A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Newest member joins Albany council

Written January 7th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Getting ready for Monday’s work session, from left are Albany Councilmen Bill Coburn, Dick Olsen, and Alex Johnson II, attending his first meeting.

The Albany City Council welcomed its newest member Monday. He is Alex Johnson II, who won the 2018 election in council Ward 2A.

Monday’s occasion was an unusually lengthy work session, the first council meeting of 2019. Johnson took his oath of office last month, on Dec. 11,  but on Wednesday, at the first regular meeting of the year, he’ll be sworn in again in a ceremony along with the two council members who were re-elected two months ago: Dick Olsen begins his sixth consecutive four-year term, and Bessie Johnson her fifth.

A Navy veteran, Alex Johnson is in the life insurance business and lives in southwest Albany. He’s also a football and softball official for the Oregon School Activities Association. (With two councilors with the same last name, the first time that’s happened in my experience, it will be necessary to use their first names when referring to them on second mention.)

Alex Johnson succeeds Ray Kopczynski, who retired from the council last week after not running for re-election. As though he hadn’t had enough of these meetings after his time in office, Kopczynski was back Monday, sitting in the audience even though the agenda promised an unusually long session.

The agenda included a scheduled one-hour segment, closed to the public but not reporters, to discuss labor negotiations and a real estate deal. I didn’t want to sit through the whole thing, particularly since the rules prevent reporting on the substance of the closed session, so I left early.

Councilman Rich Kellum told me later that after the closed discussion, the council reconvened in open session and voted to implement its final offer to the AFSCME unit that represents about 180 city employees. For months the parties have been at an impasse in their contract talks.

About the only other thing of interest (to me anyway) during the rest was the advice council members got from City Clerk Mary Dibble on public records. It appears that according to state regulations, even the notes councilors make to themselves during meetings must be handed over to the clerk to be retained. No word, though, on whether that applies to doodles as well. (hh)

This story has been edited to say that Alex Johnson has already taken his oath of office, which I didn’t know when I wrote the first version and relied on the council’s Wednesday agenda, which includes the swearing in of new and re-elected council members.

Council members appear less than riveted by a long review of the city’s strategic plan Monday.



10 responses to “Newest member joins Albany council”

  1. Bryan says:

    ” It appears that according to state regulations, even the notes councilors make to themselves during meetings must be handed over to the clerk to be retained.” I hope you’re not suggesting this wasn’t already known?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Not surprising with e-discovery in the current litigious society we abide. Some of it is asinine and there should be some push-back at the state level by local jurisdictions IMO…

    • Derek says:

      My guess is that it was primarily for the benefit of Mr. Johnson and a gentle reminder to the existing counselors.

  2. Richard Vannice says:

    Oregon Administrative Rules contain a lot of requirements that are not well known. One is the retention of records, and notes as I was told by a former employee of the Administrative Rules section a number of years ago) included doodles and even a phone number jotted down on a post it note. If department heads would look closely at these rules they would learn that a large amount of the information the keep forever can be destroyed after a specified time.
    Keeping these records is what the called the, “What if and Because Syndrome.”

  3. Avid Reader 1 says:

    Welcome, Alex Johnson. Glad to see some diversity on that council.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      I do not like the term “diversity.” It is a racially coded term with a hidden agenda.

      Albany should be cultivating lasting relationships with all colors, not just targeting a specific color when we deem their participation acceptable. All culture is connected. Sending the “diversity” message reduces a minority to a mere minority.

      There is a larger truth. Increasingly, there is no such thing as a racial minority in our country. In fact, our racial identities are becoming more complex and multiracial as a multitude of racial groups grow in numbers.

      We are completing a genealogy chart for our grand-kids that goes back seven generations. It visually teaches our grand-kids that our family represents “minorities” from multiple countries and races. No one race, culture, or heritage dominates in our family.

      What we as family share is a more integrative common bond – we are all Americans. This is the lesson our grand-kids need to learn.

  4. Bill says:

    any unpure thoughts must also be reported


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