While the novel coronavirus pandemic’s deadly toll marches
on, a sideshow scoreboard is counting up local politicians.

In a special two-hour remote meeting Friday night, the
Antioch City Council voted unanimously to remove Ken Turnage II from his seat
on the city planning commission following his social media posting about
“culling the herd” during the COVID-19 crisis.

The comments fueled an online viral uproar that culminated
in the local builder’s booting from his appointed commission term. During the
public video meeting, a city official read off 92 one-minute email comments
sent to the city government website.

The email remarks on Turnage’s posting ranged from “a
social posting about a sociopathic world” to analogies to Nazi Germany, as
well as “despicable,” “appalling,” “a black eye for
Antioch,” “ignorant witch hunt” and “run him off the
commission and run him out of town.”

Turnage’s Facebook post, now removed, said that “the
World has been introduced to a new phrase Herd Immunity which is a good one. In
my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers it ranks, it
allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in

He added, “then we have our other sectors such as our
homeless and other people who just defile themselves by either choice or mental
issues. This would run rampant through them and yes i am sorry but this would
fix what is a significant burden on our Society and resources that can be

After reports came from Bay City News, other newspapers, TV stations
and websites, the now national reaction online and on the airwaves was heated
and “vitriolic” as one commenter said.

Turnage insisted Wednesday he had no intention of resigning
or backing down from his comments. He also strongly objected to being called racist
saying his position was simply an issue of “ecological balance.” He said
he was “baffled” by the reaction to what he called his personal

At the opening of the video meeting, Turnage was allowed to
read a statement in his defense via phone and said, “My personal opinion
had nothing to do with the city or my position on the Planning Commission. So
to try to somehow link them or create a nexus to further your political agendas
is shameful.”

He added, “having it viewed as offensive speech, then
targeting me with repercussion for this is a direct violation of my First
Amendment Rights and should not happen under our Constitution!”

Turnage then made a formal request for “all documents
that pertain to this matter to include but not limited to e-mails, text
messages, recorded phone conversations etc. between and amongst Council Members
and City Staff related to my personal post.”

Turnage also called the special meeting a possible Brown Act
violation and potentially illegal. He added “it would be nice if certain council
members stop race baiting to further their political agendas.”

Before the vote, Council member Lamar Thorpe noted “the
loss in confidence that the posting had caused. The public was incensed.”

Council member Lori Ogorchock deplored “the disruption
to the city” by the “insensitive remarks.” She also asked staff
if appointees to commissions are given adequate training. Mayor Steve Wright
noted politicians are held to a higher standard by representing the city to
all. Council members Monica Wilson and Joy Motts joined in the 5-0 vote to
remove Turnage.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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