As the State Turns

2017 Rainbow Gathering Brings the Poop
13,120: That’s how many people flocked to John Day for this year’s gathering. Hippies, homeless youth, jugglers, people dressed up in giant puppet suits, ninjas, pirates, psychics, aliens from outer space (and Idaho), purveyors of crazy hats, lots of naked people… they were all there. Referring to themselves as the “largest non-organization of non-members,” they’re probably both right and wrong, because yay for paradoxes. Two people and a dog died this year (and the dog sort of asked for it), but by and large the event is a peaceful one. Once a year people show up, do their thing, and take off. No harm, no foul. Unless, of course, you ask the Forest Service.

While organizers form the gathering have been quoted as saying they’d leave the space like they found it, it’s a tough line to swallow when you consider the sheer number of people, cars, campsites, trash, and poop holes that appear out of thin air. Did I mention that this is all in the Malheur National Forest? Oh yes. I suppose, at least thanks to the Bundy gang, the area has become well-acquainted with poop holes.

According to statements issued by the Forest Service, here is the form the gathering’s low impact has taken: meadows “reduced to dirt,” damage to grasses and vegetation, the displacement of native animals, fire risk due to uncovered campfires, etc. Adding to this, service officials have stated that the organization (er, non-organization) is less than forthcoming about the location of their site, so they’re constantly having to play catch-up in order to help minimize habitat damage. Beyond this, they refused to get the proper permits for camp gatherings beyond 75 persons, typically stating something about how they’re not a group, they just happen to all be there at once. If you’re a rancher with permits to graze on this particular bit of public land, let’s just say that you’re not happy.

Cost and diversion of Forest Service agents aside (not to mention all the arrests), it’s a complex issue with a lot of components to consider. Rainbow gatherers often cite their Constitutional rights in relation to their assembly on public land, and do gather a lot of money at the events that goes towards cleanup. Still, all joking aside, how do you clean up the environmental impact of 13,000-plus humans’ worth of feces and urine after a one-week accumulation with the “pass a hat around” method? My cat buries it too, but it’s still there. Trust me.

Judge Kicks Slumlords (and Others) in Nards
You remember nards, right? Good. And you may also remember the Portland ordinances put into effect a while back that miffed landlords due to their design to – you guessed it – protect renters. One such example is that tenants can legally receive somewhere between $2,900 and $4,500 from landlords that evict them without cause or jack the rent up over 10 percent in a single year.

The short version of the story is that a few landlords sued the city, and that suit has ended with a loss on their part. The long version? Get out of here, Dewey. You don’t want no part of this sh*t.

Oregon’s Sanctuary Expands
The illustrious House Bill 3464 has passed the Oregon legislature. The law expands Oregon’s “Sanctuary” claim by “[Prohibiting] public bod[ies] from disclosing specified information concerning person unless required by state or federal law.” This, of course, includes any information regarding immigration or citizenship status.

The bill was passed along purely partisan lines, meaning that once again Oregon Republicans have done nothing but prove themselves an ineffective doorstop in our state legislature. State Senator Republican Dennis Linthicum has publicly stated that his concerns lie within adhering to the federal immigration rules, considering the agency is federal and therefore “impacts all 50 states in the same way.” I’m sure he totally believes it, too.

And now for this ironic Dennis Linthicum quote: “I believe in constitutionally limited government, freedom to assemble, and personal independence. I will give voice to these principles in Oregon’s legislature. Oregon is a land of fearless innovators, hopeful pioneers, and hardworking dreamers. I will be a voice for each one of you in Oregon’s legislature, ensuring that our liberties are maintained and we all have freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in our great state.”

By Johnny Beaver