Splendid Cycles Big Sale

‘My bike is my car”: An interview with Portland City Commissioner-elect Mingus Mapps

Posted by on November 10th, 2020 at 9:05 am

(Photos: Mingus for Portland)

Mingus Mapps is ready to take his seat on city council.

The 52-year-old southeast Portland resident will be part of the most racially diverse council slate in our city’s history. His first elected office comes after decades of experience in academia, nonprofits, and city government.

I spoke to Mapps via a Zoom video call last week. Our conversation below has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What type of bicycle rider are you and how to you typically move around the city?
Cars kind of don’t work for me, partly because I’m a single dad and I have two kids I just never liked the feeling of driving with two little kids in the back. There’s a lot of risk with cars and there’s also a racial component to driving, which is frankly awkward. And if I can avoid it I generally do. I’m lucky in that I live in inner southeast which means I can take my bicycle or public transportation to most places I need to be. And frankly, up until we really got involved in the campaign, I was not into cars at all. The campaign kind of forced me inside a single use automobile which was interesting because I hadn’t really been in the car for decades. So that gave me a different perspective on the city. I’m also a bus guy. I just grew up taking the bus and then it became a habit. Like, why would you drive downtown when you could take a bus or walk or ride?

Mingus and his two sons.

In terms of the kind of bicyclist I am, I’m a commuter bicyclist. When things get normal again I’ll ride my bike back to my office at City Hall. I’m not someone who does a 30-mile ride around the city — well sometimes we’ll do that recreationally with the kids — but for the most part, my bike is my car, and I buy crappy bikes that I don’t care if they get stolen.

Do your boys ride bikes with you too?
Oh, absolutely. We have 10 and 11-year-old boys. We go out for bike rides on the weekends. We’ll maybe go along the waterfront or over the bridges, especially now with Covid where you’re trapped inside having any sort of excuse to kind of get out of the house and exercise is huge. Bikes are wonderful, really indispensable. I’m an advocate for the bike community that’s for sure.

Is there anything you want to share about biking while Black in Portland?
I’ve had good experiences. You know there are not a lot of people of color who are on their bikes, and there is sort of a Portland bike scene which is not particularly diverse. And I would love to challenge the bike community to figure out how to be more inclusive and I think our office can be part of that. It’s different today than it was even 10 years ago where there were not a lot of efforts at all to get people of color involved with the bike community. Now I see organized events, you know, like Black women rides, and that sort of stuff. I’m excited for that. I think it’s really important.

“The bike people and the public transportation people are gonna be what the 21st century is about. The question is, how long do we take to get from here to there. And, and how does that impact the people who are here today?”

You said during the campaign that if Portland had a different form of government — with a city manager instead of five co-equal commissioners — we could implement the Bike Master Plan faster. Can you explain why?
I think if you take a look at any complex project that you try to implement in Portland, it’s always hindered by our siloed form of government, getting different bureaus to work together and to collaborate, even sometimes just getting managers from different bureaus in the same room at the same time can be really difficult. I think any complex problem in the real world requires collaboration between different programs and different bureaus, and in the context of Portland, often different governments. Our current form of government is designed specifically designed to hinder that kind of collaboration, so I think it’s just time to move forward. I think that’ll help with the Bike Plan too.

One reason biking is not growing in Portland is that it’s no longer a major priority in City Hall. Do you agree with that? And will you personally help shepherd the issue back to the forefront?
I’m with you on this. I think cycling is part of the solution. We’re moving towards a different future and a different kind of city. And one of the important things is that our city needs to be resilient. We can have an earthquake, we can have a pandemic, public transportation can get shut down; so having a way for people to move around without burning gas is incredibly important. Cycling is also just really great for individual health. I’ve been on my bicycle a lot less over the past 18 months and I can literally feel it in my body and in my soul. So I think you have a healthier, happier city when you have more people cycling.

[Former Portland Mayor] Sam [Adams] and I talked several times and he’s really proud of his bike legacy, which has kind of fallen off the map, so he’s been kind of poking and prodding me on that. I hope to work with you and the other folks in the bike community to figure out how we move forward with a balanced transportation plan. Another thing I hear is business owners saying, ‘I need a parking spot in front of my place,’ and I hear from people who have physical disabilities who say they want to use public transportation or bikes so you can’t take these things away.

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I think everyone in City Hall, and a vast majority of Portlanders for that matter, would agree with you that cycling is great. But “balance” is the key here. There comes a time where you need to strongly encourage cycling and strongly discourage driving. Do you think we have that balance right at the moment?
Probably not. I need to learn a lot more about the technical pieces of this — like how do you actually measure and estimate what the impact of doing one versus the other is. But I know that the infrastructure in Portland is going to change and I know that when we change it I don’t want to just replace what we have with a bigger, fatter version. I think when we come back from Covid we’re going to have a different kind of city. I don’t know if we’re going to go back to the world where people go and work in big office towers downtown. Portland will become more localized and people will be set in their own neighborhoods, and I think that’s great because we all want these walkable integrated neighborhoods.

If terms of specifically, do I have a plan in my back pocket right now or a secret formula that balances the interest of people that are really invested in their vehicle or their car versus people who really want this bike future? I’ll tell you who’s gonna win long term: The bike people and the public transportation people are gonna be what the 21st century is about. The question is, how long do we take to get from here to there. And, and how does that impact the people who are here today?

The city has an opportunity to put bike lanes on Hawthorne Boulevard. Does that sound like a good idea to you?
I want to talk to the people who work or live on Hawthorne and get a better sense of what they want to do. I live close enough that I spend a lot of time there. I’ve heard the discussions and seen the posters, and I think it’s an exciting vision, but I think this is a classic example where we need to have a community meeting where we get together with the bike people and people who own storefronts and really have this conversation. And I don’t know how it actually impacts your pizza store if suddenly you don’t have … [he paused here, as if to catch himself before saying something he might regret]… if the infrastructure around you changes. But I want to make it work.

