Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler took a swipe over the weekend at Measure 110, the 2020 Oregon ballot measure that reduced penalties for the possession of hard drugs, saying that it should be scrapped if it doesn’t provide addiction treatment to the people who need it.
“What was sold to the voting public was, ‘Yes, we will decriminalize some personal amounts of drugs,’” Wheeler said at a community meeting in Montavilla on Saturday. “But the main event was supposed to be the establishment of substance use disorder treatment statewide, including a lot of it right here in the metro area. And here we are two years later, and we’ve seen the decriminalization of hard drugs, but we’re not seeing the treatment.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I’m pissed about that,” Wheeler continued. “It needs to happen and it needs to happen urgently. And if it doesn’t happen, then we need to rethink the basic tenets of that ballot measure. If it’s not working, then let’s just admit it, and let’s move on to something that does.”
The comments are among Wheeler’s harshest yet on Measure 110, which has drawn fire for delays in getting treatment dollars into the hands of practitioners. In an audit released in January, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said a lack of planning and a complex grant-making process delayed the allocation of $300 million in new funding from Measure 110 for treatment and services.
Wheeler said the Oregon Legislature hasn’t done enough, either.
“Our Legislature has not stepped up the way it needs to, with the urgency it needs to around behavioral health or substance use disorder,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler spoke at the Eastside Church of Christ at the invitation of a citizens’ group in Montavilla, in a public forum to discuss a Multnomah County proposal to open a parking lot for people living in their cars. Among the sponsors was Angela Todd, an interior designer who runs the controversial Instagram site PDX Real, where she catalogs the blight that afflicts Portland, including tent fires, graffiti and people struggling with addiction and mental illness.
Todd introduced Wheeler at the event. She posted the clip of Wheeler talking about Measure 110 on her website and plans to put up more. Today, she applauded him for attending.
“Nobody lost their shit,” Todd said. “We didn’t have anyone yelling us down. The biggest problem we have is that people are not involved in their government.”
Wheeler’s office didn’t immediately return an email seeking more details about the event and his remarks.