Portland Butts, Crazy Trains, Evangelical Nonsense

stateturnssymbolPortland Drop-Kicks Butts Out of Parks
Cigarette butts, that is. See what I did there?

You better smoke ‘em while you got ‘em, as they say, because effective July 1 of this year cloves, snuff, pot, e-cigarettes, hookahs, cigars, cigarettes, cigarillos, and most likely putting loose leaf tobacco up your yin-yang will be disallowed in all Portland city parks. Portland will be joining 64 other Oregon cities and counties that have already passed such a ban. If you are caught in violation of the new ban, you’ll face a possible misdemeanor or even another ban… a ban of you, from the parks. Where you can’t go to the parks anymore, because of what you did.

While most people seem to be supporting the ban, one is left to wonder, what’s next? Will they ban pooping in the park? I don’t know if that’d be a world I’d want to live in.

Groundhog Day: Northwest Edition
If you have been tuned in to DailyTrainNews.net (this is not a real site), you likely know about the big oil train derailment that just happened in West Virginia. It crashed, stuff went all over, fire happened, yadda yadda.

What I find interesting is the rash of news pieces that have broken out in our neck of the woods, all of them largely saying something to the effect of “Herpderp, train explosion. PacNW lawmakers thinking about oil transport safety.” You see, I could have sworn that the last two dozen times this happened the rhetoric was identical. Are the same lawmakers still considering the situation from before, or do they start considering it all over again when something flies off the rails and explodes? Like a time loop. Or maybe it’s more abstract than that, and we can’t sort it out without some Adderall, kryptonite, and a protractor.

Now, normally I just ignore the slow grind of government, because I’m painfully aware of how it can get gummed up. There’s a whole lot of “urging” going on in the direction of Congress to enhance the involved safety standards, but we all know how urges work. I have the urge to pee right now, but I want to finish this article so it’s likely going in my pants.

The fact is, oil by rail transport has seen a huge increase in the Pacific Northwest, possibly exponential, and it’s not exactly a spring chicken. It’s transforming the region at a rapid rate, yet the ratio of wheels being spun to legislation being signed looks a bit like the ratio of cereal to cockroach parts in a box of Life. Washington is actually dragging its ass to the point where one bill that’s being considered, House Bill 1449, requires companies to disclose what’s being transported along what routes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems like something that should have been part of the first regulations when they were put in place on July 2, 1979, the day the Funk died.

But hey, if it makes you feel any better, an Oregon State Fire Marshal survey found that 81% of all state fire departments are lacking the equipment needed to successfully fight an oil fire after a derailment. This way if an oil train derails, slides through your housing flinging molten goo and flaming hobos all nimbly-bimbly, you can rest assured that you likely won’t survive to regret not buying that oil transport crash insurance.

LGBT-Friendly Pastor Sees Church Backlash
Sometimes people forget that Oregon exists in 21st century America. Yes, for the most part we’re kind of a liberal stronghold (despite the fact that our capitol has a rather disturbing number of anti-abortion billboards), but every once in a while we get a nice reminder that there’s a long way to go, even in our own backyard.

Cut to the First Christian Church in downtown Portland. If you haven’t been, you should rectify that. It’s got beautifully crafted stained glass windows, a high ceiling, and is pretty damn big to boot. And this is good because it might need to house more than one congregation if the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) gets its way.

Pastor Adam Phillips is on the outs with the ECC it was once aligned with because of his long-standing support for the LGBT community. As part of an ECC trend to react more harshly regarding marriage equality and similar issues, they questioned Phillips about whether or not he’d hire an LGBT person, would let them give Communion, etc. In the end, the ECC decided to expel him from the church altogether.

Of course, now congregants are forced to choose between Phillips and the church, which isn’t necessarily an easy call. Many who support Phillips are still very hurt by the split, and additionally they’ll be facing a financial fight. The $50,000 a year they were getting from the ECC has now disappeared, go figure, and if they can’t raise the money to stay afloat, it’ll be done for.

Good times.

By Johnny Beaver

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