Do you support a shift of of traffic law enforcement away from the Portland Police Bureau to an alternative model? And if so, what should that model be?
I’ve heard Commissioner Eudaly talk about trying to take traffic enforcement away from the police and put it into PBOT. Unfortunately, in the context of campaigns sometimes you can’t ask, ‘How is this actually going to work? What’s the vision here?’ I don’t know exactly what she was talking about. It’s an interesting idea. I don’t know for instance, how you approach pulling over drunk drivers.

You’ve mentioned your concerns with DUI before. For me, this issue is also about trust. As in, can the public trust armed PPB officers in these situations? If you were able to hire more police officers to enforce DUI, would you trust PPB officers to enforce it in a fair and just way?
I do think we have some work to do there. I think this is one of the things that Commissioner Hardesty has been pointing out. Just look at the stats of who is pulled over and there are stark racial disparities. Your probability of being pulled over as a Black man is way higher than if you’re a white guy. And literally, this is not just a statistical thing, this is something that if you’re a Black person you actually feel. I am your next city councilor and I avoid driving cars because when I get behind the wheel of a car, I have fewer civil rights than everyone else. And that’s the only time I give up my civil rights is when I get into a vehicle and I’m behind the wheel. I think those concerns are real and they point to the need for real police reform. I think Commissioner Hardesty is right about this, and if it’s a product of systemic racism, we need to fix it.

Do I think that we can reform the police department and uproot systemic racism? I think so. I’ve been in lots and lots of meetings over the past 10 years and it’s very rare that I hear anyone say, ‘You know, I want to approach policing and public safety from a racist point of view.’ I think everyone gets that that’s a problem and they want to move forward, especially I think our new generation of people in the public safety community, we all get this.

And over the past seven months we’ve had this remarkable moment now where I think white Portlanders are starting to see the ways in which systemic racism shapes the lives of their neighbors and warps life in our city. So I do think that we can make reforms to the police department. I don’t think it is fundamentally broken, I think it’s a fundamentally difficult problem — just like balancing the interest of bikes and cars is a fundamentally difficult problem.

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Zoom zoom.

Would you have supported Commissioner Hardesty’s $18 million police budget cut proposal?
Number one, there were a bunch of questions I had. I had some questions about the process. Even up until the day before the vote there were questions about the exact impact these cuts would have, you know, would this require staff cuts? And then if you go back four days ago the police department [sic] was saying if we do this, it’s going to require us to stop doing traffic enforcement. Pieces of it just felt kind of muddy and unclear. And I think that’s kind of what council said — not necessarily that anyone opposed a specific cut, but rather the process kind of felt uncomfortable. There were pieces that I fully endorsed, like cutting funding for munitions I think makes a ton of sense.

I think the real problem here was that the set of proposals and cuts that was put before council didn’t go through the budget analyst office. We didn’t calculate the impact these specific cuts would have on real public service, and that’s a problem. I think one of the things that is unique and sad about this moment in Portland, is that we’re actually not as good at public policy as we should be. We don’t always think through the consequences of the decisions that we make. We can be kind of knee-jerky about it.

So just to be clear, you would have voted “no” on the budget proposal?
Probably, yes. It’s a hypothetical and it’s always a trap to get sucked into a hypothetical. But you know, I heard some questions raised the other day, which struck me as being very reasonable and important. But I also want to make clear that it’s obvious that the future of the Portland Police Department [sic] means it’s going to be smaller. It’s going to be reformed to where our approach to race and policing is going to be really different. And I think a lot of things that are currently being done in the police department are not going to be done by the police department anymore. I am quite serious about getting cops out of the business of policing mental illness and poverty. And once we do that that’s going to decrease their footprint.

Why should Portlanders trust you on police reform after you accepted a $15,000 donation from the Portland Police Association (the union that represents PPB workers)?
Let’s back up and put this in context. During the campaign you meet with lots of different groups, including unions. I don’t think we turned down a single meeting over the course of the campaign. I’m a labor guy and I think that’s important in terms of of respecting the rights of working people. The police union invited me and Eudaly in to their endorsement panel. We basically had the same talk that you and I have had except we talked about public safety issues more. And then at the end of they said, ‘We endorse you’. I think what really gets missed here is that I participated in public financing for this race, which means I couldn’t take any cash donations from unions or businesses or PACs [political action committees] — I could only take in-kind donations. So the police did an in-kind donation for printing and delivering some mailers. Does that influence me? Actually no, not at all. I think that the endorsement is a sign that I’m a constructive guy who’s been doing public safety stuff for a long time, that I’m someone who will invite everybody to the table — including the police department. That is a value that I will bring to everything I do in City Hall. And I think that it will result in better policy.

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If you were put in charge of the transportation bureau, would you continue Commissioner Eudaly’s Rose Lane Project?
In political campaigns you run against an opponent, but I’m not here to erase Eudaly’s legacy. I think she did a lot of great things and I think there are some things that she could have done better on. The Rose Lane thing is something that’s generally been positive. I’m kind of a process guy and a public public participation kind of guy so I think we could have done better there. I do not have a list of things that my opponent did that I’m going to erase just because my opponent did them. In fact, quite the opposite: I want to write the next chapter. This is not about the past.

People living along paths like the Springwater is a big issue. Many people are afraid to use these paths and the conditions are often unsafe for campers too. I know you’ve worked closely with homeless Portlanders before when you were the leader of Historic Parkrose. What would you do about this path problem?
Camping on the bike trail is not good for anybody. As a city we need to come up with real alternatives for homeless folks. We also need to emphasize cleaning up the camps. Then we need to do outreach. I want to see us be much more aggressive about doing outreach to the houseless community and letting them know what services are out there and trying to connect them with those services. We have to take livability issues seriously. I know what it’s like to show up at work in the morning and the first thing you do is to pick up the needles outside the front door of your office or your home or the dog park.

