Or, Terrible Things That Have Happened in States That Passed Same-Sex Marriage
Behold the Amazon page for the Playmobil Security Check Point, which comes with an adorable metal detector, little plastic x-ray machine, two FAA agents, some luggage, and a highly suspicious "passenger." But don't miss the delightful reviews:
I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.
And (click to enlarge) this one:
A San Francisco supervisor wants to rename the city's airport in honor of civil rights leader Harvey Milk, a change supporters said would send a global message about the importance and struggles of gays and lesbians for equality. Supervisor David Campos will introduce legislation Tuesday that would place the proposal to rename San Francisco International Airport as Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport before voters in November. To send the name change to voters, Campos needs the support of five other supervisors, and Monday he already had four co-sponsors.
I love this idea—and I can't wait to read the first story about someone's luggage being lost in "the bowels" of Harvey Milk.
Local bike-ped-transit news magazine Portland Afoot has dug into the numbers on TriMet's bus routes and determined which lines are the most and least reliable.
Here's the rundown of 2012 Portland bus rankings:
MOST FREQUENT: The 72-Killingsworth, with 218 trips, followed by the 4-Division, with 174 trips.
LEAST FREQUENT: SW Portland's 55-Hamilton has only four trips per weekday and the 18-Hillside has only five.
MOST RELIABLE: TriMet records how often buses "bunch" together on a route, arriving one right after the other, which means one bus is running late. Of the "frequent service" buses, the most on-time lines are the 57-TV Highway and the 75-Cesar Chavez.
LEAST RELIABLE: Of the frequent service buses, the most frequent are also the least on-time, with the 72 buses "bunching up" 28 percent of the time and the 4 line bunching up 26 percent of the time.
MOST CROWDED: The 35-Macadam takes the prize, for being "above capacity" on 11 percent of trips.
The Oregonian ran a hard-knuckle story this weekend exposing TriMet scheduling practices that allow overtime-hungry bus operators to work as many as 22 hours in a single day—and also joining concerns about that policy to crash reports and complaints from riders about drivers falling asleep at stoplights.
Everyone's rightly stirred up about it. But it's also worth pointing out the hoops TriMet made the reporter, Joe Rose, jump through in order to get the public records that served as the basis for his piece: Thousands of dollars in fees and stonewalling so intense the paper had to get the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office involved. The paper detailed the process in an editorial posted last night.
Over many months, Rose requested records pertaining to a runaway MAX train, and bus and rail operator work schedules. He met roadblocks by the transit agency, which argued the documents did not exist as he'd requested them—that they would need to be created and thus were not public documents available for the asking. So Rose and his editors capitulated and asked for the data as TriMet kept it. And TriMet's reply was another roadblock: to convert its data into PDF files, forcing a laborious process by Rose and his associates of "cut-and-paste" searching across some 8,000 pages. Oh, and The Oregonian would ultimately pay $500 for the privilege, pushing its total TriMet tab for records to about $2,400.
Significantly, the release of information pertaining to the runaway train required the intervention of the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office. Despite TriMet's initial confusing reports about whether a Yellow Line MAX train had even crashed—it did, into an abutment, with two passengers on board and withstanding $60,000 in damage owing to a sleeping driver—TriMet was forced to abandon its position of cloaking the event as a personnel matter under investigation. Then-District Attorney Michael Schrunk decided the public had a right to know about it, ordering compliance with The Oregonian's request, and noted in his May 3, 2012 report: "This was an extraordinary event with seemingly very little investigation."
Oregon public records law makes noises about transparency. But with loopholes allowing for "cost recovery" for complicated requests, the rules give agencies an easy and legal way to hold things back by making things more complicated than needed and, thus, too expensive for smaller operations and actual citizens to obtain.
It's good the daily in town still has the money to chase this kind of document dump and pay a lawyer for a court fight, if it came to that. We've had to do it before, too. But not everyone can, and don't think public officials in this state aren't well aware of that advantage.
