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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane City Administrator Johnnie Perkins placed on administrative leave

Perkins  (Courtesy photo)

Spokane City Administrator Johnnie Perkins has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into concerns from city employees.

City spokesperson Brian Coddington did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation following reports of Perkins’ being placed on leave. City Council President Breean Beggs wrote in a text Friday evening that he had been informed by the city administration of the action shortly after 4 p.m., but was not told why the investigation was being launched or how long it would last.

In a message to city officials sent shortly before 5 p.m., Coddington wrote that the unspecified concerns from city employees had been forwarded to the city’s Human Resources Department for review, and that the city would have no further comment until the review completed.

If asked about Perkins, Coddington requested city officials “respect the HR process and give it time to come to conclusion.”

As city administrator, Perkins is responsible for implementing departmental policy set by the mayor. The position is often compared to a city’s chief operations officer, with the mayor acting as CEO.

Mayor Nadine Woodward hired Perkins, the former deputy chief operating officer of San Diego, as city administrator on March 2021, filling the post vacated by former City Administrator Wes Crago, who left abruptly and quietly after less than a year on the job in 2020. His initial salary was set at $159,600.

Later that year, former top housing official Cupid Alexander accused Perkins of mistreating him because he is Black. In June, Alexander announced that he would be leaving his post as the city’s director of Neighborhoods, Housing and Human Services after less than a year on the job. He intended to leave at the end of July, but Perkins effectively forced him out sooner.

Alexander was the third – and most prominent – city employee with a major role in housing and homeless services to leave the city since March of 2021.

But Alexander’s departure was met with a different response than those of his colleagues, he alleged in an email to Perkins, on which he copied a city Human Resources official and members of the Spokane City Council.

“I’ve watched as they have come and go, and yet none of them were treated like this, even as they took MONTHS of leave off with zero notice, leaving me and the others to scrape together the work… I’m trying to move on in peace, quite frankly for this EXACT treatment,” Alexander wrote.

“I’m unsure of why I’m being treated like this – I assume it’s race – but I request fairness is done,” Alexander added.

In October 2021, an investigator hired by the city found that the “preponderance of the evidence does not support the allegation” that Perkins or the city acted against Alexander, who was then the city’s only Black division leader, due to his race.