“This is one of those pivot points where the world is going to be really different and if there’s a window of opportunity that has opened up, we need to take advantage of it.”

Did you support the Metro transportation funding measure? Any thoughts on why it didn’t pass?
Well obviously a lot of money was spent to to kill it. And the politics behind it felt a little bit weird. I think that kind of raised questions in a lot of people’s minds. And I think it was received differently on the east side of the river, versus the west side of the river. I supported it. What I was really excited about were the road improvements on the east side. One of my deep concerns is the lack of equity in terms of infrastructure surrounding the city and I thought this was a great opportunity to fix some roads in outer east.

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“This is kind of like the depression. This is kind of like World War II. This is one of those pivot points where the world is going to be really different and if there’s a window of opportunity that has opened up, we need to take advantage of it.”

Without the Metro measure, do you think we need to have more urgency around congestion pricing?
I do. What are our options here? We don’t want to expand the highway and projects like building a train line take a lot of time and are also really expensive. I am deeply intrigued by congestion pricing. I think it’s one of the first options we’ve got to look at. And frankly, it seems like our best first option… I think congestion pricing is kind of the obvious next step.

Do you think it’s time for a faster pace of change when it comes to making progress on these challenging issues?
Yes, speed is important. But also getting the policies right is also important. I think sometimes what you see coming out of City Hall is you get knee-jerk reactions to whatever is in the headlines or trending on Twitter. And then suddenly we’re spending enormous amount of money because this is what people are talking about today. In some ways that can be a disservice to people if you haven’t thought things through, because they aren’t going to work. And so even though you appear to be a champion for the cause you were trying to lead, in practice you’re doing a disservice to those folks. This isn’t a call for incrementalism, but this is a call for process. This is a call for community engagement.

You talk about being a “bridge builder” and not wanting to have winners and losers. Do you think it’s possible to make substantive changes and have everyone happy and the end of the process?
I have no expectation that everyone will be happy at the end of the process, but I hope everyone got a fair hearing, that we did evidence-based decision making and we respected where Portlanders are at. One of the realities here is that Portland is a diverse community. This is one of the things we celebrate. It’s not necessarily a weakness, but it is one of the reasons we have vigorous discussions.

This is a remarkable time in our nation’s history and the world’s history. I think Covid has changed everything, I think climate change is changing everything, I think growing inequality is changing everything, I think impatience with racism is changing everything. In six months I hope that we are going to exit this Covid crisis, but we’re not going back to that world we had before. It’s just not an option. We can’t step back, so change is coming. The question is, how do we manage that change and how do we use this sort of moment of turmoil to get to the community and the city that we want to have? This is kind of like the depression. This is kind of like World War II. This is one of those pivot points where the world is going to be really different and if there’s a window of opportunity that has opened up, we need to take advantage of it. If we don’t take advantage of it you know it’s not like change won’t happen. It’ll just mean we don’t control the change that happens.

I very much want to empower all Portlanders to control the change that is about to happen to us.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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maxD
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maxD

This is a great interview, I feel very optimistic about him!

Momo
Guest
Momo

I agree, this is all very encouraging and I hope he turns out to be a good addition to City Council.

 
Guest
 

One quote of Mapps stands out to me, and that’s: “I need to learn a lot more about the technical pieces of this”. Anyone who is willing to admit that they’re never done learning has my utmost respect, and I think this is an incredibly good sign for his tenure.

D'Andre Muhammed
Guest
D'Andre Muhammed

Definitely a nice shift away from arrogance and negativity of Chloe Eudaly. I remember Ted Wheeler pretended to be a cyclist, but it looks like Mapps practices what he preaches. Peace.

one
Guest

Ted Wheeler (After getting elected and saying that he was so bikey), DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SUNDAY PARKWAYS IS. How can anyone who is involved in this city (Even if they hate bikes) not know what Sunday Parkways is?!?

buildwithjoe
Guest

That’s marketing. Other examples: I need more time to understand the complex issues of climate change and wider freeways. I can’ not at this time say I oppose project x. I want to learn more is coded language.

tee
Guest
tee

Agreed. This made me feel even better about voting for him instead of Eudaly.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I think this is the first time that I was informed that the Police Union’s contribution was in-kind. In his debate with Chloe and on the media, and in the way the question was asked here, I think everyone would assume it was a cash contribution. Good to get clarification, even if it is a bit late.

JaredO
Guest
JaredO

As someone who’s worked on campaigns, there’s really no difference. If you can get someone to pay for something you’d want to pay for, the value is exactly the same. The campaign needed printing and mailing. They did it.

It’s a ridiculous statement, unless the in-kind was something the campaign wouldn’t have done otherwise. And this is exactly the sort of thing the campaign wanted.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

“unless the in-kind was something the campaign wouldn’t have done otherwise”

This is the key difference. We don’t know the answer to that question. His answer is completely reasonable. We’re talking about a tiny amount of money, here. There is no reason to think he owes them anything.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I always thought it offensive that Chloe’s campaign would insinuate that a Black man with two young Black boys, the exact demographic most at risk from racism from law enforcement, would be “bought” by the police for a few boxes of printed flyers. And that they’d mislead voters into thinking it was a cash donation, then lambaste Mingus’ campaign for not “returning” it.

Anyway, in politics you can’t buy someone with a contribution, unless there is the expectation of more contributions down the road. It’ll be hard to get anyone to accept a donation of so much as one sheet of paper from the PPA in future.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

She eventually became a mini-Trump. Not expanding her base and only appealing to her core supporters.

tee
Guest
tee

She always was a mini-Trump.

