council should scratch their censorship itch and consult with Hasso by flagging undesirable, problematic opinions posted on this blog. Would this mitigate your anger?

        Kudos to Hasso for enabling free speech, although his continued allowance of personal, ad hominem attacks is disappointing.

        • Jake Jaques JJ Johnny Hartman says:

          This Commenter was personally chastised by Hering when I had the temerity to point out Hering’s repeated use of selective reasoning…mostly concerned with the financial realm and mostly critical of government when it didn’t suit his personal preferences, but cheerleading government when the government did as he thought ought be done. So while you thank Hering for supporting free speech, know that your “freedom” to Comment will only last as long as you don’t point out Hering’s more-than-occasional fallaciousness. And before you whine at me…yes, I do understand that Hering is free to do, say and censor anything he so desires.

          • Gordon L. Shadle says:

            No whining here.

            Whenever I submit a comment on CARA I have doubts about Hasso’s willingness to publish them. Let’s just say….he and I have a long history of disagreeing on CARA.

            And beyond CARA he and I have strongly disagreed on complaints I submitted to the State about the electioneering actions of previous City Manager (Hare); and his opposition to our successful initiative to add voter approval of debt and urban renewal plans to the City Charter.

            I feel your pain, but I have zero evidence of his “fallaciousness.” Lots of evidence of differences of opinion.

            To his credit I can’t recall a single instance where he resorted to “censorship” of me.

        • Not Bob Woods says:

          Mr. Shadle, you’re one to talk. Nearly without exception you feel compelled to comment in this space even if it’s not on topic. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and you’re a bitter old man who lives in North Carolina. Stay on your side of the Mississippi so we can live our lives without your sage wisdom.

  3. Mike quinn says:

    Just Sit back and wait your going to see more left over monies that were over forecasted all of a sudden pop up. City manager raises not bad barely 3 years here and that will be and extra 30k plus in salary and when he leaves in 2 years a bigger pers package awaits him as planned. Get some popcorn and watch this show

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      It has always been entertaining to watch the shifting priorities of the City Council in regards to choosing how to spend discretionary funds (the General Fund budget). I witnessed this during the 22 years I lived in Albany.

      Don’t have enough for fire and police? Circumvent the voters and impose a water “fee”, of all things, that dumps lots of additional cash into the discretionary fund.

      And then, shortly after the tax is imposed, exercise questionable judgement to broadcast a raise for the City Manager and spend discretionary funds to upgrade the council chambers.

      Hey, the people won’t object because they do not understand the city budget and, even if they try, can’t decipher the hundreds and hundreds of pages of bureaucratic jargon.

      So the narrative is framed as “transparency” and a response to Covid-19. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

      Popcorn issued at the chamber door would increase the entertainment value. Perhaps a stiff drink could be added. Both for a small “fee”, of course.

    • The Truth says:


      Assuming he didn’t work previously for pers as a Tier One or Tier Two, his PERS will be limited to years of service at 1.5% of final average salary so if he worked for only the 5-years to get vested his pension would be calculated as 1.5% x 5 x $182,000/12=. So less than $1,200 a month. Not a bad pension for 5-years but not some windfall.

      • Mike quinn says:

        Sounds like the truth won’t put his name out there so you must have city staff interest. Dare you put your name out here

        • The Truth says:

          Why would you assume the truth is a male? Hasn’t your wife taught you a woman is usually the one that is right?

        • The Truth says:

          Like many of our founding fathers I like to speak the truth and use a non de plume. As Hamilton (and others) showed in the federalist papers, the non de plume is a great way to exercise ones freedoms while providing a vital message.

  4. sonamata says:

    I really appreciate your (voluntary) reporting on local issues. Do you ever attend the Linn County Commissioner meetings? The County is so lacking in transparency, and really needs more detailed reporting on their activities.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks for your comment. My local reporting is based mostly on what I happen to see and wonder about, as well as what people ask me about. It also results from a continuing interest (left over from my newspaper days) in the Albany city government whose actions affect about 55,000 people living close together in town. The board of county commissioners also does important work but mostly of an administrative kind. In addition, the commissioners meet Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, when I have other obligations. So no, except for the occasional item that interests me, you’re not going to see much coverage of county government on hh-today.

  5. City Councilor Marilyn Smith says:

    The city’s current, balanced, biennial budget, adopted in June, included money for bargained salary increases for the four employee bargaining units, and commensurate cost of living adjustments for the non-bargaining employees, which includes department directors. Money was also included for adjustments to the city manager’s salary increase; the city council determined the amount based on merit, with a budgeted cap at 3.5%.

    You will recall that the city manager requested and was granted a six-month, 10% salary cut for fiscal 2021.

    The city manager did not work in the Oregon PERS system until he was hired by the City of Albany in 2017.

    From the time he was hired, the city manager had asked to move his council chambers seat and others on the dais set aside for the city attorney and other staff. COVID protocols and a new council made that move possible.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Your comments on bargained salary increases, as if the generous increases granted by the City just need to be budgeted for, deserves a response.

      Using the political process the public unions have the power to exert lots of influence over City spending. Much more than private-sector unions can.

      Through their extensive political activity, public unions help elect the very politicians who will act as “management” in their contract negotiations (think City Council).

      In effect, the unions can pick who will sit across the bargaining table from them.

      Such power led Victor Gotbaum, the leader of District Council 37 of the AFSCME in New York City, to brag in 1975: “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”

      Gotbaum’s braggadocio evidently is still alive in City of Albany government.

      So give us some context and tell us Marilyn, before you retired from the City and went on PERS in 2020 were you a union member? Did you support, or oppose, the fair-share ruling by SCOTUS in 2018?

      (Full Disclosure: I was a fair share employee for a couple of years with the State and forced to pay dues. I cheered loudly when the SCOTUS decision was announced. Alas, I was retired when it happened.)

  6. CHEZZ says:

    OK, everybody get out of the house, and into the real ‘nature’ of life, before we have to go back in.

  7. Not Bob Woods says:

    Apparently Mr. Shadle is a friend of the author as he is allowed carte blanc to attack others while critics of his go censored (as this will probably be too).


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