On Tuesday’s broadcast of NewsNation’s “On Balance,” Portland City Commissioner of Public Safety Rene Gonzalez stated that he posted that people shouldn’t call 911 unless their life was in danger, a crime was in progress, or there was a chance of catching a suspect on Monday due to the police being overwhelmed with overdoses and that said the city was “probably too tolerant and accepting as a city…on some of these behaviors that really destroyed the livability for everyone else.” Gonzalez also stated that “we’ve focused too much sometimes on the user, on the migratory homeless in defining who we should be building government around” at the expense of people who want to contribute to society and have a nice place to live.
Gonzalez said, “[O]ur 911 systems are overwhelmed right now. And so, we’ve got to confront this crisis head-on. We need to alleviate unlivability in our city. And so, we need to take a strong stand in Portland livability, and the city council is doing that.”
Gonzalez then turned to the city decriminalizing drugs, and stated, “Well, part of the issue was this promise of addiction services that was supposed to come online. And, unfortunately, this got rolled out in the middle of the pandemic, when our health authority was already overwhelmed. But that’s what voters were sold on, that we were decriminalizing addiction, that we would stand up substantial state-level addiction services. That just didn’t come about. I think that was the surprise. What was predictable is that Measure 110 would attract certain elements to the city that were looking for that lifestyle. And, as a city, we’re taking a hard stand, increasingly, to push back on that now.”
Gonzalez further stated that “the combination of Measure 110, 9th Circuit law on outdoor camping has really tied the city’s hands to address these issues. And frankly, we were probably too tolerant and accepting as a city, even without those things, on some of these behaviors that really destroyed the livability for everyone else.”
He added, “We’ve been pushing certain forms of judicial reform for the last decade in the state and in our county. We’re now paying the piper for that. Some well-intentioned things have had some really negative impacts, including early release of property crime perpetrators and even drug sellers.” Gonzalez also touted the city banning drugs and stated that the city is responding and making some progress.
Gonzalez concluded, “I will say the big thing is that we need to re-center families and entrepreneurs and those who build organizations in our policy discussions and we’ve focused too much sometimes on the user, on the migratory homeless in defining who we should be building government around. So, that’s the big reset, that we need to center those who contribute and are just looking for a good place to live.”
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