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‘Fund jobs, parks’: Portland budget gets public forum

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland city officials held a public forum Tuesday evening to discuss the city’s budget and hear the public’s opinion on proposed cuts. 

A group of protesters gathered ahead of a public forum to discuss the next Portland city budget and where cuts are or are not acceptable, April 2, 2019 (KOIN)

Many groups gathered ahead of the forum at the Irco Building on Northeast Glisan to raise awareness for changes they believe need to happen. 

Some were calling for no job cuts and no closures in the Portland Parks & Recreation department. Instead, they want cuts to fall on the shoulders of the Portland Police Bureau. 

Members of the Democratic Socialists of America Portland said they didn’t want a single cut under the new budget. 

City officials are considering closing the Columbia Pool — North Portland’s only indoor pool — and the Selwood Community Center. 

“This is bigger than a budget issue — this is a quality of life issue,” said former park ranger Christina Harris with Laborers’ Local. 

LeeAnne Griffin, an employee with the parks department, attended the rally. She called the city’s proposed budget “shocking and devastating.” 

“We’re in a time when we have plenty of money,” said Griffin. “We shouldn’t be going for the front line positions.” 

Nothing yet finalized

Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke at the forum and told those gathered inside the community center that the budget had not been finalized and the feedback city officials would hear at the forum would play a role in their decision-making. 

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty reassured those gathered that the forum only marked the beginning of the budget discussion. 

“It’s clear sitting here that people have some misconceptions about what’s been done and what’s been decided,” said Hardesty.  

Hardesty added that the budget shortfall is hefty. 

“What has been put out is a proposal from the director of parks,” she said. “Understand that there’s a $7.6 million deficit.” 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke at a public forum addressing the city's budget, April 2, 2019. (KOIN)

Earlier in the day:

As part of the city’s budget process, officials with the Portland Police Bureau testified to City Council.

The assistant chief told the City Commissioners that out of more than 60 people who applied for public safety specialist jobs, only 3 passed background checks. The biggest reasons for their disqualification is past drug use or dishonesty in their application.

Police applicants who have used marijuana in the past year don’t pass a PPB background check because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly both told Chief Danielle Outlaw they are not OK with her plan to cut public self-defense training classes as a move toward the 1% budget cut requested by Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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