City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly this morning provided further context for her unexpected "no" vote on a motion to adopt the city of Portland's 2020-21 budget yesterday.
Eudaly's vote came after she and her Portland City Council colleagues approved a series of budget amendments that carved $15 million out of the Portland Police Bureau's budget and reallocated the money to programs and line items aimed at addressing historical racial inequities in policing.
As part of the two-day adoption process, numerous Portlanders beseeched the council to cut $50 million from PPB. It was that sentiment, Eudaly told her council colleagues, that prompted her "no" vote. The effect of that vote was that the council failed to adopt the budget yesterday and will vote on it again next week.
Eudaly's vote drew a strong rebuke last night from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the architect of the police reforms that the council approved yesterday. In a statement, Hardesty called Eudaly a "performative ally."
This morning, Eudaly responded:
Yesterday I spoke my mind and voted my conscience. It's rare for me to take that kind of stand when I know that my vote will displease my colleagues, and not change the outcome. With every vote, I strive to advance the best option we're given (often between two less than ideal choices) and support my colleagues. But I have been the lone no vote on items such as our security contract with an international company accused of rampant human rights abuses around the globe, on not selling surplus tasers to other jurisdictions, and on the City reinvesting in corporate securities. And yesterday I was the lone no vote on the budget.
I began the session intending to vote yes, despite feeling that we hadn't gone far enough and not being satisfied with some of the specific details of the amendments. But as the testimony rolled on and I heard the anger, and the grief, and the conviction of our community members, I realized I wanted the 65,000 people who have contacted my office, the tens of thousands more taking to our streets to protest every night, and the several hundred people who testified in support of bolder action to feel heard. That's why I read my unsupported amendments into the record, and that's why I voted no. I hear you, you're right—we must do more—and I'm committed to doing that work with you. I reject any assertion that I should have fallen in line or deferred to any of my colleagues. I am ultimately answerable to my constituents. The reality is that I supported every amendment advanced by my colleagues, and the budget will pass next week. This morning I'm meeting with a group of elected representatives and Black community members to discuss and prioritize next steps at every level of government.
Congratulations to Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Hardesty for the significant progress they have made on reenvisioning our police bureau and our approach to community safety. It was truly an impressive feat in a short period of time. Congratulations to the community who rose up and demanded these changes. This wouldn't have happened without you. In 30 years of political activism, I have never seen anything like this. And after 3+ years of being ground down by the glacial pace of bureaucratic processes, I genuinely feel inspired by your energy and determination to make swift and transformative change. Please take a moment to celebrate this victory and let it sustain you in the coming months and years as we continue to fight for a truly just society.
Keep loving, keep fighting, and be safe out there!