Portland City Council votes not to slash $18M from PPB

Multnomah County

An analysis by the City Budget Office found that officers would be laid off if the budget cut is approved Thursday, Nov. 5.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — By a 3-2 vote, the Portland City Council decided not to cut another $18 million from the budget of the Portland Police Bureau this fiscal year.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Ryan voted no. Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly — who lost her re-election bid on Tuesday — voted yes to remove the money.

Before the vote, commissioners gave their reasons why they did or did not support Hardesty’s proposal to slash $18 million from PPB and use that money for outdoor shelters for the homeless, housing and food programs.

But a city budget review supported PPB’s claim that officers and staff would be laid off if there was a budget cut of that size.

“As we heard from the police chief and the budget office, the $18 million proposal is a threat to our current public safety,” Ryan said.

Hardesy was not pleased.

“I am disappointed that my colleagues could not envision a life where police only solve crimes and not harrass people who are homeless and the mentally ill,” she said.

But Wheeler – who agreed in June to a $15 million PPB budget cut — did not support more cuts.

The mayor said he was deeply troubled the proposal was not shared with the budget watchdogs at the City Budget Office when it was first presented.

“Without their input, we were unable to nail down even basic facts about the proposal – for example, last week we heard that it won’t require layoffs, which is wrong. It will require layoffs. This is not a detail. This is a critical piece of information. But at the end of the day, this is a discussion about values, not about process, so that’s where I want to focus my remarks.”

He said he’s grateful to the many citizens who weighed in on the issue with their thoughts and concerns and that he heard what they said.

“The testimony we’ve heard is clear: the status quo is unacceptable. Many Portlanders, and most of the people who testified about this item, do not trust the current criminal legal system – they do not trust the Police Bureau.”

Wheeler noted there are many ways to change the status quo, to stop the over-policing of BIPoC and to end excessive force against those with disabilities and mental health issues.

“I am committed to preventing and interrupting these patterns of injustice,” he said. “I believe we succeed in changing the status quo by continuing these conversations and phasing investments in a wide array of services, policies, programs, and skillsets that prevent and interrupt harm, and promote healing.”

Decision likely not reversed with new Council

By Jim Redden, Portland Tribune

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — City voters probably killed the $18 million Portland Police Bureau budget cut proposed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly on election night.

And now that decision won’t be reversed when the next council takes office in January. Wheeler defeated challenger Sarah Iannarone, who supported an even larger cut and promised to assign the bureau to Hardesty. And Eudaly lost to Mingus Mapps, who opposes the cut.

Hardesty lost her cool last week when the council did not immediately vote on the proposal after a five-plus hour hearing. She abruptly broke off from the online meeting after saying she was “disgusted by the lack of courage” from Wheeler, Fritz and Ryan. The next day, Hardesty endorsed mayoral challenger Sarah Ionnarone against, Wheeler, becoming the first council member to support an opponent against a sitting mayor since Commissioner Margaret Strachan backed Bud Clark against Frank Ivancie in the 1984 primary election.

But despite the dramatics, longtime City Hall watchers thought Hardesty had to know there was little chance the council would vote on her proposal during its first hearing. For starters, the council had already cut the police bureau by $27 million in the budget that took effect on July 1. Of that cut, $15 million was proposed by Hardesty and only opposed by Eudaly, who did not think it was enough.

Ryan was not on the council when that first round of cuts was made. He defeated former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta in an Aug. 11 special election. Smith called for cutting the police bureau budget by $50 million during the campaign. Ryan said he thought the budget already had been cut enough for now, and Portland voters chose him.

In addition, even in these days of unprecedented disruptions, Hardesty was taking advantage of an obscure, semi-annual minor budget adjustment process to push for a complete overhaul of the most politically sensitive city bureau. The Fall Budget Monitoring Process — BMP or “bump” for short — historically has only involved small tweaks to city bureau budgets. There is always a one week delay between the first hearing and the final vote to allow the CBO to answer questions from the council members.

More than 150 people testified at the Oct. 28 hearing, most of them in support of the proposal. But they might not be representative of all Portlanders. Only 6% of city residents said “law enforcement” was their top priority in a DHM Research poll conducted for Oregon Public Broadcasting in mid-October. No one mentioned “police funding.”

The 12-page CBO memo can be found here.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

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