Javier Sodo
Guest
Javier Sodo

Yep, Hardesty, Eudaly and many on the extreme left here in Portland are Trumpian in their approach. Interesting how they resemble the individual they hate. They are just blinded to the fact as they are ideologues. I’m hopeful for a more centrist liberal approach in Portland instead of the extremist approach that we have had recently.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

So I see what you are saying, but I want people to recognize what a political spectrum means (relative to what). When someone says liberal, conservative, centrist, it can often be devoid of meaning. Regardless of one’s beliefs I can hope that we start with research, or a critical/scientific examination of what we have found to work. Simply saying “centrist” does not naturally evoke “correct” or “safe,” and I don’t want it to become a catch phrase for that.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I think when it comes to core values, “centrist” is where we should start because it’s closest to the “common denominator” that holds us together as a people.

However, starting from a moderate value may well lead to an extreme solution if the problem is urgent enough, as some of ours are.

“Everyone should get healthcare” and “we should not mess up the climate to the point where parts of the planet become uninhabitable and ecosystems collapse” and “the police should not treat people differently because of their race” are pretty moderate positions.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Are they?

tee
Guest
tee

It was offensive, and also I think she would have made the race much closer with different campaign strategies. Most of the messaging I saw from her campaign was about the police union donation ahd very little about her accomplishments or any plans for a second term.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Your city council would be better if it had Mapps AND Eudaly on it–she represented a non-property owners’ point of view which is desperately needed. Maybe she can replace Amanda.

one
Guest

Amanda’s seat is filled already. And I already miss Chloe.

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

Carmen Rubio won her election in May and is replacing Commissioner Fritz

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Some humility might serve her well.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

No. Because Eudaly’s failings are so great that they outweigh her tenant’s viewpoint.

In Portland, city commissioners actually manage the city’s bureaus. (Sounds like you’re not from Portland, so I didn’t want to assume you knew this.) They have to be effective managers, not just have a desirable policy or legislative viewpoint. Chloe was the opposite of an effective manager.

Most of our problems do not fall neatly in one bureau. So they have to be cooperative, diplomatic, team players. Chloe was the opposite of that.

If Portland had a more standard system ( mayor = executive, council = legislative ) then Chloe’s attributes could be a better fit.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

He made an interesting point about public transit – that a black person was least likely to be harassed by police on the public bus system. I’ve heard that in many cities. The bus is the safest and most protected environment, more so than a subway, light rail, and bicycling. But especially driving – a police officer doesn’t have to see you to know if you are black or white, all they have to do is scan your license plate.

joan
Guest
joan

To be clear, people of color face plenty of harassment on public transportation.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Correct, but rarely by uniformed police.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Do I think that we can reform the police department and uproot systemic racism? I think so. I’ve been in lots and lots of meetings over the past 10 years and it’s very rare that I hear anyone say, ‘You know, I want to approach policing and public safety from a racist point of view.’ I think everyone gets that that’s a problem and they want to move forward, especially I think our new generation of people in the public safety community, we all get this.

Sigh… After his barganing session with PPA, reality is going to hit him like a brick wall. PPA is fundamentally and totally opposed to reform. Anything that makes them more accountable is a non-starter.

Of course the police are not going to vocally oppose the concept of accountability or reducing racism. They will just fight anything that actually achieves that goal.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Might not be so predictable. With a new head of the Union, negotiations might be different than in the past.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Ah yes, I’m sure the folks that elected Daryl Turner over and over again are totally going to elect someone who wants to make the PPA more accountable and make it easier to fire officers. Sure. In bizarro world that makes total sense.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The PPA’s role is to protect its members. Period. But they only represent one side of the negotiation, and both sides need to agree on contract terms. I suspect Council will have a stronger hand than in the past due to the oversight measure on the ballot. But given that both Hardesty and Eudaly agreed in July to extend things for another year without change makes me a bit skeptical about their resolve.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

But they only represent one side of the negotiation, and both sides need to agree on contract terms.

That’s not true at all. PPA is strike prohibited, which means that they can bargain in bad faith and send contract “negotiations” to binding arbitration. Arbitrators historically always favor law enforcement. The arbitrator will find a “compromise” by taking into account what proposals each side has given up. The PPA will enter negotiations with completely unreasonable proposals and then “give up” their more crazy proposals and the “compromise” will be the status quo discipline-wise plus a nice big fat COLA. You can save this post and come “told-ya-so” in a couple months if I’m wrong.

I suspect Council will have a stronger hand than in the past due to the oversight measure on the ballot.

You mean the oversight measure that PPA currently have filed a grievance over and will probably get struck down because the city committed an unfair labor practice by submitting it to the voters? That oversight measure?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You paint a picture wherein a helpless city council is obligated to sign whatever contract PPA and a biased arbitrator cook up, and have very little agency of their own. If that’s true, then there’s just no way to reform the police, and even moving them to the county won’t help because they’ll take their union with them and the county will be in the same pickle.

If there’s no hope for change on that front, let’s talk about bicycling!

joan
Guest
joan

I mean, this is actually the problem. Reform has to happen at the state level too (our Democrats haven’t been great at moving this forward though there seems to be some momentum now). Police unions aren’t like regular worker unions. If Hardesty and Eudaly had pushed for bigger cuts this summer, the whole deal would have gone to an arbitrator, and they always find on behalf of police. There’s not no way to reform the police, but it’s very complicated. As for not bothering to try: some of us are concerned about our Black and brown family members and neighbors, but you are welcome to discuss bikes only yourself.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It actually strikes me that with the crowds we saw this summer, out would have been easy enough to get a “defund” or “abolish” measure onto the ballot. It probably still would be.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

You paint a picture wherein a helpless city council is obligated to sign whatever contract PPA and a biased arbitrator cook up, and have very little agency of their own

You should take some time to learn about binding arbitration because that’s exactly what it is.

