Protests and election loom over today’s police budget vote

Protests and election loom over today’s police budget vote

Screengrab from video by Sergio Olmos shows officers shoving protestors to the ground last night.
(Source: @MrOlmos on Twitter)

With all the political drama of the past week, our local debate over a proposal to cut $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau seems like it happened ages ago. But it’s only been one week since Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called her council colleagues “cowardly” for not voting on her proposal.

The vote is scheduled to happen when council meets again today (11/5) at 2:00 pm.

While the faces on city council haven’t changed, Tuesday’s election is still likely to influence the vote. Hardesty endorsed her ally on the proposal, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly — who lost her race by a large margin. Following Tuesday’s vote, and after she hung-up on the council meeting in disgust before it was officially adjourned, Hardesty endorsed the challenger to current Mayor Ted Wheeler — but he won his race by a comfortable margin (although he failed to win a majority of votes thanks to a large number of write-in votes).

“This was never just about this one budget… tomorrow is not the end of our hard-fought battles in the movement for justice and accountability.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland city commissioner

All of this is likely to make it even harder for Hardesty and Eudaly to find the necessary third vote on the five-member council. Newly seated commissioner Dan Ryan was always seen as the most probably swing vote. On Tuesday he said he felt “rushed” by the process and likened it to the US Supreme Court’s handling of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation. It’s not likely the election helped move him any further toward Hardesty’s proposal.

It’s also notable that Mayor Wheeler’s key concern about the proposal — that would lead PPB officer layoffs – has since been backed up by the City Budget Office.

Hardesty herself sounds resigned to major compromise today (which could of been her goal all along). In a statement last night she wrote, “I want to say that no matter the outcome, together we have effectively moved the conversation back to centering people and that is so important. This was never just about this one budget… tomorrow is not the end of our hard-fought battles in the movement for justice and accountability.” Those are not the words of someone who feels they have momentum on their side.

Battles on Portland streets last night once again proved why Hardesty wants to reduce the PPB budget. With Oregon State Police and National Guard Troops by their side thanks to a move by Oregon Governor Kate Brown to “keep the peace” following the election, the Portland Police Bureau once again took part in tactics that appear to be overly brutal and aggressive. Videos and witness accounts from last night show protestors being thrown to the ground for what appears to be nothing more than exercising their rights to assembly.

Hardesty and Eudaly are very likely to bring this up at council today. Whether or not it’s enough to sway Commissioner Ryan remains to be seen.

The council meeting begins at 2:00 pm and will be live on the City’s YouTube channel. Details on what the proposal would cut and what it would fund can be found below.

Hardesty’s budget amendment would reduce the PPB budget by $18,022,101. Here’s how she would get to that number (see her proposal here (PDF)):

  • Convert the portion of the Police Bureau’s one‐time cut related to the Mayor’s directed 5.6% reduction to ongoing. This totals a reduction of $4,665,885.
  • Eliminate 42 positions that were recently vacated by sworn members who retired in August. This totals a reduction of $7,169,753 and 42.0 FTE. Note that there were 48 retirements in August, but we are unable to eliminate Sergeant positions due to staffing requirements for this job class outlined in the Settlement Agreement.
  • End an IGA between the Police Bureau and the County District Attorney’s Office, where the Police Bureau is paying for 3 investigators in that office to issue subpoenas. This totals a reduction of $425,000.
  • Direct the elimination of secondary employment and further reduce overtime. This totals a reduction of $2,500,000.
  • Reduce external and internal materials and services to correspond with a reduction in FTE and reduce funding for military like supplies and munitions. This reduction totals $2,500,000.
  • Eliminate Special Emergency Response Team funding. This totals a reduction of $633,989.
  • Eliminate Rapid Response Team funding. This totals a reduction of $,633,989.

And here’s where she’d invest the money instead:

  • Increase external materials and services in the Special Appropriations General Fund for the Emergency Coordination Center food assistance program by $7,450,000 in one-time resources.
  • Increase external materials and services in the Special Appropriations General Fund for the Emergency Coordination Center hygiene stations program by $1,075,000 in one-time resources.
  • Increase external materials and services in the Special Appropriations General Fund for the Emergency Coordination Center outdoor shelter program by $1,050,000 in one-time resources.
  • Increase external materials and services in the Special Appropriations General Fund for the Emergency Coordination Center household essentials program by $300,000 in one-time resources.
  • Increase external materials and services in the Portland Housing Bureau General Fund by $7,547,101 in one-time resources for universal eviction defense.
  • Increase external materials and services in the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability General Fund by $500,000 in one-time resources to help address the digital divide for our disabled community members.
  • Increase external materials and services in Portland Fire & Rescue General Fund by $100,000 in one-time resources for increased Crisis Intervention Training.
  • Increase General Fund Contingency Policy Set-Aside by $1,000,000 in ongoing resources for the creation of a Latinx Youth Development fund.
  • Increase General Fund Contingency policy set-aside by $2,500,000 in ongoing resources for Portland Street Response.
  • Increase General Fund unrestricted contingency by $14,522,101 in ongoing resources to provide stability to FY 2021-22’s General Fund budget, or to be available for additional emergent community needs.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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