A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Night of the Purge: Council fires 5 volunteers

Written January 27th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The Albany City Council (plus the city manager and clerk) at the conclusion of its Wednesday session.

Wednesday was the night of the purge in three of the volunteer commissions that advise the Albany City Council, something that I can’t remember happening before.

The council ousted Jo Rae Perkins, a controversial member of the Human Relations Commission.

It also kicked two members off the Community Development Commission, which considers how the city spends federal housing funds. And it booted two members of the planning commission just before a crucial hearing on a big apartment complex on the river.

Perkins, a conservative who regularly runs for federal office and last fall was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, was part of the demonstration in D.C. that culminated in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Because of her views, her presence on the Human Relations Commission had caused consternation last year, and the board ceased to function for a time after other members quit.

At the close of Wednesday’s council meeting, Councilwoman Marilyn Smith made an unscheduled motion to rid the commission of Perkins. It passed 4-2, with Councilors Ray Kopcynski and Matilda Novak opposed. Kopczynski thought the dismissal was the start of a slippery slope toward punishing people for their political views.

On the planning commission, the council approved a request by Mayor Alex Johnson to remove members Ann Ketter and Therese Waterhous. He gave no reasons except that he had researched the matter and it was his prerogative to make the change. (Smith and Councilman Dick Olsen opposed the dismissal of Ketter,)

Both Ketter and Waterhous had voted against allowing developers of the proposed “The Banks” riverside apartment complex on the Willamette River to increase their project from 105 to 120 units and change the layout, a change opposed by nearby residents who fear the complex will overwhelm their neighborhood.

The larger apartment proposal comes before the planning commission again on Feb. 1.

The mayor named two replacements for the ousted planning members: Sonja Neperud, a real estate broker and property manager, and Theodore Bunch, whose resume says he works as a “technical specialist/policy analyst” for the Oregon OSHA.

On the Community Development Commission, the council approved the mayor’s move to replace Stephanie Newton and David Abarr with new members Dana Morris and Kenneth Larson. Only Olsen opposed this.

Usually, when people leave any of the city’s volunteer advisory groups, the council votes to send them a letter of thanks for their service. This time there was none of this. Of course I can’t remember a case of anyone being dismissed from these volunteer positions before his term was up. (hh)

The story was edited to correct the work information for Theodore Bunch.

40 responses to “Night of the Purge: Council fires 5 volunteers”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” —- John F. Kennedy

  2. Linda Herd says:

    At the January “Go to Meeting” Arts Commission meeting, I discovered that I had been removed from the Arts Commission. My term does not expire for another year and a half. I received no notice from Mayor Johnson although he told the City liaison that he both called and emailed me. Neither are true. I received no notification from anyone at the City. The City liaison was apologetic and I received an apologetic email from another City employee. I have yet to hear anything from the mayor. This is inconsiderate and unprofessional. I am concerned that this is a sign of things to come in Albany’s new administration. I would like to be proven wrong but am not optimistic.

    • Gary House says:

      You are a huge asset to the arts commission. I don’t get it. This casual unappreciative treatment of active contributors to Albany arts.

    • Scott Lawley says:

      I agree, Linda. You should have been contacted by the Mayor and he should have discussed this with you before you were informed by the city staff. He should apologize to you and anyone else he treated this way. Regardless of the “research” he completed, he should recognize that you are a valuable resource to the city and our arts community.

    • Deborah says:

      Linda, I can not believe he took you off the Arts Commission! You were such an asset to them. How deeply disappointing it is to hear about your removal and the shoddy way it was handled.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Didn’t Abarr also get booted from CARA in 2019 before his term was up?

    Every appointee serves at the pleasure of the appointer.

    And appointers recruit primarily on political criteria. Merit is a distant second.

    “Go along to get along” is the safe response for the appointee who wants to stick around.

    Group think is the outcome, but the appointee’s resume sure looks good.

