Portland City Council Adopts Next Year’s Budget Despite Calls for Deeper Cuts to Police

“That $50 million number was built on nothing. There was no analysis done.”

Demonstrators outside Portland City Hall on June 10, asking to defund the police. (Sam Gehrke)

The Portland City Council today adopted its $5.6 billion 2020-21 all-funds budget by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Chloe Eudaly repeating the "no" vote she cast last week.

Eudaly said she could not support the budget in view of the massive outreach from the 700 people who testified on the police budget last week and the more than 70,000 emails she received. Most of those communications, she said, called for a larger—$50 million—cut to the police budget, which is the largest line item in the city's general fund budget.

"I vote no in solidarity with the community," Eudaly said.

In her remarks before voting to approve the budget, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the architect of $15 million in cuts the council approved last week, addressed those who wanted $50 million in cuts—wanted it badly enough that some of them gathered outside Mayor Ted Wheeler's Pearl District apartment this morning to make their point.

"I want to speak now directly to the people who are outraged we didn't have the audacity to cut $50 million from the police budget," Hardesty said. "I want to be clear that $50 million was built on nothing. There was no analysis done. I would have been the first to review the analysis to see if it would hold up."

In her remarks, Hardesty noted that many of the people now calling for action were absent when she and other advocates for police reform pushed for change over the past three decades. She applauded Wheeler and Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who she said moved significantly to support her vision for the police.

"The mark of a true leader is that when they get new information, they change," Hardesty said of Wheeler. "I am so appreciative that you were open to hear from the community and that you were open to those late-night phone calls from me," she said to Fritz. To Eudaly, Hardesty said nothing.

Fritz, who will retire in January at the end of her third term on the council, was emotional in her remarks. She asked Wheeler to post a transcript and video of Hardesty's remarks on the city's website.

"I am moved almost beyond the ability to speak," she said. "Commissioner Hardesty, I am in awe of the work you have done."

In his remarks, Wheeler said a WW article published today left unanswered a fundamental question: Why, if he's police commissioner, is he deferring to Hardesty on police policy and budget issues, and why had he moved so dramatically toward Hardesty's position?

Related: As Protests Against Police Upend Portland City Hall, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Is In Charge.

Wheeler explained that he had come to understand it was time to listen to Hardesty, the only person of color on the council and the person who had spent 30 years engaged in police accountability and reform.

"When you listen and hear facts," he continued, "you, as a leader, have a duty to evolve.

"The reality is very clear. Many, many people in this community do not feel safe in the city of Portland. That requires me to fundamentally rethink what safety means in this community."

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