Jul 30, 2020
Portland Mayor Wheeler Press Conference Transcript Federal Law Enforcement July 30
Portland Mayor Wheeler held a virtual briefing on July 30 to address the federal law enforcement presence in Portland. Read the full transcript here.
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Mayor Ted Wheeler: (00:00)
Let me just say this. I remain cautiously optimistic that federal tactical teams deployed by the president to occupy this community are poised to leave. Progressive cities around the country are standing together to defend their communities against hostile and dangerous federal interventions. This week I joined Mayor Lightfoot, Mayor Durkan of Seattle, Mayor Keller of Albuquerque, Mayor Bowser of DC, and Mayor Lucas of Kansas City in calling for our congressional leadership to swiftly pass legislation to block the administration from sending unidentified federal agents to operate with impunity in our community. The federal government needs to work in partnership with local cities, not in direct defiance of their wishes. Here in Portland, all of this is happening. We’re still pressing hard for urgent reform, our city needs on public safety, and in supporting our BIPOC communities. Yesterday, the Portland City Council referred an important accountability measure to Portland voters.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (01:09)
Let me just end with this. We’re in the middle of one of the greatest transformational periods of our lifetime. We get to write the future. And this city will be proudly at the center of that transformation. So with that, Tim, let’s go ahead and open it up for questions and see what people want to know.
All right. Thank you, Mayor. We do have time for some questions now. Reporters, if you want to ask a question, we ask that you please click on the raised hand icon and we’re going to do our best to get to you. And since our time is limited, I’m also asking that you be considerate of your peers, keep your inquiries to one or two questions at the most so we can kind of keep the flow of information just moving along. All right, hands are up. And let’s start with the person at the top of the list here. Kellee Azar, KATU TV News. Go ahead.
Kellee Azar: (02:03)
Hello. Good morning. Thanks for taking the time, Mr. Mayor. We appreciate it.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (02:07)
Kellee Azar: (02:08)
To get us started, a couple of weeks ago when we had another opportunity to speak, you answered one of my questions with a four-part plan to get the city of Portland back moving again and to get the violence to end. Your first part was to get federal officers out. We want to know, going on from here, if federal officers truly leave today, what is the plan to stop the violence in the streets of Portland?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (02:34)
Yeah. Thank you, Kellee. And the plan hasn’t changed a bit. First of all, in order to deescalate the situation, it starts with federal officers leaving the city of Portland. We’re all in agreement here that since they arrived, things have only gotten much worse. Escalation on the part of our federal officers has been met with further escalation. It’s reinvigorated Portlanders, more people are out there. And frankly, for that small group of people engaged in illegal activity, it’s also increased the violence and the vandalism. So step number one is getting the federal officers to leave. And I’m really appreciative of the leadership of the governor working with her federal partners to make that happen. And we’re expecting that to start as soon as today.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (03:20)
The next phase, of course, is deescalating the situation here locally using state and local resources. And we now have the state police working with the Portland Police Bureau working with Multnomah County and other law enforcement agencies to contain and deescalate the situation here on our streets. The third phase of this is we need to clean the city up. And while that starts with the federal courthouse, there are other buildings downtown that are still marked with graffiti, there’s a lot of boards that are still up. We need to clean the city up. And finally, we need to reopen it under phase one of the recovery plan put forth by the governor. We need our city to reopen, to reengage. We need the time to heal, we need the time to allow people to come back downtown and experience the great downtown that people remember from just a few months ago. So that’s the plan.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (04:18)
I will also tell you this, Kellee, it’s not going to just be about policing strategies. That’s not going to end this. It’s going to be ended by the community coming together and saying that the mass demonstrations that we’ve seen over many, many weeks, those demands have been heard, the demands have been understood. Our local, our state, and our federal office holders are making real progress on meeting those demands. And I feel very confident about that at the local level. And that will begin the process of healing. When people see that those of us in positions of power and influence have heard and understood what’s being demanded and are taking concrete steps towards enacting those demands, that’s when I believe we’ll start to see an end to the nightly demonstrations. That doesn’t mean people should take the pressure off. It doesn’t mean that people won’t continue to push us and hold us accountable. But I think you’ll see the beginning of the end of the nightly demonstrations.