  4. John Klock says:

    Good riddance Perkins. I heard her interview of the January 6th terrorist attack and was ashamed to live in the same city as her. In the public’s eye, her coverage was way beyond any hint of impropriety and would have been fired from any job using taxpayers money.

    • Bob says:

      You mean the attack that was known about and pre planned with help from the Democrats? I thought so. Keep the wool over those eyes! This country is doing amazing now

  5. TOPTBOSS says:

    A Purge is a fitting word! The mayor’s political views are quite strong via public platforms. His ‘message’ to city of Albany, “I solemnly commit to being an approachable, interactive, responsive, and transparent public servant for every resident of Albany”. The purge is just the beginning. It will be interesting to see how things evolve!

  6. Anthony Tantalo says:

    They have no protection as city officials. Harass them to no end. Enough of the dirty politics in this state. Make them uncomfortable where ever they go. But no physical violence.

  7. Bette says:

    Looks like if you don’t agree with this council, you get the boot! Why even have special committees?

  8. Ray Kopczynski says:

    I would encourage everyone to read the DH article about this here: https://bit.ly/3ady3id

    • sonamata says:

      That’s not an article, it’s a press release. There’s no information on who was terminated or who is replacing them. Nobody was interviewed besides the mayor. It’s extremely concerning that multiple people are disputing the mayor’s statements about how this was handled (such as Linda Herd in the comments above). As a member of city council, perhaps you can provide some clarity on the conflicting accounts?

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        No, it is not a “press release” with a byline from the DH reporter…

        The Mayor has the wherewithal to choose whomsoever he thinks best for the appointments he makes.

        All City Councilors have the exact same process for their appointments.
        I tilted my windmill last night. Time to move forward…

        • Bob says:

          Spoken like a true follower! When the going gets tough! Just give in and comply!!

        • sonamata says:

          It was an analogy, Ray. And I didn’t ask what the mayor is allowed to do. I asked if you can clarify whether the mayor did or did not notify the terminated commission members himself.

        • Lundy says:

          Ray, I respect how you feel on this, and I also respect that the council as a whole has a process for removing someone from a commission. Myself, I find JRP repugnant. Equally repugnant is the belief, repeatedly suggested by the Democrat-Herald, that diversity of thought on its face is a harmful concept. I would suggest that echo chambers are really not very productive.

  9. James Engel says:

    Socialist commission at it’s best. Purge those who might oppose you, brand them as heretics, cast them out and claim a political calm. I thought with Konopa gone for good the City Council it would resort to being more conciliatory in it’s actions. NOPE, more of the same ‘ole, same ‘ole vindictive bunch! Maybe a Salem witch trial a ‘coming?

  10. M. Roy says:

    I think it’s time to give a “Terms of Service” to all the members of the City Council, the Mayor and all the Bureau-Rats that work for them. I present to all of you Professional Service Providers to consider the following “Modest Proposal” (for those educated enough to understand Johnathan Swift):


  11. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Councilor Marilyn Smith is quoted in the DH –

    “I support Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech, but that stops with hate speech and speech and actions that promote and encourage violence and promulgate and perpetuate lies. These words and actions directly oppose the charge and purpose of our commission.”

    My questions to Marilyn: Who decides what is hate speech? Who decides what speech is a lie? The Albany City Council?

    That decision is not up to you, or the council, Marilyn.

    If you truly believe elected politicians such as yourself have the power to make these decisions, you need to be “purged” from the city council.

    As judge Andrew Napolitano said – “The speech we love needs no protection. The speech we hate does.”

    • M. Richner says:

      I also was taken aback by the quote from Marilyn Smith.

      Whenever anyone says “I support Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but. . . ” that little three-letter word, “but,” shouts out that the speaker is clueless about the meaning of free speech.

      • M. Richner says:

        Because my hackles went up when I read Marilyn Smith’s statement quoted in the D-H, there’s no need by my own words to get Mrs. Smith’s hackles up. I rephrase my comment to say: “. . . that little three-letter word, ‘but,’ shouts out that the speaker lacks understanding of the meaning of free speech. It’s easy to approve speech with which we agree, but it takes an open mind and a bigger heart to tolerate speech with which we don’t.

