The Smoke Police win again, this time in "Portland's living room." A smoking ban in Pioneer Courthouse Square takes effect Jan. 1. And if you're thinking about lighting up in playgrounds, think again. The ban also covers play areas in the city's parks.

Recovering addicts got something they were jonesin' for last week, and it wasn't drugs or booze. No, City Council instead ponied up $495,000 so those on the wagon wouldn't get bounced from the Miracles Club, their beloved hangout on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Road-tripping parents need no longer stop just east of Seaside when their squirming kids want a look at—let's face it—just a damn big tree. The Sitka spruce, which road signs claim is the nation's tallest, will most likely come down after recent windstorm damage.


Scandal-plagued Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto can now add accidentally releasing a child molester to the list of his department's recent screw-ups. Jessy Moore last week was let out one day after being sentenced to four and a half years. Moore did his part to help Giusto by turning himself in on Friday.

Portland director Gus Van Sant had a "Mala Noche" last week after being charged with DUII by Portland police. The "Drugstore Cowboy" wasn't acting "Psycho," but police say he did have glassy eyes and slurred speech, as well as a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

Happy New Year to payday lenders from your friends at the state. New rules from Oregon's Department of Consumer and Business Services will force those lenders to make 90 percent of their loans for six months or longer and to evaluate borrowers' credit history. That effectively blocks a loophole many lenders sought to exploit.

Oregon football recruiters have some heavy explaining to do after the Ducks took such a pratfall last week in the already laughably low-level Vegas Bowl. Getting waxed 38-8 by BYU on national TV was bad enough, but the Ducks' 96th new uniform in the past five years is what made the team totally unwatchable.