Portland's Bureau of Transportation—enduring millions in mid-year budget cuts thanks, in part, to unreliable gas-tax revenues—has found a way to raise a bit more cash. Like they've done for the past few years, fines for parking violations will jump up starting February 7—led by a $15 increase in the fine for failing to pay a meter.
Cheryl Kuck, a PBOT spokeswoman, says the bureau is expecting the newly increased fines to raise an additional $700,000 a year. But it's not just about the money, she contends. It's also about making the fines ugly enough that more people people are persuaded not to skirt the law. No-meter violations have gone down, but not quite enough, she says. Other violations have actually increased since 2010.
"The number of violations," Kuck says, "hasn't dropped to a level we were content with."
The sale looks like it'll be investigated as a raw deal to stockholders, but if the sale goes through, it could mean big changes for Zipcar.
Carsharing is very popular in Portland, where about 15 percent of residents don't own a car. In fact, the first carsharing company in the country opened in Portland in 1998: a fleet of four Dodge Neons that founder David Brook dubbed "Carsharing Portland." That company was bought by Seattle-based Flexcar, which merged with Zipcar in 2007. In that way, Avis's acquisition of Zipcar is just the latest in a pattern of companies gobbling carsharing start-ups.
The Washington Post predicts the buy-out will spell doom for Zipcar. Writer Steven Pearlstein says, essentially, Avis's old-school corporate mindset will kill the creativity and adaptability that made Zipcar thrive. Pearlstein forsees Avis centralizing pickup points for cars, rather than having them spread conveniently all over the city; merging Zipcar's website with Avis's; and trying to annoyingly upsell customers on insurance and hotel deals.
On the other hand, change might be good for Zipcar. Their market dominance has been threatened recently by Mercedes Benz-owned Car2Go, which has a fleet of pint-size cars that, unlike Zipcars, don't have to be returned to the same spot after rental. Another company that lets people offer their own cars to share, Getaround, is also increasingly popular. With Avis' money behind it, Zipcar might be able to incorporate some of the best features of those companies or improve its own service.
Here is your handy guide to TrIMet holiday schedule changes during the next week.
Christmas Eve – Monday, Dec. 24
All trains and buses are on regular weekday schedules.
Christmas Day – Tuesday, Dec. 25
All buses and MAX trains operate on Sunday schedules. Watch out, because not all bus lines run on Sundays. WES will not be operating.
New Year’s Eve – Monday, Dec. 31
All buses, MAX trains and WES will be operating on regular weekday schedules. AFTER 8PM, TRIMET IS FREE!
Additionally, MAX Blue, Green and Yellow line trains will run until 3 am with service approximately every 35 minutes. MAX Red Line will not run late. However, after train service ends, shuttle buses will be available to take riders between Gateway Transit Center and PDX Airport, until about 3:30 am.
New Year’s Day – Tuesday, Jan. 1
All buses and MAX trains will run on Sunday schedules. WES will not be operating.
UPDATE: TriMet just sent out a press release about Buster with pics! Read it after the jump!
Something good! On the bus! It's a Christmas miracle, guys! In stark contrast to our "True Tales of TriMet Terror" feature from this summer, I was greeted by a tail-wagging bundle of cute when I got on the #14 this morning. Buster, a graying beagle with a jangly collar, came rip-roaring off the bus to do a bit of sniffing by my feet. (Apparently all dogs named Buster end up riding the bus at some point!) The bus driver, Chera Collings, started yelling, "Buster! Come here, Buster!" and we got him back on the bus. Apparently she saw him running across the freeway near SE 94th and Foster, stopped the bus, and saved him from being hit by traffic. He was shaking and scared, and she promptly put him on the bus and called the phone number on his dog tags. But his people weren't home. So li'l Buster was delighting all the TriMet bus riders as he cruised up and down the aisle, getting pets and nice words from a group of folks who normally aren't so full of smiles and endearments. One gal got on the bus at SE Division, was told Buster's story and promptly checked him for injuries, like cuts and scrapes, and she gave him a clean bill of health. Turns out she was a vet tech. A stop later, the bus driver's supervisor was waiting in a TriMet vehicle to take Buster
to headquarters where he would wait for his people to come get him home. He left with his tail wagging like a crazy dog.
