Vote On Portland Budget, Police Funding, Delayed As Mayor Grieves

By Rebecca Ellis (OPB)
June 10, 2020 6:30 p.m.

With Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler absent from city business Tuesday, the city council’s planned vote on the budget will be pushed to Thursday.

The mayor's mother, Leslie Wheeler, died Tuesday night. She had previously been in hospice care.


“She went peacefully, surrounded by family,” Ted Wheeler wrote on social media. “The sadness and grief I feel is surpassed only by overwhelming gratitude I feel for her.”

Portland’s budget vote comes amid national outcry over police brutality and calls to make drastic cuts to the budgets of police forces.


Related: Portland To Redirect Millions In Police Funding, Dissolve Gun Violence Team

A hearing scheduled for Wednesday has been eagerly anticipated by many Portlanders, who planned to use the time to push the council to move funding from the police bureau’s budget and redirect it into the community. More 700 people have signed up to testify, according to city officials. This testimony will still go ahead as planned.

But Wheeler, who serves as the city’s police commissioner, will not be in attendance as he grieves.

In the past few days, most of the council has signaled they will support amendments to the budget that would reallocate money into community services. Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly, as well as  Wheeler, have all said they want to dissolve the police bureau’s gun violence reduction team, which targets gun violence, as well as the transit division, which provides law enforcement for TriMet. Hardesty has long criticized both of those police teams as being biased against the Black community.

The commissioners have also said they want to see more funding go to Portland Street Response, which assigns unarmed first responders to answer 911 calls related to people experiencing homelessness. The commissioners have also verbally supported stopping money from the cannabis tax going to the Portland Police Bureau.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Wheeler said he would like to see $7 million in total taken from the police budget and put into other services.

It’s not immediately clear whether these amendments will be introduced on Wednesday or commissioners will wait for Thursday when the mayor is in attendance.