Tuesday’s City of Portland council meeting addressed next year’s budget plans, proposals from council members, and more.
City Commissioner JoAnne Hardesty presented her designs for a safer future, including a budget plan that would see an $18 million reduction in police funding.
In contrast, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed a $1.5 million reallocation from the police budget and $1.9 million from cannabis tax revenues to be directed toward the Black Portlanders program.
“Frankly, it is insulting that this package [originally presented by Mayor Wheeler] assumes reinvesting $3 million in the BIPOC community and making no cuts to the police budget is remotely enough to address the decades of disinvestment in those communities,” wrote Hardesty in a letter.
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Hardesty continued in her letter that she was “incredibly concerned” proposals on the table used Portland Street Response funds to help with the COVID-19 response.
“The audacity to move dollars from a non-police response program during a time calling for police alternatives is astounding to me,” she continued.
“This budget package preserves the status quo. Budgets are moral documents, and this budget has no soul.”
A budget is a moral document and we have big decisions to make next week to ensure we are building a more equitable and resilient Portland. That means listening to the demands of the #BlackLivesMatter movement by reinvesting a bloated police budget into our community. pic.twitter.com/u1uXK3eCqn
— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty (@JoAnnPDX) October 21, 2020
In an alternative plan, Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran echoed a previous notion that the Portland Police Bureau be absorbed by the Multnomah County Sheriff Office, which would turn the leadership of Portland police over to the hands of an elected official.
“I know there are challenges about this. I know it has been discussed in the past,” Commissioner Meieran told the council. “But there are tremendous benefits as well. And I think we at least need this to be part of our conversations as we are re-envisioning justice.”
“Everything should be on the table for community consideration right now,” said Portland Mayor Wheeler, current police commissioner for the Portland Police Bureau.
The 2021 budget proposal will be voted on by the entire council next week.