So I think the moral of this story is that every TriMet route could really use a therapy pup. I haven't seen riders look that happy since it snowed earlier this week.
Hit the jump for the full story on how Buster got home.
The train dubbed "Eco Ride" works just like a coaster but without everybody putting their hands in the air like they just don't care. It's cranked up hill for the first station and then just cruises to the next one. Quick, painless, and if we're lucky, containing at least one barrel roll.
The Portland City Council today delivered on another of Mayor Sam Adams' squeeze-it-in-while-he-still-can priorities, approving a still-controversial plan for parking meters and parking permits in Northwest Portland that Adams has billed as an end to the neighborhood's "toxic" parking wars.
Today's vote was not, however, a unanimous vote—signaling that the fight over parking in Northwest might not be as solved as Adams and his supporters would suggest. Commissioner Nick Fish "respectfully," as he put it on the dais, simply voted "no." With Dan Saltzman out sick, that left Adams with a bare-minimum coalition including his ally, Randy Leonard, and a cagey Amanda Fritz who used her leverage as the third vote to wedge in some amendments that may, in fact, allow the next council to reopen the issue.
Fish's dissent, however, maybe especially for council watchers, was particularly notable. For one, it came without the lengthy conditionals and rhetoric that Fish normally appends to his votes, on either side of an issue. And the fact that he was the lone dissenter also was rare: Fish will usually work back-channels to shift a policy so he can find some way to justify getting onto the winning coalition.
I caught up with Fish at the end of a long day of meetings and asked him if he might care to elaborate a bit more. He did.
"I'm a realist," he said. "The mayor had his three votes. So all that was left was for me to state my objection." But without, he told me in as many words, publicly raining on the mayor's parade.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, during today's marathon city council meeting, refused to bless a pilot project for a pedestrian-only “entertainment zone” in the neighborhood on an "emergency" basis that would have let cops and city transportation workers start in on it immediately.
The program, which we reported on way back in October, would close the blocks between NW 2nd and 4th Avenues from West Burnside to NW Everett to all vehicle traffic from 10pm to 3am every Friday and Saturday. And because this isn't Bourbon Street, public drinking would remain banned.
Cops and neighbors mostly like it, at least enough to try it out for 90 days, but Fritz wanted to wait to gather a bit more information and assurances that the freedom of a pedestrian zone won't make noise and other woes like hooliganism any worse.
"What I like about it is it's a proposal. It's a trial," Commander Bob Day of the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct said. "I'm not married to the idea. But you have to take risks once in a while."
Mayor Sam Adams said he expected removing cars would make cops more visible and, thus, make people "less boisterous." He also, seemingly invoking the specter of yesterday's shootings at Clackamas Town Center, expressed his disappointment that the plan wouldn't be in place for New Year's Ee.
"We have a lot of guns around right now," he said. "I don't want to mess around."
The interim between today's hearing and when the proposal was first aired did result in some changes. The cops had wanted the zone to start at 9 PM, but neighbors told them to change it to 10 or take a hike. Anyone of the area's disabled residents, or anyone who needs special care, will be able to have cars pick them up no matter the time. And cops will also be trained on noise control and will carry meters.
The final vote is next week.
Skip to 18:29 below, or have it start at 18:29 for you right here. (You're welcome.)
TriMet is adding extra trains and buses tomorrow to accommodate two big events happening right at the same time: The US women's soccer team versus Ireland match at Jeld-Wen field and Bruce Springsteen at the Rose Garden.
Both of these events are likely to cram TriMet, as people head to them right during rush hour, so TriMet is adding extra MAX trains to run after the Springsteen concert, plus running special bus service that will ferry people between downtown Portland and Jeld-Wen field. Here are the details on those buses:
• Before the match (from 5:30-7pm), catch buses across from MAX stations at Mall/SW 5th Ave and Galleria/SW 10th Ave.