If that’s true, then there’s just no way to reform the police, and even moving them to the county won’t help because they’ll take their union with them and the county will be in the same pickle.

Yes. Hence defund the police. You can’t reform them because you need their permission/cooperation and it’s not going to happen.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Why do you presume the arbitrator is inherently biased towards one side? Does the union pick them?

“Defunded police” or “abolished police” would be worse for almost everyone than what we have now. Without proposing an alternative, it’s just like those who want to tear down Obamacare with no idea what to do instead. And the underlying problem is essentially the same: there probably are no clearly better alternatives to propose.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Why do you presume the arbitrator is inherently biased towards one side? Does the union pick them?

Oregon is has a list of arbitrators and both sides puts forth ones they approve of and then the BOLI picks em.

I’m not sure why arbitrators are bias towards cops. Society in general is bias towards them hence why they routinely get away with misconduct and murder.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/how-police-unions-keep-abusive-cops-on-the-street/383258/

It probably has to due with the brainwashing Americans go through from a small age where we are told cops are the “good guys”. It’s not till you can say Rate R movies where you get to see cops displayed in all their immoral glory.

“Defunded police” or “abolished police” would be worse for almost everyone than what we have now.

I’m honestly curious where you live. My neighborhood doesn’t have any cops. I see them speed down Lombard and Willamette every once in a blue moon but other than that they have no presence nor do they respond to calls for service. How exactly would my neighborhood be worse off if we funded mental health workers instead of cops?

Without proposing an alternative, it’s just like those who want to tear down Obamacare with no idea what to do instead. And the underlying problem is essentially the same: there probably are no clearly better alternatives to propose.

It’s okay if you don’t want to take the time to learn about the subject but you seem to have an awful lot of opinions for someone who hasn’t taken the time to read about the alternatives to policing that have been widely and publicly proposed.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I’m honestly curious where you live. My neighborhood doesn’t have any cops. I see them speed down Lombard and Willamette every once in a blue moon but other than that they have no presence nor do they respond to calls for service.

I live in inner SE. Cops mostly speed through my neighborhood as well, often on their way to a pileup or shooting or (a few months ago) an explosion on Powell. I’ve said this before: you may think you have no cops, but if they were really absent, you’d have more problems than you do — look at the CHOP/CHAZ in Seattle, for instance. There are neighborhoods in the US that are effectively unpoliced, and they’re extremely dangerous for everyone involved. I’m not aware of any neighborhood in Portland that’s as bad as that.

I have never opposed replacing the police with social workers, PBOT employees, or any other idea so long as someone does the hard work of figuring out how to make it actually work and how much it will really cost. I am very skeptical of many of these ideas, like asking PBOT to enforce traffic laws, or sending social workers into the middle of a domestic brawl, and more skeptical yet of the rather heroic claims that standing up a new bureaucracy of unarmed crime report takers will somehow save money or change outcomes, but if we have a well thought out and vetted plan, and a realistic budget, I’m willing to give anything a try.

And yes, I admit I am completely ignorant of all the widely discussed public plans for this. Despite reading the Oregonian, Tribune, and Willamette Week regularly, and listening to OPB, I’ve somehow missed it all. The fact that I keep complaining about lack of details and no one shuts me up with a link to a real plan only further benights me.

If you send me a link to one, I’ll read it, and maybe my ignorance will be less pitiful.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

ops mostly speed through my neighborhood as well, often on their way to a pileup or shooting or (a few months ago) an explosion on Powell.

So I’d miss them because they show after bad things have happened and stand around drinking coffee? What’s the value add here?

I’ve said this before: you may think you have no cops, but if they were really absent, you’d have more problems than you do — look at the CHOP/CHAZ in Seattle, for instance.

CHOP/CHAZ is not a real example of what defunding the police looks like and I’m sorry if you’ve seen enough propaganda to think it is. CHOP was a LARP zone set-up by edgy white children to play anarchy and it attracted white supremacists who wanted to LARP solider. Like I said, my neighborhood is effectively un-policed and we don’t have the problems of CHOP. The nearest PPB substation is 5 miles away, the police don’t do traffic enforcement in my neighborhood and they don’t respond to calls. We are literally already living in a un-policed city, we just pay a quarter of a billion dollars to do so.

I have never opposed replacing the police with social workers, PBOT employees, or any other idea so long as someone does the hard work of figuring out how to make it actually work and how much it will really cost.

The City has a monopoly on the type of plan you are looking for and they aren’t going to produce it. Activist don’t have the resources or access to the data required to make a proposal at the budget level. The city should be willing to work with the community create a proposal for divestment that includes budget details and timelines but they wont because Portlanders re-elected a republican as mayor.

like asking PBOT to enforce traffic laws, or sending social workers into the middle of a domestic brawl, and more skeptical yet of the rather heroic claims that standing up a new bureaucracy of unarmed crime report takers will somehow save money or change outcomes

PBOT should be designing roads that don’t allow for most traffic laws to be broken. Police don’t stop bad behavior on the roads, they just use it as revenue to buy new toys.

I think for the social workers you largely just grossly over-estimate the danger of responding to DV situations. Either way, I’d much rather have someone who is trained in descalation and conflict resolution as their primary job responding to those calls even if they respond armed. Right now we send some meat head with a high school education and we know the outcomes don’t work for anyone, especially the victim who maybe finds relief for a night and then suffers again the next day when their abuser is released and angry.

