Council votes against $18 million Portland Police Bureau cut
The City Council voted 3-2 against cutting $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau budget on Thursday, Nov. 5
The cut had been proposed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. It had been questioned by Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Commissioner Dan Ryan, who voted against it.
The City Budget Office released an analysis Tuesday that found the bureau must lay off employees if the council approved the cut, contrary to what Hardesty and Eudaly had promised.
That decision will likely not 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, semiannual 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.
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