•After the match, catch buses across from stadium’s main entrance on Morrison Street at 18th Ave. Riders will be dropped off at three MAX stations (Library/SW 9th Ave, Pioneer Square South and Mall/SW 4th Ave) to get to parking garages or connect with MAX Green or Yellow line trains.
A draft Portland Bureau of Transportation budget document obtained by the Mercury reveals several big revenue-raising measures the city will consider to shore up transportation funding as soon as possible. PBOT Director Tom Miller has pondered many ideas at public meetings on the bureau’s finances. But several plans have become serious enough that a specially convened PBOT task force of outside financial advisors has placed them atop a draft of a report expected to go before Portland City Council as soon as next month.
UPDATE 11/28: We just posted the draft document online here. Give it a read! /update
At the top of the list of possibilities is a street maintenance fee. This to-be-determined fee would be added to the monthly water and sewer bill of property owners and go into the transportation budget to fix the city's longstanding backlog of maintenance issues like its 60 miles of unpaved streets. Twenty-one cities and towns in Oregon already have a street maintenance fee and Portland's considered the idea several times, most recently at then-Commissioner Sam Adams' prodding in 2007.
Coupled with this would be a local gas tax, PBOT's draft suggests. Two Portland suburbs, Milwaukie and Tigard, already have gas taxes of two and three cents per gallon and PBOT suggests Portland introduce one as an "interim measure" while the city figures out better long-term funding sources. The draft of the document includes a note saying this idea may be struck out from the final recommendations, given that it's not a good long-term funding model.
The transportation bureau is facing a $4.5 million budget hole in part because its funding stream is unsustainable—built on one-time city money, federal grants, and the state gas tax. The PBOT draft budget memo succinctly spells out the problems with relying on the gas tax:
• It has been eroding in real value for decades.
• At every level of government, we lack political will to raise the gas tax to a rate that would meet today’s growing needs for transportation services.
• The nation’s policy interests in fuel economy will make the gas tax unreliable as a primary means of transportation funding in little more than a decade. This is exacerbated in Portland as more citizens choose fuel efficient vehicles and/or non-auto travel modes.
In the long run, the memo supposes, it's likely that the state will switch from a gas tax to a statewide tax based on vehicle miles driven. But meanwhile, the local gas tax and street maintenance fee could defray city cuts.
Another option floated in the memo, prepared by bureau head Tom Miller, include making the price of parking in Smart Park garages and downtown meters more market-based. Currently, the city only has market-based parking around Jeld-Wen field during Timbers' games—but there it's been very successful, tripling the daily city revenue per parking spot.
Sam Adams pushed hard for a local gas tax and street maintenance fee in 2008, but pulled the plug on his "Safe, Sound, and Green Streets" plan after oil company lobbyists vowed to refer it to voters and polling showed only 55 percent of Portlanders would support a monthly $4.54 fee.
The city seems to be mostly quietly adjusting to the most recent round of public transit budget cuts. Rider grumbling hasn't stopped the price of a TriMet ticket from jumping to $2.50 or brought free rail back to downtown.
Except in one neighborhood, where outcry over September's transit cuts is loud and clear and gathering steam. In NE Portland's Woodlawn neighborhood, the complaints will actually lead to change, with TriMet promising to repair the situation.
TriMet cut service on nine bus lines and reconfigured 15 others to save $1.1 million this year—$500,000 of that came from whacking the last 2.5 miles off the #8 bus line, which used to end at North Portland's Jubitz Truck Stop. Businesses and residents along NE Dekum in the Woodlawn neighborhood were mostly surprised to learn that the end of the line changed overnight, now dropping buses, drivers, and riders middle of Woodlawn's fledgling business district four blocks east of Martin Luther King Avenue.
Now, up to three buses at a time line up in front of Woodlawn Park and at peak times, six buses an hour circle the outdoor cafe at the Firehouse Restaurant.
