Picnic in the Park

Last Saturday, May 6, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman was forced to stand while eating his fruit and cookies at a picnic in SE Portland's Bloomington Park. Grassroots community group ACORN had promised Saltzman a good time—but they forgot to mention the park barely has any picnic tables (or benches or lights). Around 50 locals sat on the grass eating chicken and spaghetti, while expressing their concerns that a lack of amenities in SE parks—along with poor lighting—is adding to petty crime and drug problems in the neighborhood.

Saltzman, the city's parks commissioner, pledged to look into improving Bloomington and Harney parks. His Public Relations Officer Matt Grumm says things should be better by the end of the year—with the money coming from "system development charges" collected from new residential development in the area. ACORN member Debbie Sundahl says she was pleased Saltzman took the group's concerns seriously, but in the meantime locals wanting to eat al fresco will just have to make do—much like Commissioner Saltzman did. MATT DAVIS

Critical Gas

Gas prices are skyrocketing. And more people, it seems, are turning to scooters and motorcycles to save on fuel, says Matt Mirpourian, a 23-year-old guy who's been riding vintage Vespas and motorcycles for years. With more two-wheeled vehicles on the road, Mirpourian and his cycling buddies worry there will be more accidents—he's already seen two friends get into horrific crashes in the past two months. One veteran scooterist, Kalaisha Watrous, was badly injured on March 22, when her Vespa collided with a car on 14th and E Burnside (the car reportedly ran a stop sign).

So the scooter and motorcycle community is getting organized—just as Portland's bicyclists have banded together to improve safety. On April 22, Mirpourian led 50 riders in a "Critical Gas" cruise through every corner of town (the name's an homage to bicyclists' regular Critical Mass ride). "We wanted to make a statement," he says. "This is our safety. We wanted to commemorate the crashes and gain awareness of [scooters and motorcycles]." Mirpourian hopes to organize another Critical Gas ride in June. And on Friday, May 12, there's a music show and raffle to benefit Watrous at Sabala's (see kalaisha.org for details). AMY JENNIGES