Building a city of opportunity in which citizens have access to economic opportunity; live in neighborhoods with an array of amenities; and feel safe in their community requires responsible government that provides excellent service to its citizens.
Mayor Hales took office with the promise of “back to basics” government that repaired the fundamentals — closing the largest budget deficit in the city’s history, paving neglected streets, instituting better City Council oversight of bureaus. He has sought to make city operations efficient and effective; the goal of every public meeting and draft plan is actual change, actual improvement.
Implicit in these efforts is transparent, accessible government. The mayor has encouraged people from the city’s diverse groups to become involved in government — committees, commissions, neighborhood associations — to help provide better representation and to improve access to city government for all Portlanders. Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/dashboard to track metrics on key city indicators. Because ultimately, the government is working for you.
Mayor Hales' Priorities and Accomplishments, 2014-16
Working with the Somali community: When Mayor Hales heard that the East African All Stars basket-ball team, comprised of young men from Portland’s Somali community, needed uniforms for their basketball tournament, he reached out to friends at Nike. The company generously donated 15 uni-forms. The Somali American Council of Oregon has worked with Mayor Hales in city public safety and economic development groups.
Increasing Future Connect funding: The Future Connect Scholarship, covering the first two years at Portland Community College, is designed to create a pathway to an associate’s degree by helping young people who are low-income or first-generation college attendees with the financial burden of attending college — a tremendous barrier. The mayor will in-crease funding from the $432,000 he allocated last year.
SUN Schools: Part of Mayor Hales’ $2.15 million investment in complete neighborhoods in the 2014-15 budget went to Schools Uniting Neighborhoods, or SUN Schools. The program provides after-school programs and family food boxes for students in low-income schools. The mayor’s allocation added 10 new schools to the 70 existing SUN schools, and provided permanent funding for five sites that faced expiring grants.
“3 to Ph.D.”: Mayor Hales in the fall allocated $100,000 for the Portland Public Schools/Concordia Early Childhood Learning Project, which will help the early learning program in Concordia’s age “3 to Ph.D.” initiative, supporting quality education. In 2013 the mayor also budgeted $100,000 for the Earl Boyles Early Works program.
Water district, Blue Ribbon Commission: In the May 2014 election, special interests attempted to strip the city of its water and sewer districts. Those interests ran an aggressive campaign, and Mayor Hales worked with City Council to lobby against it, emphasizing the need to have centralized Council oversight for better accountability and service. When Portland voters decided overwhelmingly against it, Mayor Hales worked with Commissioner Nick Fish, who’s in charge of the water and sewer bureaus, to create a Utility Oversight Blue Ribbon Commission, to recommend potential reforms in oversight and accountability. They issued recommendations in December 2014.
Urban Renewal Areas: In 2014 Mayor Hales announced a plan to redraw Urban Renewal Areas, which dedicate a large por-tion of property taxes to redevelopment. The project is expected to be completed in 2015, putting more than $800 million back on the tax rolls, effectively increasing the city’s budget by $1.5 million; increasing Multnomah County’s budget by $1.5 million; and increasing the Common School Fund by about $1 million.
Gun control: The mayor in 2013 and 2014 supported State Sen. Ginny Burdick’s strong advocacy for sensible laws to reduce violence associated with the illegal use of guns. In 2013, Oregon saw 461 deaths due to firearms. This legislative session, the city team is lobbying to support closing loopholes in background check requirements for the purchase of firearms.
Immigrant rights: Mayor Hales supported President Obama’s executive action on the nation’s broken immigration policies. Immigration is a federal issue, but it’s also an issue of basic equity. Along with mayors nationwide, Mayor Hales urged Con-gress to act as well, and pass meaningful immigration reform. During the summer of 2014, an influx of unaccompanied mi-nors attempted to immigrate to the United States. The mayor contacted the state leadership and the local organization that sponsored many of the youths, and assured them that Portland would be a safe harbor for children fleeing failed states.
Union contract: Mayor Hales’ Office worked with the District Council of Trade Unions, a coalition of seven unions represent-ing 1,600 city workers, to move beyond an impasse, avoid a strike and agree on a four-year contract with the city.
Budget guidance: Mayor Hales' 2015-16 budget guidance to city bureau directors and budget managers called for stabilization budgets, but instructed budget writers to focus resource requests on equity and opportunity, complete neighborhoods, and emergency preparedness.
“As we look ahead to this and future City budgets, I want to ensure that City resources are allocated to the programs that have a direct impact on the lives of our citizens,” Hales said. “We find ourselves today in a place of relative fiscal stability. While this is good news for the City, I want to ensure we take advantage of the current economic situation to make wise, fiscally prudent investments. Portland’s strong economy has been a key economic driver for the state, but the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, wage growth remains flat, and those most in need are benefitting the least.
“We need to ensure that everything we love about Portland is accessible to all Portlanders," Hales continued. "We need to focus on maintaining the assets and infrastructure that we currently own; and we need to continue to invest in new ideas that will maintain Portland’s place as a leader in innovative urban policy.” READ MORE
2014-15 Budget: Following a budget of deep cuts, Mayor Hales crafted a $3.58 billion maintenance budget, with $9 million in discretionary funds. The discretionary spending was focused on three goals: complete neighborhoods; addressing homelessness; and emergency preparedness. The mayor worked with Multnomah County to coordinate key elements of both budgets, including partnering to expand the number of SUN Schools by 10; fund services for victims of sexual exploitation; and maintain Short Term Rent Assistance to prevent people from becoming homeless. The mayor redrew the city’s Urban Renewal Areas to return an estimated $1.06 billion to the tax rolls, providing approximately $5 million to the city, county and school budgets this year and about $6 million in 2015-16.
2013-14 Budget: In a dramatic move, Mayor Hales took all the budgets from commissioners when he started his first term, and handed them back after the budget was written. In doing so, he started shaping bureaus to emphasize equity in their work, and also made the massive cuts necessary — $21.5 million — to balance the city’s budget. Mayors Vera Katz and Tom Potter took similar steps to ensure the budget process was done without bias.