Newly seated Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan ran on a platform of that included divesting the Portland Police of more of it’s budget, stating “We have to find ways to follow up on the $15 million cuts to the Portland Police budget with even more substantial cuts.” On the night of October 28th, protesters, angry about months of increased police violence, gathered at his house ahead of a city budget meeting to make their voices heard about why these cuts were so necessary. The night before the vote, he stated that he wasn’t sure how he wanted to vote. The next day, after hours of passionate testimony by his stakeholders, he, along with Mayor Wheeler, voted to delay the budget vote for a week.
A week which would take us past the election, and give both the sitting mayor and the commissioner a sense of how the council would look in the 2021 legislative future.
Of course, the city spoke, overwhelmingly supporting 26-217, the measure to rewrite the city charter to massively expand the civilian oversight over the Portland Police. They also barely re-elected Ted Wheeler, and elected Mingus Mapps over Chloe Eudaly to the city council. And in the following week’s budget vote, any thought of further stripping of Portland Police funding was quietly scrapped.
Commissioner Ryan quickly showed his unwillingness to stand up for his campaign promises with his statement at the vote:
This $18 million proposal is a threat to our current public safety.Commissioner Dan Ryan, November 5, 2020 City Council
I feel that Commissioner Hardesty summed things up best when she said:
I knew that when we were passing [city council] resolutions in June that Black lives wouldn’t matter long […] It is disappointing that the status quo will reassert itself in this process. So we’ll continue to talk about Black lives but we won’t actually do anything to make these Black lives betterCommissioner JoAnn Hardesty, November 5, 2020 City Council
These statements have served to re-engage a number of protesters and police reform/abolitionist activists. While the election may be over, there are still options. Recall campaigns can be run after a candidate has been in office for 6 months. That timer has already started for Commissioner Ryan, and Mayor Wheeler’s will start in January when his second term starts.
Local lawyer and transparency activist Alan Kessler has already filed the paperwork for a PAC specifically to start that exploration process. The PAC, named Total Recall, likely after the 1990 and 2012 movies by the same name, recently received approval by the Secretary of State’s office and Mr. Kessler has announced via Twitter:
I have started the PAC to start fundraising. I do not have organizational capacity beyond that for a little while.Alan Kessler (@alankesslr), November 6, 2020 Twitter
Raindrop Works has had a working relationship with Mr. Kessler for some time now, and we’re glad to help get information out about this campaign as time goes.