As for the “unarmed crime report takers”. Why would we need armed people to take reports? Do you realize how expensive a PPB officer is? They start at more than $100 an hour when you look at their total compensation and cost to the city. Why would we pay multiple people $100+ an hour to take a report? You mentioned a pile-up. Do you think sending someone with a gun to a pile-up is value add? Why not send someone who costs $50 an hour. Do you not see how utilizing cheaper workers saves us money? We send some of the most expensive workers in the city to do menial tasks like take a report. It’s mind boggling.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

There’s always the option to do a Camden NJ. Google what they did with their police force.

Javier Sodo
Guest
Javier Sodo

Hopefully, Portland is on its way to more reasoned police reform. The poorly thought out Hardesty version of police reform just had an “epic fail”. Her plan to redirect millions of public safety money to hot dog giveaways and hand sanitizer handouts was naive. Fortunately, wiser minds on the council prevailed so we can move ahead with common sense collaborative reform. The recent 911 call to police by Hardesty cemented the demise of her inane re-direction of millions of public safety taxypayer dollars to “feel good” but non public safety entities. Probably also doomed her political effectiveness for the foreseeable future.

https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2020/11/portland-city-commissioner-jo-ann-hardesty-calls-911-refuses-to-get-out-of-lyft-car-after-driver-cancels-ride.html

bob steets
Guest
bob steets
  • Enter the adult. Exit the ‘Chloe’
  • Zach
    Guest
    Zach

    Hi Mingus, if you’re reading this:

    I didn’t vote for you, but now I wish I did! I love how you think and how you seem enthusiastic about being bold and making a real difference in this town. Really excited to see what you do!

    Just want to respond to two things you said:

    “Balancing the interest of bikes and cars is a fundamentally difficult problem.”

    Not to nitpick your word choice, but while this might be a *politically* difficult problem (at least for “leaders” who are afraid of pushback from the vocal, parking-obsessed minority), I don’t think it’s a *fundamentally* difficult problem.

    The fact that the Netherlands has consistently ranked as the best country to *drive* in is solid evidence of how easily this beautiful balance can be achieved: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/best-place-in-the-world-to-be-a-driver-netherlands

    Former Vancouver Chief Planner Brent Toderian says it best: “If you design a city for cars, it fails for everyone, including drivers. If you design a multi-modal city that prioritizes walking, biking, and public transport, it works for everyone, including drivers.”

    Portland is so close to achieving this vision, and, after reading this interview, I’m confident in your ability to lead on this.

    Regarding bike lanes on Hawthorne: I’m the guy who made all those posters you mentioned. Glad you noticed!

    I hope you’ll consider a few things (I wish Jonathan was editing me for brevity too haha):

    – While it’s important for business owners and residents on Hawthorne to voice their opinions, it’s crucial to think about the broader role of the street. It’s a public space, so it belongs to the rest of the city, too. Protected bike lanes on Hawthorne would offer one of the fastest, most direct ways from outer SE to downtown, serving tens of thousands of commuters each month. It would also allow the millions (!) of yearly tourists to safely cycle/scooter on the street, patronize local businesses, and get off the sidewalk, which is good—and necessary—for *everyone*. There will always be people screaming about parking, but prioritizing a couple of parking spots over the safe passage for everyone else who uses the street would be tremendously inequitable planning—yet is all too often how things play out. I hope you’ll consider the bigger picture here. It sounds like you already “get it,” but I wanted to spell out my thoughts just in case.

    – If I were in charge, here’s what I would do (inspired by observing how planners in Boston and Vancouver, BC make their public presentations): Make it crystal clear that we need to build protected bike lanes because safety for all modes is the #1 priority, and ask for community input on everything else. How many remaining parking spaces will be delivery zones vs public parking vs handicapped parking? Should we charge for public parking to ensure there are always spaces available? What kind of art should we put in the crosswalks? And so on. These are questions that residents and business owners will have valuable input on. But it shouldn’t even be *possible* for a clothing shop owner—or the Hawthorne Business Association, which does not speak for all business (only a handful of the 600+ businesses on Hawthorne are members!)—to veto critical safety infrastructure based on a knee-jerk reaction to losing parking spots.

    – Finally, it’s ironic you mention pizza shops as an example of pushback, because the owners of Baby Blue, SFNY, and Hot Lips (all pizza shops on Hawthorne) were some of the most passionate supporters of protected bike lanes out of all the people I spoke to 🙂

    Feel free to reach out to me anytime at https://www.healthierhawthorne.com/contact.html; I’d love to talk.

    PS: As a general role model for heading a transportation department, you might find these hard-won lessons from the great Janette Sadik-Khan valuable: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/six-strategic-takeaways-nyc-streetfight

    Eawriste
    Guest
    Eawriste

    Thanks Zack. This is what I found missing from the interview (although Jonathan asked the right questions and Mapps appears to have some understanding of how Portland can improve). We must design our streets based on the best research and gold standard design, not feel. If Mapps wants to make the biggest impact on transportation and safety, building a network of protected bike lanes is the most direct route to this end. Balancing cars and bikes does not mean building an unsafe or haphazard design to assuage the worries of neighborhood members who prefer parking, it means examining the data and designing streets based on research. Zach is right. Compromise in this sense means asking for small tweaks in a standardized PBL design.

    Zach
    Guest
    Zach

    Yes, exactly. Ten years ago, all you had to look for as examples are the Netherlands, Copenhagen, maybe Vancouver and Montreal. But now you have London, Paris, Vienna, Seville, and dozens of other major cities building out their protected bike lane networks, to great success. The research is all there, the successful design and implementation strategies ready to copy!

    bob steets
    Guest
    bob steets

    Being from the Netherlands there is one item that bears repeating over and over again. Automobile licensees, pedestrians and bicyclists,; all ‘enjoys’ education, education, education. Here in aMErica…….not so much. Someone will have to ‘pedal’ that forward for a successful evolution.

    GlowBoy
    Guest
    GlowBoy

    Wow! I’m impressed. Sounds like he will be a great person to have on the Council.

