- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Portland, Oregon, city commissioner who wants to cut millions of dollars from the city’s police bureau placed her own call to 911 last weekend after her Lyft driver cut her ride short.

Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees Portland’s emergency dispatch system, called the police on a Lyft driver on the evening of Nov. 1 after he tried to drop her off at a Chevron gas station instead of her intended destination because of a disagreement about the windows, according to police documents reviewed by The Oregonian.

Richmond Frost, a Lyft driver of four years, told the publication that Ms. Hardesty demanded he roll up the windows because she was cold. He said he rolled them up to only a crack and informed her that Lyft policy now requires windows to be open for ventilation during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I did say, ‘It’s for my safety and your safety.’ But that was like pouring gas on her fire,” he said. “She demanded that I close that window right now. She was kind of ballistic at that point.”

Mr. Frost said he ultimately decided to cancel the trip and tried to let Ms. Hardesty out of the car at an open gas station, but she refused.

“She was not a pleasant person,” he said. “That has nothing to do with her political position as a Portland council person. I’m out here doing my job. She was very disrespectful to me, made me uncomfortable. I don’t feel like I have to sit in a car for anyone to have to argue unrelentingly and be rude and abusive, telling me what I have to do in my own vehicle.”

Ms. Hardesty then called the police from the back seat of Mr. Frost’s car, according to audio obtained by The Oregonian, telling dispatchers, “Well, I’ve got a Lyft driver that decided he would just drop me off at a filling station. Well, I’m not getting out of the car, in the dark, at a filling station, not happening — all because I asked him to put the window up. I’m not leaving.”

The dispatcher informed the commissioner several times that no crime had been committed and that her complaint was a civil matter, The Oregonian reported.

“I am not going to allow him to leave me at the side of the road,” Ms. Hardesty responded.

Mr. Frost then placed his own call to the police before a patrol car arrived. Police said the incident was ultimately resolved and both parties went their separate ways after Ms. Hardesty ordered another Lyft.

In a complaint to Lyft obtained by The Oregonian, Ms. Hardesty wrote, “It is totally inappropriate to expect a woman to get out of a vehicle in the dead of night because any angry person demands it. This is a safety issue for your customer. Your driver was in no danger.”

A member of a Lyft Safety Team identified as Garry reportedly responded, “As a reminder, drivers are free to end a ride for any reason as long as the drop-off is in a safe location.”

Ms. Hardesty has been pushing for a budget amendment that would reallocate $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau to reinvest in community, COVID-19 relief, and police alternatives, Fox News reported. The amendment failed to pass last week.

Ms. Hardesty has also made anti-police statements in the past. Amid the George Floyd unrest in July, she accused Portland police of intentionally lighting fires and sending provocateurs into peaceful crowds to create “chaos” in the city.

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