    • Cheryl P says:

      “but that stops with hate speech and speech and actions that promote and encourage violence and promulgate and perpetuate lies.”

      Yeah, that kind of crap bothers me too. Who gets to define ‘hate speech’? Over the last decade, I have watched as too many people’s opinions were silenced under the threat of ‘hate speech’.

      I think some folks need to dust off their copy, or get a copy, of the Declaration of Independence and take a good long read:

      –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

  12. thomas earl cordier says:

    I don’t see the work product of Theodore Bunch. Is he anonymous?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Don’t know what you mean by “work product,” but you can read the resume he submitted on the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting, starting at Page 137.

      • thomas earl cordier says:

        You used the term work “information” which I translated to work “product”. My error.
        It would have been helpful to say the resume’s of all 4 new appointees can be found
        near the end of the agenda packet for 1/27/21 meeting.

  13. Richard Kellum says:

    What is amazing about this is that it is the same situation that happened last year. An outside person from the far left complains about the fact that she is offended by something that a conservative says who is a member of the HRC. The organization that demanded inclusion, Diversity etc should not include people who disagree with them… Hateful. The pity is, the current Council evidently does not have the judgement to know that and are including themselves in the problem by going along with it.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      Just to make it clear, did that person last year attended a rally in front of Congress that ended up as an attempted coup and threat of physical damage to US Representatives and the loss of 5 lives, including a police officer?

      • Richard Kellum says:

        Nice quote from the Democrat playbook, thousands of people there, some did some stuff, and there is evidence that some of them had connections with the folks who have been rioting in Portland etc. It would be nice if there was evidence that the person in question did ANYTHING illegal. If we are to use your standard of “she was there” then All Black Lives Matter people and all Antifa people should be put in prison because SOMEBODY set something on fire in Portland…………………Right????

  14. Jacob Johannsen says:

    Re: The Perkins Purge.

    Thank god thoughtful minds at the Albany City Council recognized Perkins for what she is – a self-aggrandizing fool. Perkins is like Edward Stassen from Minnesota back in the 60s and 70s. He was an attention-seeking doofus who ran for President, for Governor, for mayor, for Dog Catcher and every position one could run for. Thankfully, he was never elected to anything.

    Sadly, his unending lust for political power made him a laughingstock. Unfortunately for the State of Minnesota, this guy’s quixotic tilting at windmills proved to be an unending embarrassment for the mostly reasonable residents of that state.
    Unfortunately, Perkins is NOT an innocent fool. She is the antithesis of what’s needed on a Human Rights Commission. Her presence on that commission was insulting to all of Albany’s residents.

    When it became known nationally that Perkins had gotten the nod for US Senator from the Oregon GOP, Albany became the butt for all the jokes about uninformed politicians continually running unsuccessfully for political office. Additionally, now the Oregon GOP is the laughingstock of the nation because of Perkin’s senatorial nomination.

    Mayor Johnson was spot-on giving Perkins the ignominious boot she so richly deserves. She makes a mockery of democratic government. She should be banned from holding ANY office in Oregon EVER again…including volunteer positions. Good riddance.

  15. Albany YIMBY says:

    “a change opposed by nearby residents who fear the complex will overwhelm their neighborhood”

    What a way to hide their classism and racism. “Overwhelm” is just an euphemism of “we don’t want more poor/brown people living where we live”.

  16. Robert Chandler says:

    Has the mayor been heard from? I don’t see any comments coming from him personally.

  17. Suebee says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with Jacob… anyone who participated in anyway of January 6ths disgrace to our Capitol needs to be removed/banned from holding any official standing in government.

  18. Anon says:

    These are political appointments. As such the people who got elected can appointments whoever they want. There are no lifetime terms that come with any of these positions. Same thing happens at the state and federal level everyday. If this is the biggest thing we have to get charged up about as a community, we are fortunate.


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