Albany, Oregon is small city of about 52,000, 75 miles from Portland in the southern end of the Willamette Valley. Portland and Multnomah County are a little pocket of Liberalism surrounded by the rest of a state that leans Libertarian with serious Republican overtones. Albany is county seat of Linn County, and the 11th largest city in Oregon, predominantly an agricultural and manufacturing center that was founded in 1848.
Things can get a little interesting in Oregon when you leave Portland. Yesterday, after a contentious meeting, the Albany City Council voted against changing the Albany Human Relations Commission municipal code to include the words “Diversity” and “Equity”, while removing the word “Harmonious”.
The Albany Democrat-Herald newspaper reported the council meeting room was filled beyond capacity on July 12. Most people who spoke favored including the new language, citing Oregon’s history of Racial Inequity and personal stories about a lack of diversity in Albany.
Councilman Rich Kellum opposed the changes at a previous meeting, when he said diversity and equity were buzzwords used by Black Lives Matter and other groups. During that meeting, Kellum described people who support equity and diversity as “those people”.
Before the city council voted yesterday, Kellum addressed the crowd. He announced that he had friends in high school that were Mexican and Indian and that he had a friend in the Navy who was a Mexican.
Kellum said he judges people on their character, not their color. He said he once fired a woman not because she was a minority but because she lied to him. Kellum:
“And that’s when I learned all I needed to learn about lipstick lesbians…”
According to the local newspaper, the crowd jeered at that comment.
Kellum was among the majority in the 4-2 vote against adding the Equity language.