Kellee Azar: (05:21)
And if you’ll allow me one other question, when it comes to the demonstrations, we’ve seen them now, obviously, for 60 plus nights. We’ve spoken with community members, viewers, city leaders in the sense of faith leaders, all saying that this is really these nightly violent acts are detracting from the Black Lives Matter movement. Do you feel like you’ve let down the city of Portland plus these groups who really are fighting for change by allowing this to go on for so long?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (05:55)
Well, I want to be clear. I do not and I have never endorsed or condoned violence or vandalism. So let’s be crystal clear about that. And the Portland Police Bureau has used a strategy that I would describe as a containment strategy followed by targeted arrests where they believe that they can make arrests safely. And they’ve done that and they’re going to hold people accountable. And then we’re also working with the district attorney and others who are involved in the criminal justice system to, on one hand, protect the rights of nonviolent demonstrators. And that is the vast, vast majority of people who are out on the streets, while at the same time apprehending and holding accountable those who have engaged in illegal activity. I’ve never condoned it and I never will.
Kellee Azar: (06:45)
Yeah. Thank you, Kellee. Next up, Kyle Iboshi from KGW. Kyle.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (06:51)
Hi, Kyle. Kyle, you’re still muted. Can you unmute? Or Adam, do you have to do that?
Kyle Iboshi: (07:02)
There we go. I apologize.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (07:03)
There you go.
Kyle Iboshi: (07:05)
Thanks for taking the time. Just wanted to ask, what will your directive be to Portland Police in potentially cooperating and coordinating with OSP as they protect the federal courthouse and also the Better Protective Services?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (07:19)
Yeah. Well, first of all, the governor has … Well, let me take a step back. I met two days ago with the governor, with Commissioner Hardesty, with Travis Hampton, the Superintendent of the Oregon State Police, and with Chuck Lovell, who is the Chief of Police at the Portland Police Bureau. And collectively, they agreed that there would have to be some communication as we go through this transitional phase of the federal officers leaving and state and local law enforcement coming in. So the degree of communication as I understood it is around coordinating that handoff.
Kyle Iboshi: (08:05)
And if I can follow up on that, will they have a presence in protecting the federal courthouse? Or will you leave that exclusively to OSP?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (08:14)
I’m sorry. Will who have a presence?
Kyle Iboshi: (08:16)
Will Portland Police have a presence in protecting the federal courthouse? Or will you leave that exclusively to OSP?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (08:22)
I will defer to the Portland Police Bureau and the state police. My understanding, the last time I was updated on this two days ago, was it was going to be exclusively OSP. But if that’s changed, I’m not aware of it.
Thank you, Kyle. Got to move on down the list here. Jacquelyn Abad next from KOIN TV. Jacquelyn, good morning.
Jacquelyn Abad: (08:48)
Good morning. Good morning. Thank you, Mayor Ted Wheeler for taking the time. Right now, there has been some conflicting information from the governor, as well as some of the federal officials regarding if certain federal officers will be leaving Portland. Do you have any insight on that? Right now, we’re hearing that ICE, as well as all customs and border protection officers are leaving, but we recently heard from CBP that they may not be leaving. Do you have any insight on that?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (09:15)
So the governor has given me her assurance that the federal officers are leaving. There will still be a presence of local officers who live here, who work in the community. It’s my understanding that they will remain inside the federal buildings. It will be OSP that will be outside, engaging directly with our public. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s confusion around the messaging. You have the acting secretary saying one thing that appears to contradict what the governor is saying, but ultimately, I trust the governor on this one. I believe that there is a deal. And it’s my expectation, as well as the governor’s expectation, that that deal will be adhered to and the federal presence will leave.
Jacquelyn Abad: (10:00)
Okay. Thank you, Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (10:16)
Tim, I’m not hearing anything. Are you?
Okay? Can you guys hear me now?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (10:24)
Now I can.
Okay. Issues there. Zane Sparling, Portland Tribune. We’ll pull Zane into the conversation. Good morning, Zane.
