Portland commissioner, auditor trade blunt words over budget

Civic Affairs

City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero says she felt disrespected by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's conduct

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland city auditor wants city commissioners to develop a “rule of engagement” for their meetings.

In a letter sent to city commissioners, City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero said she felt disrespected by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s conduct while presenting the budget for the auditor’s office. The budget includes a plan to replace the city auditor’s current Independent Police Review with a new oversight agency.

Hardesty had some strong words for Hull Caballero immediately after the budget proposal.

“I am just pretty much disgusted that we have an auditor that refuses to manage the public finance system,” Hardesty said. “When the voters told you to be independent, they didn’t ask you to be arrogant.”

Hull Caballero said the “personal attacks and shut-downs” are a pattern of behavior from the commissioner. She said, “There are other city employees who I’ve seen go up to the microphone in a council meeting and watch them be humiliated in a public meeting.” Hull Caballero said she feels Hardesty’s reaction distracted them from actually having time to discuss the budget proposal itself. “It’s getting in the way of productivity and distorting our ability to discuss and for them to make decisions,” she said.

Hull Caballero is calling on Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners to make sure she and others get a “fair hearing” in the future. “I would like them to develop some rules of engagement and make it known to those of us who appear before them: what can we expect?”

Hardesty responded with a letter which expresses many concerns over the budget itself. Hardesty also wrote, “Unfortunately, I’m used to these kinds of harmful characterizations as the first Black woman ever elected to the Portland City Council, such as accusations that I am intimidating. That will not prevent me from using my voice to ensure public dollars are being spent responsibly, especially during a bleak financial forecast.”

KOIN 6 News learned Wheeler met with the city auditor on Monday to discuss her concerns and will meet with her again on Friday.

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