Council postpones emotional budget vote
The City Council postponed the vote on next year's budget until Thursday after an emotional and personal clash over priorities during Wednesday's hearing.
The delay happened after the council acknowledge too many people had signed up to testify to be heard before the end of the lengthy May 22 hearing.
Eudaly volunteered to postpone her most recent renter reform measures to free up the time for the continued hearing.
Before that, Mayor Ted Wheeler forcefully defended the work of the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which Commission Jo Ann Hardesty proposed to defund with the possible support of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. But Wheeler apologized after Hardesty accused him of disrespecting the two of them by pointing out they did not know the name of the unit, which was formerly called the Gang Enforcement Team. Wheeler repeatedly said he did not mean to offend them.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz then defended the team, saying she has heard from many community members who support it.
The exchange exposed tensions within the city. Hardesty, who is African-American, repeatedly criticized the police during the opening minutes of the budget hearing. She said black and brown people are afraid to turn their backs on officers during traffic stops.
Wheeler said the bureau acknowledges and is working to change its previous problems, saying that the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which now has a focus on all gun crimes.
Much of the public testimiony that followed opposed the proposed cuts in Portland Parks & Recreation. The budget would eliminate 56 positions and close close sevral community center to help eliminate a $6.3 million funding gap. It is unclear how many of the employees would be able to fund jobs in other bureaus.
Hardesty said she wants to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team in part to free up money to prevent the park bureau cuts. She proposed other cuts in the police bureau and other general fund programs for the same reason.
Hardesty's first attempt to formally raise her budget concerns fizzled earlier in the day. She moved that the council delay the first hearing of an ordinance to grant a 3.9 percent cost-of-living-adjustment to city employees who are not represented by unions. The percent is the average of what represented employees are scheduled to receive.
Hardesty wanted to delay the hearing on the ordinance until the council considers the overall budget for the next fiscal year. Hardesty said she could not in good faith vote to give herself a raise at the same time the council is considering cutting some of the lowest-paying jobs in the parks bureau. Wheeler noted the council will not actually vote on the COLA ordinance until next week. Hardesty's motion died when it was not seconded by another other council member, and it was scheduled for a second hearing and vote next week.
Wednesday's hearing is expected to continue for hours.
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