Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz is breaking away from Mayor Charlie Hales' budget proposals—for the second time this year.
The reason is the same: They can't reach an agreement on how much money the city should give to help teenage victims of sex trafficking.
Hales' refusal in May to restore $117,000 in funding to help children who have been forced into prostitution on Portland’s streets, and prosecute their pimps, caused Fritz to cast the only vote against the mayor's meticulously crafted budget.
Now Fritz is planning to hold a separate hearing next month—apart from Hales' budget hearings—to get more money for Janus Youth Programs, which provides services to sexually exploited children.
In the city's fall budget adjustment, Fritz asked for $250,000 to fight sex trafficking. But on Nov. 4, she pulled her request out of the budget process.
She tells WW she will hold a Dec. 4 hearing dedicated to getting that money for Janus Youth Programs.
Sources in City Hall say Fritz only decided to break away after a tense 1-on-1 meeting last month with Hales, who refused to include $250,000 in funding.
Fritz confirms those numbers. "I asked for $250,000 and the Mayor is proposing to fund $70,000 for Janus Youth programs," she tells WW.
Hales has argued that social services like Janus Youth Programs are the purview of Multnomah County, and he has been reluctant to fund them. His office could not be immediately reached for comment.
The mayor's decision to only restore some sexual trafficking funds to the May budget caused Fritz to harshly criticize City Council before voting against the entire budget.
"It is a city function to help victims escape the mental and physical misery in which they are enslaved," Fritz said during the May 29 vote, "since our current level of law enforcement cannot stop men from paying for sex with children and enslaved women. …I am discouraged that the only woman on the Council is the only member who finds this cut unconscionable."
It turned out not to be a symbolic vote: Portland's city charter mandates that budget votes must be unanimous. So commissioners had to return to council chambers to vote again.