Zane Sparling: (10:34)
Good morning. Thanks for your time today, Mayor. My first question would be you mentioned the new Police Accountability Board that will be referred to the voters. Obviously, there was a lot of pushback from the city auditor during the process when this was unveiled. And I think there’s expectations that this could get mired in lawsuits for years if it really was approved. So I was wondering what you make of that and whether you see this as an actually a good idea or something just to let the voters decide.
Zane Sparling: (11:02)
… Actually a good idea or something just to let the voters decide.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (11:04)
I think number one, it’s a good idea. And number two, yes, the voters should decide because this gets at the core of the accountability mechanism, how they hold their police bureau accountable, and the oversight mechanism that the public will have for the police bureau going forward. And it absolutely should be up to the voters to decide. Now having said that, I put a number of concerns squarely on the record yesterday. This is not a sure thing.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (11:33)
There are a lot of complex questions that have not yet been answered that I’ve been assured by Commissioner Hardesty and her team that over the course of the next several months, those questions around legality, around issues of collective bargaining, around issues of any state legislation that might need to take place, that those issues will all be resolved. So I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. There’s clearly a risk associated with this, but it’s a risk worth taking, I believe. And so I applaud Commissioner Hardesty for her leadership on this and the work that she and her team have committed to, to make this go from more than being aspirational, but actually having it work effectively operationally.
Zane Sparling: (12:20)
Sure. And as a followup, I’m curious, there’s been some discussion about who should be in command of the Portland Police Bureau. You said just today, and on previous occasions, that you don’t call tactics on a night by night, minute by minute level. But yet you’ve obviously taken a lot of criticism for the tactics used by the Portland Police Bureau. I’m sure you’ve heard the nicknames and the chants and things like that. So I’m just curious, have you considered the be careful what you wish for, you just might get it scenario in terms of giving up command of the police bureau?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (12:57)
Well, look, there’s two questions here, and I want to address them both. And the first question is around power and authority. If these times call for anything, it calls for us all to take a step back and ask ourselves, are there situations where seeding some power, some influence and some authority could actually be to the benefit of the larger community? And as we look at the oversight and accountability mechanism used by the Portland Police Bureau and our auditor and our internal review process, it comes up lacking. And for years and years and years, it’s been lacking. This goes all the way back to the days of Vera Katz, where she looked at it and she said this didn’t work for her. Every mayor since has said that it doesn’t work. I have said I find it incredible that the police commissioner and the police chief don’t have final say on whether an officer is disciplined or not.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (14:03)
That goes to an arbitrator. Some guy named Joe that nobody in the public knows who they are actually has the final word. That’s not acceptable. And so this is a moonshot, if you will, opportunity for us to completely reimagine how oversight and accountability looks. For our police bureau, I believe if it’s done correctly, it has the opportunity to set a strong national standard. But as I’ve said, this is full of risks. There are still significant questions that are unanswered. The auditor raised legitimate concerns that must be addressed. Other community leaders have expressed concerns that must be addressed. And at the end of the day, my colleagues and I are trusting that those questions will be addressed. I also want to get back to the first part of your question. It hasn’t been asked, but I think it needs to be asked.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (15:03)
You obliquely mentioned that I have been called certain names. One of them derives from the use of CS gas, otherwise commonly called tear gas. And I want to be on the record, and I want to be clear about this. I’ve said this to a lot of people, but I haven’t said it directly in a press engagement. And so I want to say it. There were times early on in these demonstrations where I believe I saw the Portland Police Bureau make mistakes when it came to crowd dispersal. I saw what appeared to be and what was reported from the streets to be indiscriminate use of crowd control devices. And I came to the conclusion that that was the case. So for the first time in my administration, I made tactical directives. I have historically not directed tactics for the Portland Police Bureau, but I chose overtly to do it under these circumstances.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (16:06)
And what I did was I immediately prohibited the use of LRAD in the tone mode, and I prohibited the use of CS gas, commonly called tear gas, in all except life-safety circumstances. Just two days ago, I met with Governor Brown, Commissioner Hardesty, Travis Hampton from the Oregon State Police, Chuck Leavelle from the Portland Police Bureau, and I asked them what was our joint commitment around limiting the use of CS gas? I was determined that we would have an agreement on that prior to us trying to manage these demonstrations collectively. And we agreed on the use of tear gas being limited to circumstances where there is a risk of serious injury or death. That is our consensus opinion. It is consistent with the directive that I put in place weeks ago. CS gas has been used by the Portland Police Bureau exactly twice in the month of July.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (17:14)
So, they are taking the directive that I put forth seriously. Again, I apologize to those nonviolent demonstrators who were subjected to the use of CS gas or LRAD. It should never have happened. I take personal responsibility for it. And I’m sorry. I also want to draw a clear distinction between the Portland Police Bureau’s use of CS gas and what we’re seeing the federal officers use. The federal officers are using CS gas broadly, indiscriminately and nightly. And that is why it is escalating the behavior we’re seeing on the streets rather than deescalating it. And that’s why this must come to an end.
