Commissioner Pushed To Take Away Funds Earmaked For Blacks

A last-minute budget proposal was introduced by Portland, Oregon Commissioner Mingus Mapps at a City Council meetings last week to recollect nearly $6 million in funding and distribute the money elsewhere in the city budget. Mapps along with Commissioners Dan Ryan and Rene Gonzalez voted in favor of Mapp’s last minute scheme to defund Reimagine Oregon- the organization put in place to distribute the funds Reimagine Oregon. 

The organization’s director, Justice Rajee, said that he felt personally disrespected by Commissioner Mingus Mapps at Wednesday’s City Council meeting after Mapps repeatedly criticized Reimagine Oregon’s lack of action in distributing $5.8 million. The money set aside from Recreational Marijuana Tax funds by the city to help incubate Black-owned businesses in Portland.

Mapps repeatedly asked each of the speakers that came in support of Reimagine Oregon to provide specific services that are expected to be provided to Portlanders with the funds. Mapps said at the meeting. “One of the reasons we are considering carrying over these dollars for the fourth year is Reimagine Oregon has not been able to get these dollars out the door.”

It was reported that supporters were given a 2-hour notice that the funding was at risk of reallocation. The line up of support was Commissioner Carmen Rubio, Prosper Portland Director Chabre Vickers, Coalition of Communities of Color Executive Director Marcus Mundy and the Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon Sandy Chung.

It was noted by the supporters that the funding will be considered for “business incubator programs, management training, job training opportunities and providing economic opportunity and education to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.”

The biggest project that looks to build wealth in the Black communities around Portland is the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. It’s prime contractor Raimore Construction is a Black-owned and operated company that hires individuals and subcontractor businesses to work on the billion dollar bridge project. Funds used to train and provide economic capacity programs focused towards this project will be fully justified based on a number of articles written about the success of Raimore Construction. 

Some are relieved for now that Mapp’s Reimagine Oregon proposal failed to pass along with the council’s overall set of proposed budget changes. Listed as an emergency ordinance, the budget required the support of all five city council members. Rubio and Mayor Ted Wheeler voted against the budget. Council members will have a second chance at passing the budget on April 19.