    I especially liked the “… if the infrastructure around you changes” quote. Well put.

    joan
    Guest
    joan

    I really appreciate this interview and all the questions you asked, Jonathan. I also want to point folks to another interview with Mapps, in Willamette Week, in which he compared protesters to a “white mob,” which is to say, the KKK.

    Hello, Kitty
    Subscriber
    Hello, Kitty

    A little more context for this quote would be helpful:

    “On a personal level, I want to say something to Commissioner Ryan: I feel you,” Mapps said. “Your story reminds me of my story and it reminds me of the African American story.…I know what it’s like to wait up for the white mob to roll up on your house in the middle of the night because you have the audacity to vote or you had the audacity to hope.”

    So he’s not making his comparison with protesters in general; only those who single out individuals and come in the night, anonymous behind their masks, with the intent to intimidate. It’s may not be a totally apt comparison, but it’s really not too far off base, either.

    My main complaint with this quote is it appears to be letting some folks off the hook for their terrible behavior. It’s not “whiteness” that’s the problem, it’s the intimidation.

    https://www.wweek.com/news/city/2020/11/06/commissioner-elect-mingus-mapps-blisters-portland-protesters-referring-to-some-as-the-white-mob/

    joan
    Guest
    joan

    That crowd included many people of color, so I disagree that this is an apt comparison.

    Hello, Kitty
    Subscriber
    Hello, Kitty

    My main complaint with this quote is it appears to be letting some folks off the hook for their terrible behavior. It’s not “whiteness” that’s the problem, it’s the intimidation.

    [Note that I added this after you responded (but before I saw your comment)]

    SingleSpeed
    Guest
    SingleSpeed

    “Many people of color”

    Ok. Going off of standard Portland stats. It may have been like 10% POC. Either way, your anecdotal thoughts over the racial makeup of a mob of people that show up to elected official’s houses in the middle of the night to vandalize and threaten them, doesn’t really matter.

    joan
    Guest
    joan

    Because a Black Lives Matter protest would include the same demographics of the city as a whole? That … makes no sense. Black activists on Twitter have been complaining regularly about how descriptions of protesters as white have disempowered them. But they can’t always use their full names and real photos because that makes them a lot more vulnerable to police. This wasn’t a mob of white people. If you attend of these protests, you will see that this isn’t a group of only white people.

    SingleSpeed
    Guest
    SingleSpeed

    I’m sorry I’m not going to be attending any “protests” that occur at elected official’s homes at 11PM with paint to threaten them into voting the way I want them to. Those that are attending those “protests” should be asking themselves why so many black leaders are calling them out for it.

    That is my pledge as someone who very much likes living in a democracy where other interest groups don’t start picking this up as a tactic to get what they want done too.

    Middle of the Road Guy
    Guest
    Middle of the Road Guy

    You were there?

    Chris I
    Guest
    Chris I

    Portland residents of all colors are completely fed up with the mobs. The pro-mob candidates all lost this last election. People want moderates. They want public safety. They want a city government that works for the people, rather than a small subset of special interests.

    Time for some self-reflection.

    Middle of the Road Guy
    Guest
    Middle of the Road Guy

    We are in violent agreement!

    joan
    Guest
    joan

    Chris, you do not speak for all of Portland. The mob I’m fed up with is one with badges.

    Chris I
    Guest
    Chris I

    That’s why we have elections. The proof is in the pudding.

    Time for self-reflection.

    joan
    Subscriber

    More than 81% of voters approved Measure 26-217 to create a new police oversight board in Portland. This measure garnered more support than other measure or candidate in Portland in this election. The voters have clearly indicated our police need more oversight.

    Hello, Kitty
    Subscriber
    Hello, Kitty

    This is unambiguously true. It is quite likely that the majority of Portlanders want greater police accountability and oversight while at the same time wanting an end to disruptive protests that are accomplishing little and have overstayed their welcome.

    joan
    Subscriber

    I’d disagree about accomplishing little. Indeed, I think the mass protests in June on are exactly what led to the level of awareness of these 81% of Portlanders who understand the problems a lot better now and voted for greater accountability. And if protesters go home, there’s a good chance folks might lose some will for police reform. So, the best way to end the protests is to keep pushing for police reform.

    Hello, Kitty
    Subscriber
    Hello, Kitty

    Have you ever had a conversation with someone who kept harping on the same things, over and over, long after their point was made? Did it steel your resolve to support their cause, or just make you feel tired of talking to them?

    I believe the protests accomplished the goal or raising awareness in the first couple of weeks by showing that there was a huge number of people who supported police reform.

    What’s happening now is much different — the few remaining protestors seem focused on provocation and intimidation. That does not win allies, and I sense their tactics are souring public opinion.

    Anecdotally, I can say for certain the protests were not a factor in my decision to support police reform — the need for greater accountability and oversight has been evident for a long time. I think the measure would have passed comfortably without a single protest.

    Javier Sodo
    Guest
    Javier Sodo

    Agree Chris!

    Scott Kocher
    Guest

    Great to read this. Thank you Commissioner Mapps and Jonathan. I look forward to hearing more, and seeing a robust process that leads to real progress.

    dwk
    Guest
    dwk

    Maybe he can ride his bike and pick up his fellow councilor Hardesty at the Casino up north
    that she Lyfts back and forth to….

    zuckerdog
    Guest
    zuckerdog

    This was a great interview, Jonathan.

    Erik
    Guest
    Erik

    “I don’t know if we’re going to go back to the world where people go and work in big office towers downtown.”

    “I’ll tell you who’s gonna win long term: The bike people and the public transportation people are gonna be what the 21st century is about.”

