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Plus, plan to improve 82nd Avenue approved and Apple deal with TriMet not the first

PMG FILE PHOTO - Portland City Hall

It looks like the balance of power hasn't shifted on the City Council after all.

The three women members of the council did not vote against the two men on next year's budget last Thursday, May 23. Only Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voted against it.

When Hardesty was elected to the council last year, some City Hall watchers speculated she would consistently team with commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz to form a progressive voting bloc. That happened earlier this year when the three of them outvoted Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish to pull Portland out of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

But Hardesty was unable to persuade Fritz to back her proposal to defund the Portland Police Bureau's Gun Violence Reduction Team and body camera pilot program. Eudaly supported the cut as a "protest vote," but Fritz voiced her support for the police team and voted with Wheeler and Fish to keep both programs.

Hardesty could not persuade Eudaly or Fritz to support her proposal to block cost of living increases for non-represented employees earning more than $80,000 per year, either.

82nd Avenue Plan approved

All but lost in the drama over the City Council's budget vote on May 23 was its passage of an ambitious plan to improve 82nd Avenue.

Although it is currently designated a state highway and owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the approved plan calls for ODOT to upgrade and transfer the major East Portland thoroughfare to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, which envisions a more transit, pedestrian and bike-friendly route. Among other things, the new 82nd Avenue Plan calls for widening sidewalks, new crosswalks and improving existing ones, filling in bike lane gaps, and a lower speed limit for much of the street.

It is not an unrealistic goal. ODOT currently is spending millions to upgrade outer Powell Boulevard, which also is a state highway, before it is transferred to the city. And Metro is considering a regional transportation funding measure for the November 2020 ballot that could help fund future improvements.

Apple deal not so big

TriMet's announcement that its Hop Fastpass is now available on Apple phones and watches generated a lot of press coverage last week. But the same service has been available on Google and Samsung phones for some time.

All three companies allow users to add the electronic passes to their "wallets," allowing riders to board after waving their phones and watches at the readers on MAX platforms and in buses and Portland streetcars.

Apple owners may well find that adding the pass to the phones and wallets is more convenient than using the plastic card. But it means much more to the company. When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the partnership with TriMet and C-Tran in March, he said it was part of Apple's master plan to replace all cash and credit card transactions with its own payment system — called Apple Pay — around the world. Cook said his goal is for everyone to use Apple Pay for all purchases in the future.

Industry experts weren't impressed. CNN Business reported that the industry response was "underwhelming" and called Apple Pay's features "run-of-the-mill."

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