For the past two months, neighbors have been meeting with TriMet to voice their complaints about the change. They're joined by TriMet drivers, whose union penned a forceful letter (pdf) in September saying the change has stressed out drivers.
The MAX is popular in Portland, but light rail projects are very controversial in the city's suburbs. Vancouver, Washington, weighed a proposal that was crucial to funding the Columbia River Crossing project: Voters were asked to approve a small sales tax hike raising $2 million annually to cover operating costs for the bridge's light rail link planned between Portland and Vancouver. Instead, the tax was soundly rejected. Federal and local legislators have repeatedly said that the CRC will not be built if it doesn't include light rail.
Scrambling for a Plan B, the CRC project proposed raising the money from other sources, including cutting bus routes planned to run over the bridge, adding a surcharge on transit tickets, and charging for parking at Park and Ride stations.
Meanwhile, Clackamas voted in two anti-"Portland creep" conservative candidates to the county commission last week, both of whom have promised to oppose the already-under-construction Portland-Milwaukie light rail line. In September, Clackamas voted heavily in favor of an measure that forces a county-wide vote on public light rail decisions—likely killing any future rail lines in Clackamas, if the current political environment holds.
...and of course, it takes place in England. Can you seriously imagine one of those dipshit Vancouverites in their Dodge Ram 4X4s being as logical and pleasant as these Brits? No, you cannot, "my friend." Because I would just end up kissing them.
Ladies, a note from us he-men: We're kind of tired of driving you around in our very manly 4X4 Dodge Rams (because we like to RAM things, ya know?), and have decided you need a car of your very own. THAT'S RIGHT, we've reversed our previous decision on "women drivers" and think you are ready to get behind the pink wheel of your very own pink car. So we called the Japanese, told them to design a car for women, and voila!
THE HONDA "SHE'S"
Isn't it... oh, what's that word you females use? "ADORABLE"? And we know you're gonna love it for the following reasons (from LifeInc.):
1) It's pink. Just like your vaginas.
2) Its windshield is "designed to block skin-wrinkling ultraviolet rays," and a "Plasmaculture" climate control system was installed to improve "skin quality." Because no one will like you when you're old.
3) It has a pink key!
This is coming to TriMet:
The ad is being run by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative (please take a moment to laugh at their logo), a far-right group affiliated with Stop Islamization of America, who have also bought bus ads in New York telling Islamic Americans to reject their religion.
The current "savage" ads are running all over the country, supposedly in response to the factual pro-Palestinian ad proclaiming UN's count of Palestinian refugees. It's worth point out that many Jewish groups aren't happy the Freedom Defense Initiative new race-baiting ads.
TriMet has long-feared a situation just like this. Until 2009, the transit agency banned political ads from its buses and trains. But they were sued by Oregon's Kaluk Tribe and the ACLU, who argued that TriMet's refusal to run an ad about a salmon-and-dam debate violated free speech rights. When Washington DC's transit agency refused to run the "savage" ads last month, the American Freedom Defense Initiative filed suit against them, on similar grounds to the free speech argument that won the Karuk's salmon a spot on TriMet.
In the Oregon case, the court determined that TriMet can't pick and choose what sort of ads to run—it has to take everything or nothing. If it takes nothing, TriMet would lose out on its $4.8 million annual ad contract.
However, I wonder whether these ads could lead to any of Portland's Palestinian-immigrant population to file a civil rights violation complaint against TriMet on the grounds that riding a bus adorned with a banner calling them a "savage" would subject them to discrimination. Just a thought.
The software that runs TriMet's TransitTracker app—allowing riders to get realtime information on when trains will actually arrive—will likely be down for two to three weeks thanks to some asshole who crashed their car into Transit Tracker's nerve center. Or, as TriMet says it:
A single-automobile crash at the Rose Quarter Transit Center on Thursday, Oct. 4 destroyed key communication equipment for the MAX system, disrupting TransitTracker. The equipment feeds train tracking information to the TransitTracker system. For MAX, a device in the rails sends information to the TransitTracker system when a train passes over it so the system generates a prediction on when the train should reach specific stops. Since the crash, TransitTracker for MAX trains systemwide can only show scheduled arrival times. The crash itself did not involve TriMet.