    Which is it? Are we going to return to normal where people commute to big office towers or are we going to stay like this in perpetuity? I can tell you right now, transit and bikes are out if this lockdown continues like this…

    Chris I
    Guest
    Chris I

    Bikes are the ideal mode of transport for the coming apocalypse. Transit will die if business doesn’t get back to normal, though…

    David Hampsten
    Guest
    David Hampsten

    If the Spanish Flu of 1918 is any indicator, in which mask-wearing also became the new normal for a while, by 1921 everyone was back to not wearing masks, crowding, etc, even though the disease was still around as late as 1924.

    John
    Guest
    John

    Maybe some of each. For example, I think the combination of WFH, rising Portland/MultCo/Metro/Oregon taxes, and deteriorating conditions will have a lasting effect on downtown PDX.

    Individuals and businesses who move their business location to outside of Portland/Multco/Metro reduces future business taxes by approx 5% of business taxable income. Moving residence outside of Portland/Multco/Metro reduces future income tax by approx 3% of individual taxable income, plus some not insignificant amount of property tax. Moving business and residence over the river to Washington also reduces future income tax by approx 9% of individual taxable income.

    Ballpark, those businesses and individuals can save in taxes roughly 20% of taxable biz/indiv income by moving. They can also save on office rent, commuting expense, commuting time. Shuttered retail businesses and, let’s call it, challenging conditions on the streets and sidewalks may make spending one’s day downtown less appealing. With WFH, such a move is increasingly feasible.

    I think many will make that choice. Camas WA is growng like a weed, and Vancouver WA is pretty nice (worked there for 5 years recently).

    I recognize some reactions may be “screw them, good riddance” and I’m not arguing that point. I’m just saying that things are, as Mapps says, gonna be different.

    John Liu
    Guest
    John Liu

    Nice detailed interview. Perhaps the other commissioners and commissioners-elect will Zoom with you as well?

    buildwithjoe
    Guest

    I’ll just agree to disagree with Mingus . – I own a car to take care of Grandma. Once she dies I’m going to sell the car. Cars and police are broken systems that need to be abolished in a rapid but safe manner.

    We can abolish cars and at the same time avoid harm to people dependent on cars. In 100 years nobody is going to look back and say that freeways and driving alone were a good plan. In 100 years people will say we can abolish the police without causing harm to some of the people who need protection currently under the police umbrella. Police are based in white supremacy. We all know this. We can say this now. To say this is not an attack on all people who work in the police department.

    In 100 years people will look back and see us addicted to systems that tore us apart. We are in a Stockholm systems. We buy into stuff that creates our oppressions. We think we can’t quit the addiction but we can. It’s not about tough budget decisions, it is only policy and networks of people who control policy and influence us.

    We have a SCTOUS that is a 6-3 ratio. Six right wing Judges in the system that acts as our last resort of checks and balances.

    Look at our new city Hall Ratio. Would Carmen have voted with Jo Ann? Yes. For the year 2021 we are looking at a city hall ratio to the right. With Mingus we have someone who says let’s talk more and act later. Bike lanes, police, we all know the wait game.

    Had Mingus lost, we would have a Ratio of unity with Chloe, JoAnn and Carmen united to reform our Police and put actions behind words.

    It’s clear Mingus has his marketing speeches and answers well practiced.

    I’m going to take the Mingus Marketing and let Matt McNally and other staff in Hardesty’s office answer this quote

    the set of proposals and cuts that was put before council didn’t go through the budget analyst office. We didn’t calculate the impact these specific cuts would have on real public service, and that’s a problem

    John Liu
    Guest
    John Liu

    “ I own a car to take care of Grandma. Once she dies I’m going to sell the car. Cars and police are broken systems that need to be abolished in a rapid but safe manner. “

    So no-one after you gets to own a car to take care of Grandma?

    Chris I
    Guest
    Chris I

    Cognitive dissonance is most common on the far-right, but can be found in many places on the political spectrum.

    MaddHatter
    Guest
    MaddHatter

    I don’t want to put words in buildwithjoe’s mouth (… but, erm, I’ll do it anyway). I think the implication was pretty clearly not just “nobody after me gets to own a car to take care of Grandma” but more importantly “nobody after me should *need* to own a car to take care of Grandma”.

    That said, I don’t think even a post-cars-addicted post-police utopia is really going to be totally car-free. It’s a pretty narrow set of possibilities for life that can be lived without any sort of medium- to long-distance individual travel (i.e. a car). America is big; not everything is like Tokyo. But it seems to be a common tactic now to argue from the extreme position and incrementally walk back until something reasonable is reached, rather than just starting from what’s pragmatic at the beginning.

    John
    Guest
    John

    “rather than just starting from what’s pragmatic at the beginning.”

    Which sounds to me like where Mapps is trying to start.

    Doug Klotz
    Subscriber

    I’m sorry that Jonathan didn’t ask Mapps any questions about zoning, density and climate change. Allowing increased density near transit and near jobs not only benefits the planet, but also is critical to providing better outcomes people with lower incomes than the typical Irvington resident, for instance. Mapps’ alliance with Neighborhood Associations puts him (ironically) in the camp of those who want to preserve their havens of exclusivity in close-in areas where more housing would benefit everyone. This would upset their aesthetics of “neighborhood charm”, which really means “isn’t it nice that all of these single-family houses are not interrupted by any apartment buildings?”. The lack of apartments is true because apartments were originally prohibited in order to keep Black people and others with lower incomes, out of those neighborhoods. That “charm” is less than charming when you know the history. It’s also what keeps bike share low, because even R-5 zoning is too sprawling to really get the density needed for cycling to be a popular alternative.

    Hello, Kitty
    Guest
    Hello, Kitty

    The Oregon constitution was originally designed to keep black people out of the state. That does not mean constitutions are bad.

    Lindstrom John & Deanne
    Guest
    Lindstrom John & Deanne

    Were you named for Charles Mingus?