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MHCC board censures director Yellott

George "Sonny" Yellot says he will not resign -

YellottThe Mt. Hood Community College Board of Education censured director George "Sonny" Yellott at a Friday evening meeting over remarks Yellott made at board meetings and posts on his personal Facebook page that some considered racist.

The censure said Yellott's “repeatedly reprehensible comments reflect upon the College in Mr. Yellott's public role as a MHCC District Board member, which egregiously differs” from board policy.

“Therefore, the MHCC District Board publicly expresses its abhorrence of ongoing comments and formally issues an official reprimand in the form of public censure,” the reprimand said.

All the board members voted yes on censure at the specially-called July 29 meeting except Yellott, who voted no.

Since the 76-year-old Yellott is elected by the public, he cannot be dismissed from the board and censure is the strongest action the board can take.

The board had asked Yellott to resign in a closed-door session earlier in July, but he refused.

“They asked me for my resignation and I declined,” Yellott said after that July 19 meeting.

After the censure vote, which Yellott called unfair, he said the censure “was a prearranged deal.”

Yellott said he would remain on the MHCC board because “I have a perspective that no one else can see.”

The MHCC faculty organization filed a formal complaint with the board against Yellott on July 18 after specific remarks Yellott made at a July 13 board meeting. That evening, the board was discussing the failure in May of a $125 million facilities bond and Yellott sounded off on illegal immigrants and other issues that some found offensive.

He explained to the Outlook how his comments about immigrants at the board meeting were directly related to the failure and future of the MHCC bond. He said that the bond would be used to expand capacity at the college and that much of the school's growth is coming from “illegal immigrants” and that when Donald Trump becomes president “all these people are going home and then we will have all these empty buildings.”

Yellott, who was elected to MHCC's board of education for a four-year term in 2013, had an entry on his personal Facebook page of a picture that had been altered to look like President Barack Obama with a noose around his neck and a caption that said "the making of a national holiday." Another post showed President Obama's face imposed on someone dressed in Black Panther militaristic garb holding a gun. Both of these posts have been deleted. Yellott said he did not know how the noose photo got on his web page.

At the Friday, July 29 meeting, board chair Susie Jones said that an investigation found that Yellott's remarks on July 13 did not put him in violation of board policy and that “he was exercising his right of free speech.”

But board member Michael Calcagno pressed the issue, introduced the motion for censure and had a heated exchange with Yellott.

Yellott, who also has Facebook posts supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump, the military and the teaching of cursive writing, also holds several positions with the local Republican Party. He is running for Oregon State House District 48, which covers Happy Valley and parts of Portland.

Oregon House Republicans have condemned Yellott. A spokesman for the House Republicans earlier issued a statement that said the Facebook post portraying President Obama and the noose was “absolutely abhorrent.” And it called on Yellott to “withdraw from running for office and apologize to Oregonians for posting something so blatantly offensive and disgusting.”

Yellott reaffirmed Friday night that he would not withdraw from the legislative race.