Until the connector is fixed, TriMet will only have scheduled times available, so if a train is running late, you'll never know. UPDATE: Just to clarify, Transit Tracker is broken for the MAX, but should still be working for buses. Also, I was joking about the "asshole" part. The person who crashed is most likely a very good person.
A 19-year-old is in jail today after allegedly stabbing a TriMet driver on the 33 bus line to Oregon City last night.
According to the Oregon City police, the suspect, Austin William Vanhagen, was talking on his cell phone on the bus at around 11pm and then began randomly shouting loud racial slurs. The bus driver, who was African American, pulled over the rig and the suspect got off the bus. The driver closed the bus door, but Vanhagen allegedly pried it back open again and stabbed the bus driver in the stomach. Three passengers rushed to his aid, two of whom also sustained stab wounds and one of whom was bitten before they were able to hold down the stabber.
This afternoon, retired driver Al Marguiles posted the audio of a breathless bus driver describing the attack over the TriMet scanner—listen to it to get an insight on how absolutely scary this incident was.
TriMet announced today that the driver, who requested to remain unnamed, underwent surgery this morning. His condition is unknown. Good luck to him and the passengers who rushed to help him.
This all makes our recent round-up of true tales of TriMet terror look like, um, a pretty good time in comparison.
5:50 - 6:50 SassparillaLearn more about the fest here.
6:05 - 7:05 MC Rose
6:20 - 7:20 The Ocean Floor
6:40 - 7:40 New Pioneers
7:00 - 8:00 Edna Vasquez
7:20 - 8:20 What Hearts
7:40 - 8:40 BÉisbol
7:50 - 8:50 Au Dunes
8:10 - 9:10 Vikesh Kapoor
8:30 - 9:30 Cloudy October
8:50 - 9:50 Josh & Mer
9:10 - 10:10 Charts
9:30 - 10:30 Classical Revolution PDX
With an afterparty 9 pm-midnight at Union/Pine (525 SE Pine):
9:00 Jeffrey Jerusalem
10:00 Sun Angle
11:00 Dana Buoy
People who drive pickup trucks—especially those huge 4X4s—ARE... THE... WORST. They are terrible people who exert their terribleness on everyone else... especially when they are driving. So if you have one of these trucks, please watch the following British PSA against road rage, starring a bunch of adorable cockney children in toy cars. (People who drive trucks would probably strangle these children. That's how terrible they are.)
Always uncensored TriMet bus driver Dan Christensen has a ridiculous story up on his blog about a night on a bus bound for Clackamas Town Center. It involves a drunk guy, some youths, and a "your mom" joke and is a good view into just a piece of the shit that TriMet drivers have to negotiate on a daily basis. The post starts off rather rambly, so scroll down to the "TriMet Disclosure" section.
Here's a snippet:
What follows is not Trimet policy but a story of how I solved one of these bouts of racial stupidity. It may not have been the Trimet way; it may not have been the smartest way; but it did work. I made my goal: everyone got where they were going without trouble.
“What are you looking at?”
That phrase is a warning sign that trouble is on the way. It’s like passing a road sign that says:
“What are you looking at?” Exit 2 miles
“Yelling Match” 5 miles
“Racial Slur” 7 Miles
“Fist Fight” 10 Miles
Over the years, you learn is that once people take that exit you have to work doubly hard to get back on to “Normal Highway.” So it’s best to never let things veer off that way.
h/t to Portland Afoot!
Here in Portland, people have a... well... complicated relationship with TriMet. However, maybe it would be less complicated if TriMet was more like the "Midtraffik" bus system in Denmark! According to this commercial, they are REALLY doing something right!
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