Portland, Oregon – Fireworks and frustration dominated discussion at the Portland’s City council Wednesday. The scheduled vote on the Mayor’s proposed budget was postponed until this afternoon. KXL’s Mike Turner reports.
Fireworks over a proposed amendment to take money from the Police Bureau to prevent cuts in the Parks and Rec budget. Frustration from residents like Kelsey Owen who wants to know what she supposed to do about her son’s pre-school arrangement. Kelsie is also looking at spending 900 dollars more a month if Sellwood Community Center closes down. She’s upset. They have scheduled the vote for shortly after 2 pm this afternoon on the Mayor’s proposed budget.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty made some proposals to amendment the City Budget before it went to vote on Wednesday. Read more here:
COMMISSIONER HARDESTY’S BUDGET AMENDMENT PROPOSALS AIM TO SAVE PARKS JOBS AND DEFUND GANG ENFORCEMENT TEAM
Increase Portland Parks & Recreation funding to avoid layoffs through a one-time one-year freeze of cost of living increases (COLA) for all non-represented City employees, including Commissioners; or
Increase Portland Parks & Recreation funding to avoid layoffs through a one-time reduction in Portland Police Bureau’s vacancy savings and reduction in the Body Worn Camera Program
Eliminate the Police Bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (formerly Gang Enforcement Team) and transferring officers to patrol
Increase funding for Portland Fire & Rescue, Portland Housing Bureau, and Office of Community & Civic Life
City Council will be convening two sessions on Wednesday, May 22nd: 9:30am – 1:00pm, and 2:00 – 5:00pm. While the city budget will be discussed during the afternoon session, Commissioner Hardesty notes the morning council vote on cost of living increases will affect the afternoon budget discussion.
Commissioner Hardesty proposes to move the wage increase agenda item to the afternoon council session with the intention of introducing one of the two options to save Parks & Recreation jobs: one-time wage increase freeze for Non-represented city staff. Should the item not be moved to the afternoon session budget discussion, she will be forced to vote ‘no’ on a wage increase for commissioners, their offices, and other non-represented city employees.
Her other proposed option is to avoid Parks & Recreation layoffs by re-appropriating police hiring vacancy savings and body camera program funds.
On the proposal to fund Parks & Recreation through a one-time wage increase freeze, Commissioner Hardesty says, “Our budget is a moral document, and in no way can I vote yes for a raise at the expense of 56 people’s lives. There is fundamental issue if council votes to increase our own wages, at the same time when 56 people are slated to lose their jobs. Although I know that there are many hard working city employees that deserve this increase, many of these increases live at the higher end of the city’s salary scale – while these layoffs live at the bottom.”
In her amendment to defund the Gun Violence Reduction Team and move those officers to patrol, Hardesty says, “From small business owners to community members, many have made clear their concerns in police response time due to the force being stretched thin. If the team is not effective in meeting its stated purpose but exists at the community’s expense, I say it’s time for it to be defunded and officers move back to patrol, where they’re most needed.”
She continues, “in addition to filling a need of putting more officers back on patrol, the City Auditor’s 2018 audits confirmed what many community members suspected: the team conducts its work by profiling communities of color, especially the African American community. More concerning though, is that the Auditor found that not only were the team’s tactics ineffective in reducing crime, but it did a poor job of record-keeping to explain why their traffic stops disproportionately targeted African Americans.
Just this week the City Auditor published a follow-up to the 2018 report and concludes ‘substantial work remains’ in documenting reasons for stops and showing the effectiveness of those stops.”
Commissioner Hardesty will be available immediately for press following the afternoon council session for thirty minutes in front of council chambers.