Zane Sparling: (18:03)
All right, thank you, Zane. Appreciate that. Let’s move on to Simon Gutierrez from KPTV. Simon, do you have a question? And we’re running out of time folks, so let’s keep it rolling.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (18:17)
Kim, I want the last word before we wrap up.
We’ll give you that. We’ll give you that. Let’s take a few more questions here. Just a couple more.
Simon Gutierrez : (18:26)
Mayor Wheeler, I do have a question. Can you hear me okay?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (18:28)
Simon Gutierrez : (18:30)
So you’ve spent some time with the demonstrators in the crowd. You’ve been exposed to tear gas yourself. We haven’t heard you say a lot about it. Can you talk a little bit about that experience? And the big question is I think a question on everyone’s minds, did you get any impression from anyone what it would take to end this nightly violence?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (18:51)
Yes. First of all, what was it like? It’s pretty awful when it comes right down to it. Tear gas is an ugly substance. It is very hard to use it in a targeted way. And that’s why the governor and Commissioner Hardesty and myself and the state police and the police bureau agree it should only be used in very limited circumstances, the threat of serious injury or loss of life. I was there watching it being used, from my perspective, in a broad and indiscriminate manner.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (19:32)
Physically what happens, and I obviously underdressed for the occasion, physically what happens is it makes your eyes sting. It feels like you’ve thrown something caustic in your eyes. So you’re forced to close your eyes and they tear up a lot, and it’s hard to breathe. You can only inhale maybe halfway and then you have to cough. You have to exhale. And the larger the dose, the stronger it gets, the more you have that sense that you have to get out of there or you can’t breathe. There’s a couple of other things I noticed though. Number one, I personally found it sort of hard to hear what was going on around me or understand what was going on around me.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (20:15)
I found that people after nightly exposure to CS gas have found ways to defeat it. The people around me were all wearing commercial respirators. I’m not sure to what degree it impacted them with those commercial respirators on, but they’re basically wearing the same things that the federal agents are wearing to protect them from it. And believe it or not, the guys out there with the leaf blowers, that actually works. One of those guys came by with a leaf blower and I immediately felt relief when he started blowing the group of people that I was standing with. All of this to say, well, and one more thing I’d note is, so I left after the second or third dosage of tear gas. Things were getting dicey. But upon continuing to listen to my radio all night, people were there all night.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (21:10)
So, it didn’t really deter them from being there. It may have cleared them out momentarily for a few minutes, but then they were obviously going right back. So as a tactic, it isn’t really all that effective. And that’s led me to the conclusion that this isn’t ever going to be solved, getting to your second question, it’s not going to be solved by public safety officers. This is going to be solved by us committing that we have heard, understood, and are demonstrably addressing the reforms and the changes that people have non-violently been protesting for for weeks. And we are. We’ve made historic changes at city hall. The state government has taken up historic legislation, which has been passed and supported by the governor. And our federal officers are working on federal-
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (22:03)
Governor and our federal law officers are working on federal legislation so that the public has been heard.
