jo ann hardesty
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was forced to go on the offensive in a press conference in order to respond to false allegations that she left the scene of a hit-and-run.
The writer of the PJ Media story, Jeff Reynolds, is also involved with the Coalition to Save Portland, a nonprofit that formed last fall with a goal to “restore law and order, reverse defunding of the police, end the decay of livability.” Reynolds is also a well-known Republican party operative. [Read more…]
Interview: PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on the Hawthorne decision, traffic enforcement, and more
I spoke to Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on the phone last Friday. We covered a lot of ground. The interview below has been slightly edited for clarity and brevity.[Read more…]
Carfree streets, EVs for all, smarter funding: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty shares her ‘smart transit’ vision
“I believe life will be radically different post-Covid and our planning should reflect our new reality.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, city commissioner
At a city council work session Thursday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the four other commissioners had an informal and wide-ranging discussion about how to respond to the multiple crises facing our city. During the meeting, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty described how she wants to use her leadership of the transportation bureau to kickstart the local economy and face the climate crisis. Hardesty called it a vision for “smart transit”.
The work session was led by Dr. Markisha Smith from the Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights. Each commissioner was asked to share their opinion about the most urgent issues council should focus on in the next 12-18 months.
The first thing Hardesty mentioned was her vision for more carfree streets we reported on earlier this month. Hardesty elaborated on that idea (first shared her policy director Derek Bradley at a Bicycle Advisory Committee January 12th), but she didn’t stop there.
About one hour and 15 minutes into the two-hour session (you can watch it here), Hardesty laid out four transportation-related goals.
She tied a vision for carfree streets downtown to the climate crisis, economic rebirth and changing behaviors related to the Covid pandemic:
“When I think about smart transit I think about, as we are attempting to reach our climate goals, are there opportunities to support small restaurants across the city by closing off some streets to auto traffic? Is it possible when we are in rebuild mode coming out of Covid, to really think about what would a carfree downtown look like? I say this because I think that there is this misperception that one day we’re going to go back to business as usual and that Covid will be behind us, and we’re going to flip the switch and life will be as it was prior to Covid. I think that there’s a lot of people that believe that and I am not one of them. I believe life will be radically different post-Covid, and our planning should reflect our new reality… Is there an opportunity to create international districts in different parts of the city that people can access for food and goods and services that are not tied to people getting into automobiles?”
Hardesty then mentioned her desire to boost electric vehicle access:
“I also want to think about how we create opportunities for electric vehicle infrastructure in different parts of the city so that we can ensure that BIPOC community members have access to both building it and actually being able to take advantage of using it.”
Her next two goals were related to funding. The first was about federal funds:
“I want to make sure we are identifying federal resources that traditionally have been all about freeway expansions. I’m looking for federal resources to support a climate resilient transportation department that is really focused on green issues as compared to freeway expansions like we’re so accustomed to.”
The second was the concern that PBOT’s budget is closely tied to driving and there’s still no substitute to gas taxes and parking-related revenues — both of which were trending down before the pandemic hit:
“[I am interested in] trying to identify new funding opportunities to create a smart transit system for PBOT that is not dependent on people driving automobiles, and not dependent on people parking at parking garages [PBOT owns and operates several of them downtown]. We are facing a $40 million budget deficit because normal funding mechanisms have been impacted by A) Covid and B) should be impacted by our climate justice and resiliency goals.”
The facilitator then asked other commissioners to respond.
Commissioner Mingus Mapps said, “I generally support this vision. I think it’s innovative and I’m happy to work with a lot of these things.”
Commissioner Carmen Rubio said, “I also support it. It’s in line with a lot of our goals, particularly around equity.”
Commissioner Dan Ryan was much less enthusiastic: “It felt very connected to the climate crisis, even though it was stated as transportation. But that’s what I kept hearing. It’s not in my top three or four, but I respect what I just heard.”
Mayor Wheeler responded with, “I appreciated it. It sounded more like the answer to a broader question. It sounded tactical. I think it is in alignment with our stated goals around climate action and transportation equity. But I would see that as one of multiple strategies that are fulfilling the larger objective.” Then he added, “I want to say this: I actually love innovative and visionary thinking and I appreciate that. It’s a good vision.”
With new leadership in City Hall and multiple crises facing Portland, now is a great time for a new transportation vision and more urgency on the topic in general — something Portland hasn’t for years. Hardesty seems to understand the opportunity and appears to be unafraid to try and meet it. As she laid out her idea to use streets as gathering places in a way that would help our economy rebound in a Covid-safe way, Hardesty said, “That’s one of the exciting things about having transportation at this moment.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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With all the political drama of the past week, our local debate over a proposal to cut $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau seems like it happened ages ago. But it’s only been one week since Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called her council colleagues “cowardly” for not voting on her proposal.
The vote is scheduled to happen when council meets again today (11/5) at 2:00 pm.
While the faces on city council haven’t changed, Tuesday’s election is still likely to influence the vote. Hardesty endorsed her ally on the proposal, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly — who lost her race by a large margin. Following Tuesday’s vote, and after she hung-up on the council meeting in disgust before it was officially adjourned, Hardesty endorsed the challenger to current Mayor Ted Wheeler — but he won his race by a comfortable margin (although he failed to win a majority of votes thanks to a large number of write-in votes). [Read more…]
The head of the Portland Police Bureau and the Portland Police Association union have sent out dire warnings about impacts to law enforcement capabilities if a proposal (PDF) for $18 million in budget cuts are passed by council next week. Chief Chuck Lovell and PPA President Daryl Turner have many concerns about the cuts including what they say would lead to the end of the Traffic Division — the unit that issues about 90% of all traffic tickets, responds to transportation-related concerns and investigates serious injury and fatal crashes.
As we shared yesterday, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly have laid out the cuts as part of their ongoing efforts to rein in a “bloated” budget and “rethink” policing — which they feel isn’t in line with Portland values and has become overly-aggressive and militarized.[Read more…]