Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said she is ready to fight over Mayor Ted Wheeler's proposed budget for the next fiscal year Thursday.
The day after Wheeler released his $577.3 million budget, Hardesty issued a press release with her own priorities. They include defunding the Portland Police Bureau's Gun Violence Reduction Team — formerly called the Gang Enforcement Team — defunding the bureau's body camera program, and not providing funding for the James Beard Market, Mt.Tabor Historic Preservation work, and the water taxi service study.
"Our police force is stretched thin — I don't think it's appropriate to continue funding a team that has been shown to racially profile and produce no evidence their tactics were effective in alleviating gang activity," Hardesty said of the Gun Violence Reduction Team cut. "Let's end this program and put those officers back on patrol to fill vacancies, where they're severely needed."
Hardesty also said funds budget for vacant police bureau position that have not yet been filled should be redirected to other bureaus, including Portland Parks & Recreation, which is facing a $6.3 million shortfall.
"Our community and staff depend on these places to be open when we say they'll be open. Shutting down even one causes everyone undue stress, whether it's financial or emotional," Hardesty said.
Hardesty said she would propose the changes as an amendment to Wheeler's proposed budget during the public hearing scheduled for Thursday, May 9. It is unclear whether she has the two other council votes needed to adopt it.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said he and Hardesty agree about more of the proposed budget than they disagree.
"Commissioner Hardesty and I are more aligned on our budget priorities, than divided. While we may not always agree on some priorities, especially around public safety, my administration will always work to collaborate together with her office to make sure we have a strong budget that serves all Portlanders in the most effective way. I look forward to working with all of our commissioners as we finalize the budget," Wheeler said Friday morning in response to a request for comment.
Commissioner Nick Fish told the Portland Tribune on Thursday that he supporters Wheeler's "well-crafted" budget. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly's Office said she needs to learn more about Hardesty's proposed amendments. Commissioner Amada Fritz said, "As happens every year, I am working with my colleagues and listening to community input to develop as much consensus as possible following the release of the Mayor's Proposed Budget."
Hardesty released her proposal despite Wheeler funding one of her top priorities in his proposed budget — a Rapid Street Response program to better respond to people experiencing mental health crises in Portland. The program would be developed by a public safety working group organized by the Chief Administrative Officer. It is to be presented to the City Council no later than Nov. 15, 2019.
"A budget is a moral document, and our document is worth $6 billion. We have the resources to do what we need to do to support all Portlanders — it's just the matter of making the choice to fund services and programs that align with our communities' values and show we're listening to what they need and want. When I ran for office I told Portlanders I would not be working in silos. It's ludicrous to think I'm only going to look out for the bureaus in my portfolio when the budget affects if and how our communities are able to thrive," Hardesty said.
You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on Wheeler's proposed budget here.
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