To follow up on that just quickly, you mentioned some of the things that have already happened, the legislation and some of the steps the city council has taken. There does not seem to have been any effect on the fervor or the passion with which some of these people are protesting and some of them, it’s not even clear what they want. How do you stop some of this violent activity?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (22:31)
So Simon, you got to separate the two. There are thousands of people who are down on the streets who are non-violently demonstrating for black lives, for racial justice and equity, and in the last couple of weeks, there’s no question that the fervor has escalated around the presence, the unwanted presence, of federal agents in our city, and so they’re coming to our city to defend our city against a federal government and an administration that seems hellbent on using federal law enforcement to target cities controlled by Democratic mayors. That is not America and so people are coming out and saying they want that piece to end.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (23:18)
There is also a small group of people and I met them up close in person, they are definitely there, who are there hellbent on violence and vandalism and I will tell you that as I was leaving the tear gas, there was a group of those folks who were trying to drag me back towards the tear gas. These are in my opinion a small group, they are involved in criminal activity, they are not there supporting in my opinion black lives or racial justice, they are there for other purposes. They are a distraction to the larger importance of this movement and many community leaders including prominent black leaders in our community have stated that, and so our job is to separate them, is to protect the First Amendment rights to assembly and free speech of the non-violent demonstrators and to hold accountable those who are engaged in criminal activity. That’s what needs to happen and that is what is happening. That’s what our law enforcement is committed to.
All right, thank you mayor. We’re going to take a couple more questions and then the mayor will have his last say here. How about Jeff [Mapes 00:24:30]? Jeff, you there? Good morning. Unmute.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (24:37)
Yeah, loud and clear.
Jeff Mapes: (24:39)
Okay. You say that you think that the local and state governments have been responding. A lot of the criticism though is that these are still baby steps at this point. How much further do you really see going … Would you say you’re 10 or 15% of the way there? You can talk about say the police budget, how big of changes … I’m trying to get a sense of how far you’re willing to move systematically.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (25:08)
The part in this that really energizes me is acknowledging that this is only the beginning. These are baby steps, these are things that should have been done decades ago and it’s not just around police reform. Right now in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the focus is definitely on police reform and as the mayor and the police commissioner and the face of government, the face of police in the city of Portland, that’s on me. It’s my responsibility to work with my colleagues and other people at the state and the federal level to reform our policing practices and we’ve been slow to reform our policing practices in this country and George Floyd threw the blindfold off that many of us had had over how serious this is and how far we have to go and we’re hearing from our black community that there is nothing about George Floyd that surprised them, that this has been going on for decades, for generations, and so we are now belatedly addressing these issues but we are addressing them and we are determined to move forward, but this can’t be the end of it.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (26:20)
Even if we end up with a perfect policing and accountability function in the city of Portland, are we there yet? The answer is no because we still have massive disparities around economic prosperity and wealth generation, around access to housing, around educational opportunities. Even around health, we still have massive health disparities and the list goes on and on and on. So I believe that it was public safety and policing that started this reform, but I think as we look back on this 20, 30 years from now, we are going to acknowledge that what was ignited around police reform lit a fire of determination on the part of the public to address all of the systemic inequities that exist in our society and they are massive and they are prevalent and they are in every institution that we know.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (27:20)
This to me is a great awakening. It’s been hard. The reckoning has been hard. It’s been messy, but this is so necessary. If we really as Americans want our American democracy to survive, if we really want our society to be sustainable, then this is a process that we must go through. It’s trial by fire, but Americans have shown generation after generation that they are up to the challenge, that they are resilient, and that we can work through this and I am as I say optimistic that we can.
