City council takes no action on police funding (again)

On Tuesday, July 20, Eugene City Council held two with regards to “public safety”. The first one taking place at the usual early evening work session time and focusing on the Community Safety Initiative budget, the second, pushed to after the public hearing because of time, focusing on policies of the police.

The first work session was kickstarted with a presentation from Eugene Police Chief Skinner on the history of police reforms and current state of budget for the Eugene Police Department. Having the police chief at the top deeply foretold the way the conversation would go: centering the conversation around policing in community safety and having it fit into how it best fits EPD. Absent from the table were representatives for the other recipients of the Community Safety Initiative tax. Neither was there any representative from CAHOOTS, an organization many have called to receive more funding. City Council chose not to take a holistic and look at upstream solutions.

At the close of the work session they chose not to take any action, except to direct City Manager to set up community workshops. In the motion made by Councilor Semple and seconded by Councilor Yeh, it directed the City Manager to work with communities of color and report back on a timeframe for these workshops to the city council in September. Organizers of the workshops would seek feedback on changes or additions to the Community Safety Initiative. Many groups have already floated their demands before the meeting, including a coalition of groups presenting “People’s CSI Budget”.

In the following work session, City Council approved a motion that sets up a committee to propose policies related to Campaign Zero and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, a task force created by the Obama administration and that released a report in 2015. The ad-hoc committee will consist of 30 members in total. Two from each of the following groups: Civilian Review Board, Police Commission, Human Rights Commission, Black Unity, Central Latino Americano, LULAC, Blacks in Government, Transponder, 15th night advisory committee, NAACP, Asian and Pacific Islander advisory team, Eugene Islamic Center, and a yet to be named indigenous group. The last four will be appointed by the mayor. Originally the motion that was crafted by Councilor Evans and Councilor Yeh only specified members from the groups listed, but other councilors wanted more flexibility.

The City council voted compensate the members of this committee at a rate of $15 per hour. Either as wages or as a stipend based off of the time of the meetings beforehand.

All the motions of the night were approved 7-1, Councilor Taylor dissenting on all votes. She made sure to get in something she said before, that she thought all racist policies had gone away a long time ago.

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