By Steve Elder | CNA Media Team
As a candidate for Portland City Council, Jo Ann Hardesty campaigned on homelessness and rogue police. She was described by the Portland Tribune as “a long time rhetorical bomb thrower.”
April 3 she reported at the Concordia Neighborhood Association general meeting on her campaign platform – building a livable and sustainable city – and her first three months in office.
The mayor delegated to her four assignments: Portland Fire & Rescue, Bureau of Emergency Management, Bureau of Emergency Communications, and the Fire & Police Disability and Retirement Fund.
Although close, they did not coincide precisely with her platform. However, she said she’s staying on track.
“My goal is to change who first responders are so we’re sending the right people to the right incidents at the right time,” she pointed out.
“Today sometimes we send the police, sometimes we send a fire truck or an ambulance because we don’t know who to send. In 60 percent of the cases, none of those are the appropriate first responders. My goal is to send the right people at the right time.“
She said 911 operators should ask a series of questions on each call to determine whether to send a mental health professional, triage nurse, social worker, police, fire truck or ambulance. Her goal is to have the improvements in place long before her term ends.
“Four years from now we will no longer be sending armed police to address people who have mental health issues.”
According to Street Roots newspaper, funding for that Portland Street Response plan’s pilot program has been committed to date by only Jo Ann, but not yet by her peers.
In addition to 911 response, the commissioner focused on three topics:
Housing: “We didn’t have an emergency until white middle class people couldn’t find a home they could afford. In Portland 10,000 African American families were displaced. They called it ‘development.’”
Building: “We have 16,000 vacant expensive units. If we stopped issuing building permits today, we would have seven years of permits for developers to build whatever they want.”
Public Transportation: In a world class city public transportation should be free.
Steve Elder, East2@ ConcordiaPDX.org, is an inactive lawyer, a developer, activist and old grouch.