Jeff Mapes: (27:57)
Do you think the protests need to continue to keep the pressure on local, state government, et cetera?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (28:05)
I believe non-violent protest has many manifestations and I do believe that there has to be constant pressure applied constantly in order to hold everybody accountable. Look, Americans have ridiculously short attention spans. I think we can [inaudible 00:28:24] to that, and I hope this isn’t a moment, I hope this really is a longterm movement towards true racial justice and equity and my current thinking is it’s that deep. This will go on for many, many years. I don’t think you’ll see the nightly demonstrations of the kind we’ve been seeing, but I think you will see more engagement by the public. We’re seeing people of all ages and all demographics want to be involved. I would encourage people to take some of the energy that’s out there on the streets and now let’s turn it toward the hard work of reform. Volunteer for organizations that support our BIPOC communities. Engage with leaders in those communities. Get to know your neighbors who maybe you don’t know as well and ask how can you be a supportive ally if you’re a white person like me or if you’re a person of color how can you further engage in the cause towards racial justice and equity?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (29:26)
It doesn’t all have to happen on the streets. It needs to happen within the doors of our institutions. If you work in housing or real estate, are you doing everything you can to avail opportunities to people of color? If you’re in banking, do the banking practices in your bank allow for minority entrepreneurs to be able to gain access to the resources they need to generate the kind of wealth that the majority community has enjoyed for generations? If you’re an educator, are you doing everything you possibly can to ensure that those who walk in the door on the first day of their educational experience with all kinds of barriers all stacked up, are you doing everything you can to remove those barriers so that those kids can have the fullest life possible and if you’re in the healthcare profession or the insurance profession, are you doing everything you can to ensure that people in our community who are lower income, who don’t speak English or speak English as a second language or come from a BIPOC community, are you doing everything you can to ensure that their outcomes around health and access to insurance are on par with the majority community? There’s tons of work to be done here.
[inaudible 00:30:49] thank you Jeff. Really got to wind this up here pretty quick folks. Everton Bailey, Oregonian.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (30:57)
Everton Bailey: (30:57)
Hey good morning. Thanks for taking the time Mayor. I have two questions, I’ll try to make them really quick. You said about 15 minutes or so that the federal government needs to work with local communities and in this case they are working with the state government, and so I was wondering if you have any concerns that Portland officials aren’t directly involved in negotiations involving Portland.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (31:25)
No, I actually don’t under these circumstances have any reservations whatsoever. We’ve been in communication with the governor and her team. I’ve had several conversations with the governor. She’s kept us in the loop and I do believe the conversations she has had with the vice president, the acting director, and others she can speak well for all of us and our needs here in the city of Portland. So I have no reservations whatsoever.
Everton Bailey: (31:55)
All right, and one more quick question. As the mayor, do you have any concern that another agency outside of city oversight is joining the fray in OSP?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (32:09)
Well first of all OSP has been working with the city of Portland. They have longstanding communication and similar training and the coordination and communication between OSP and the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County, the sheriff’s office, is rock solid so I don’t have any reservations or concerns there either.
Everton Bailey: (32:37)
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (32:38)
In fact Everton, I have invited OSP to the table on more than one occasion.
Everton thank you. Thank you. Blair Stenvick with The Mercury. Blair, do you have a question?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (32:51)
Blair Stenvick: (32:56)
Okay, can you hear me now?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (32:58)
Loud and clear.
Blair Stenvick: (33:00)
Okay, thanks. So you mentioned that OSP would only use tear gas
Blair Stenvick: (33:03)
So you mentioned that OSP would only use tear gas in specific circumstances. I’m wondering if you’ve worked out a similar standard on other uses of force we’ve seen, such as impact munitions or bull rushing crowds, and is it your hope or expectation that state troopers will do a better job at deescalating tensions than PPB has done?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (33:22)
My hope is that we will all do an outstanding job of deescalating tensions. As I mentioned, Blair, I made my first tactical directives as police commissioner regarding specifically LRAD and CS gas. CS gas has only been used twice during the month of July under very limited circumstances. The governor, Commissioner Hardesty, myself, the state police, and the Portland Police Bureau have agreed on a unified standard around the risk of serious injury or death. And the superintendent of the OSP and the chief of the Portland police have agreed to support that standard and are implementing that standard.
All right. Thank you. Blair. Rosemary Reynolds from KXL.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (34:15)
Hi, Rosemary. How are you today? Rosemary, you’re still muted.
Still muted. Rosemary, can you unmute? All right. Since we’re running out of time, let’s go-
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (34:34)
Hey. Wait a sec. Adam, can you unmute? Oh. There she is.
Now we’ve got her.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (34:38)
Good. Hi, Rosemary. That’s weird.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (34:47)
I show her un-muted.
