Political emails are being sent to a neighborhood association list

Residents in the Hidden Springs neighborhood are once again confused and frustrated by emails coming from a source misrepresenting the neighborhood association.

On Oct. 23, some residents in Hidden Springs received a forwarded email from City Councilor Teri Cummings sent from “Hidden Springs Nbrhd Associates.” The email contained Cummings’ endorsement to write in former mayor David Dodds in the Tuesday election.

The email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., long used by former HSNA president Lynn Fox, is not the official email address of the neighborhood, but many residents have it confused. In fact, the email address has caused issues for several years now. The most recent email drew complaints from residents to city hall and the neighborhood association.

“We have been made aware that some of the city councilors, NA presidents and an unknown number of HSNA residents at one time, and some may still believe that her correspondence is actually from HSNA,” wrote HSNA President Alex Kachirisky and Vice President Scott Howard in an Oct. 23 email to the mayor, city councilors, city manager and neighborhood association presidents. “It has caused a series of problems for us to disentangle.”

On the recipient list are names and email addresses of those from when Fox was the neighborhood president. After being ousted in 2010, Fox was supposed to forward the list to the next president, Kachirisky. This never happened, and Fox has allegedly continued to use the list for her own purposes, a violation of city regulations.

In March 2011, a city attorney sent Fox a cease and desist letter from the city telling her to stop using the email list.

When questioned by a resident about how her contact information was obtained, Fox replied in an Oct. 24 email: “All email participants provided their email thru (sic) the public records process at public meetings or self submitted their email information.”

If those public meetings Fox referred to were neighborhood association meetings, then Fox should not be using those email addresses, according to the city.

Fox has a long history of civic activism in West Linn and has been in the middle of more than one controversy. Last year, she was charged with defacing a campaign sign supporting the police station bond issue. She also has filed a laundry list of complaints to various city branches and is known for filing numerous record requests.

Because the neighborhood associations are arms of the city government, the associations cannot endorse or spread a political agenda. To do so is an election violation.

West Linn’s 11 neighborhood associations are considered advisory boards to the city council, but they fulfill that role in varying degrees. Some are active participants in land-use discussions, with representatives attending development meetings at city hall and elsewhere in the region, and holding monthly meetings for neighborhood residents. Each association has its own bylaws guiding neighborhood meetings and elections.

Kachirisky and Howard have grown tired of what they consider a misuse of the email list and the misrepresentation of the address. There have been numerous times the email list has been used for political as well as personal purposes, according to Kachirisky, who added that the email list is used almost monthly.

“At this rate, we just want more people aware of what is happening,” Kachirisky said.

In November 2009, Fox used the email list to send a letter asking residents to sign a petition for a recall of three sitting council members.

In February 2011, Kachirisky wrote a column to the West Linn Tidings on the subject. At the time, political cartoons were being distributed via Fox’s email that some found offensive.

“The ‘Associates’ are misrepresenting themselves to our community. With such deliberate obfuscation, they do our community, struggling to repair relationships after a divisive term, no favors,” Kachirisky wrote.

Kachirisky and Howard also expressed disappointment in Cummings for distributing her endorsement through the Hidden Springs Neighborhood Associates email.

The neighborhood association board has had issues with Cummings in the past. In 2010, after board elections were held for Hidden Springs, Fox contended the election was not valid. At the Feb. 22, 2010, city council meeting, Cummings referred to the residents who voted as an “angry mob,” according to Kachirisky.

When the latest email was distributed with Cummings’ endorsement of Dodds, the frustration grew.

“We are very frustrated that a sitting city councilor is directly and intentionally undermining a city institution: a neighborhood association that exists because it is part of the municipal code,” Kachirisky and Howard wrote in the Oct. 23 email. “These childish transgressions hardly have a place in middle school or high school — certainly not in our adult lives.”

At the conclusion of their letter they suggest Cummings should vacate her position as a city councilor.

In response to the letter, Cummings replied that she never called the group an angry mob and that she sent the letter “to a whole group of people.” However, the email sent is addressed “Dear Hidden Springs Neighborhood Associates.”

She also wrote: “People have the right to organize and vote for different officers.”

A string of back and forth emails ensued between Cummings and Kachirisky and Howard, with more and more people added with each exchange.

“You cannot feign ignorance or deny your clear intention that Ms. Fox would forward your email since you directly ask her to ‘share with your friends and fellow citizens,’” Kachirisky and Howard wrote.

“Teri is giving validity to an entity she knows shouldn’t be sending out this information,” Howard said.

Cummings, who declined to comment, referred to an Oct. 25 email sent to another resident. In it, she said, “The Constitution protects our right to free association ... I will freely talk or associate with any citizen, including you.

“State election laws prohibit public bodies from swaying results of measures or candidates ... Three councilors and the city manager have been penalized for several election violations, none of which I had a part in.

“I just don’t fit in ... I have trouble not taking things like this seriously. I wish everyone the best of luck.”

In spring of 2011, the presidents of the neighborhood associations started meeting to talk about process and communications. As a result, the associations are moving to a centralized email process through MailChimp that will keep email addresses confidential.

It is Kachirisky and Howard’s hope that this new system will help prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

Fox declined to comment on this story.

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