Business owner to city council: ‘Tackle crime vigorously’

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Wednesday, hundreds of people voiced their opinions on how Portland should spend its historic budget surplus of $62 million — with funding for the homeless crisis and community safety on the line.

Many expressed frustration over a lack of action by the city in letting these issues reach a boiling point.

Now, one local business owner said he has a message for Portland’s City Council: take “bold, decisive action.”

Michael Maggard owns Five Star Cleaners in Northeast Portland.

He said in a six-week period, his business dealt with multiple shootings, break-ins, burglaries and vandalism. Police response has been slow, Maggard said, and in the meantime, he’s lost employees who no longer feel safe working in the city.

Maggard urged the City Council to “tackle crime vigorously” and address homelessness.

“Go after the criminals who are vandalizing the businesses,” he said. “Go after the criminals that are the gangsters, the drug dealers. I believe the city needs a strong, decisive response.”

Echoing findings from a recent survey, Maggard said he believes the city should hire more police officers — a key element of the mayor’s proposed budget.

“What I hear on the streets from people everyday is that the lack of that strong leadership and response is really creating a lot of despair and frustration and that’s where the flight from the city is coming from,” he said.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he wants to hire 300 more officers to the Portland Police Bureau, offering some recruits a $25,000 sign-on bonus. During a budget meeting in early November, Wheeler also announced his top priorities, including $18.9 million to address homelessness, $7 million for community safety, and $2.2 million for economic recovery. 

A majority of the public commenters at the budget meeting expressed frustration over inaction by city leaders on those issues.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen dangerous forms of meth. No one feels safe in Old Town right now, we have to do something,” Elizabeth Nye said. “If all of you and our county leaders commit together to work as a team I know we can make Portland safe again for all of its residents.”

Since the budget meeting Wednesday, commissioners have voted on and passed some amendments to the budget. KOIN 6 News will have more on the amendments soon.

The overall vote on the Fall Budget Monitoring Process is now set for Nov. 17.

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