Well, we’re at the mercy of technology here and it looks like she’s un-muted as well, but Rosemary I-
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (34:54)
Can she use the chat function? Is she able to just text in her question?
Yeah. Rosemary, if you can just put something in chat, we’ll try and get the mayor to answer that question for you. In the meantime, let’s keep it rolling. Jamie Goldberg, you are out there and you have a question for the mayor. Good morning.
Kyle Iboshi: (35:16)
Good morning. Hopefully you can hear me. Mayor, I was wondering, I’ve heard from a lot of business owners downtown that are concerned about their future. I know that your office was working on a plan to restore downtown and help business owners. I wonder if you have any more specific details on that plan and what you’re doing to help downtown’s restoration.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (35:39)
Yeah. First of all, thank you, Jamie, for the question. And I was proud of the fact that the city of Portland was the first jurisdiction in the state to actually put together a task force around economic resiliency and recovery during the COVID crisis. We were the first to push resources out to those businesses had been hit first and hardest by the economic crisis. We then created a partnership with the business community, with local foundations, with Prosper Portland, and put together a small business recovery fund that continues to grow and be deployed into the community. Just last week, the city of Portland allocated its CARES dollars. The largest portion, the largest allocation went towards household resiliency, supporting household everything from rent support, as well as essential household purchases. The second largest allocation was to small businesses. I believe that was a $15 million allocation, and that goes alongside state and federal resources for small business recovery.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (36:50)
That was critically important, obviously, because most people in this community are employed by small businesses. So while supporting their small businesses and helping those small businesses, those employers to thrive also helps households’ security. The plan for downtown specifically in working with a lot of people on my Economic Impact Task Force is to, number one, remove the federal presence. Number two, deescalate and end the nightly violence and vandalism. Number three, an aggressive action to clean up the downtown. And number four, reopen it and have a collective campaign to focus on downtown as being clean, ready for business, wanting people to come down within the constraints of phase one of the COVID recovery. And we will be working with our private sector partners to do that. And I’ve spent a ton of time communicating with business leaders throughout the city, both big business operators, small business entrepreneurs, everybody in between, and a lot of employees to talk about that recovery. And that’s what people want to do right now. They want to get back on their feet. And it’s important for the economic future of this city the downtown open soon.
Thank you. I’m sorry, Jamie, did you have a quick followup? Because we want [crosstalk 00:38:15].
Kyle Iboshi: (38:15)
I was just saying thank you.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (38:17)
Thank you, Jamie. Appreciate it.
We had planned to go to 10:30. So we’re now about 13 minutes over. We appreciate, Mayor, you spending this time. Did you have any final message that you wanted to share before we close?
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (38:28)
Yeah. I did. There’s just one personal note I wanted to put in here on behalf of Commissioner Hardesty she did not ask me to do this, but I wanted to do this. All of us are leading in different ways and she comes to the Portland City Council with a lived experience and life experiences that are different than myself. All of us are experiencing challenges during this time. And I have been watching how some people have been engaging with my colleague, Commissioner Hardesty, and because she is the only black woman on our city council, it has come to my attention, and I have seen it myself, that she is getting some emails that are just flat out racist.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (39:20)
If you ever wonder whether racism is still alive and well in the city of Portland, I can confirm that it is and that she has been subjected to it. And so what I want to tell everybody is you can disagree with Commissioner Hardesty or me or anyone else on the city council, but do not send the kind of emails that she has been receiving that go way over the line that are flat out racist, and in many cases threatening. Commissioner Hardesty and I will have our differences of opinion.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (39:57)
We will disagree. Sometimes because of the nature of the two of us, we will disagree loudly, but those kind of emails will never be acceptable in a civil society. And they are not acceptable anywhere in Portland City Hall. So if you have been sending them, do not send them. They are not welcome. And it’s beneath all of us to have to receive those emails, especially Commissioner Hardesty. I just wanted to say that.
All right, thank you, Mayor Wheeler. That will wrap it up for today’s press availability. If you didn’t get your question answered, please reach out to me. Pretty much all of you know how to do that, and I will do my best to get you that information. Thank you, everybody, for joining us today.
Mayor Ted Wheeler: (40:36)
Thank you, everybody.