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OK, whos been thinking about our city motto problem?

by: ,

It's been a couple of weeks now since I asked you, the intelligent and spunky readers of this publication, to be thinking about better mottos for our communities.

I was hoping to make the case that the towns around here that have mottos just don't have ones that are good enough. But many of them simply don't have one, and that's just plain wrong.

To recap, I threw out this challenge after explaining that most of our local communities are agonizing over ways to make themselves little destinations - you know, places the folks in surrounding towns will come and spend their money and bask in the unusually likable atmosphere.

A good example of this is in Lake Oswego, where people come from miles around to see the sights and almost always end up asking, 'So, where's the famous lake, anyway?'

And, of course, they're reminded, by anyone in the know, 'Oh, you can't just waltz in here and actually see the lake. That's a privilege you have to pay for.'

See, that's a possible motto right there for Lake Oswego: 'We do, too, have a lake, and it's a really cool one.'

One cool thing about city mottos is they don't have to be true. Look at Portland. It calls itself 'The City That Works.'

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! That's a good one, huh?

Now, for some strange reason, most of the motto suggestions came from residents of West Linn, which is a little ironic, because it's one of the few smaller communities that has a motto. It is, to refresh your memory, 'West Linn: City of Hills, Trees and Rivers.'

It's also worth pointing out that all of these suggestions came from the comment box at the end of the column as it appeared on the Community Newspaper Web sites, and I think you get something of a special, twisted take on the world when people don't have to leave their names, like they might with a phone call or a letter to the editor.

These are the ones that came in on the West Linn Tidings Web site:

'For sale to the highest bidder'

'You can get anything you want at West Linn City Hall'

'Where ignorance really is bliss'

'A developer's dream'

'Impervious surface'

'West Linn: Where a bookkeeper can have all her dreams'

'At least we're not West Linn - oh, wait a minute, we are'

'Great big houses way too close to each other'

'Home of the nouveau-riche RINOs and trust-fund baby quasi-intellectuals!'

'West Linn: Tax Different. Home of Mayor Fee-Fee and the Fifi Four'

I don't get some of those either, especially that last one, but I'm not really up on my West Linn politics.

On the Lake Oswego Review Web site, meanwhile, the commenters had these recommendations:

'Lake Oswego: The town and mayor that view rules as stinkin' rules to be ignored'

'Lake Oswego: The unaffordable town, bad infrastructure, and poor-quality policy makers'

'Lake Oswego: Carmel by the Lake' (or soon to be Carmel by the Swamp, as the the lake does not have the water flow it used to).

Like the good citizens of West Linn, Lake Oswego residents seem to have some trust issues with their city leaders, and their emotions, I think, have kept them from coming up with mottos that really roll off the tongue.

In Tualatin, on the other hand, everybody agrees with what goes on at city hall, so they simply don't make such brutish observations about their local government. Only one comment came from a Tualatin person: ''A river runs through it' or 'Living in the heart of nature,' for all the wonderful parks and greenspaces, and how the city relates to the river.'

OK, maybe Tigard is a little feistier. 'Here is a good one, perfect for the liberals out there,' said this Tigard commenter: (1) 'Your money is our money, now fork it over; (2) We never saw a tax we did not like; (3) Do as we say, not as we liberals do.'

In Beaverton, the one comment received was also less than charitable.

'Here's some: 'Too much suburbia is never enough'; 'We ain't got charm'; 'We're not just for the white, affluent and tranquil anymore.''

And, finally, this comment came in to the Localnewsdaily Web site: 'While I do not claim this as mine, I think it is a perfect fit: 'The City That Works You Over.''

Personally, I lean toward the more in-your-face, definite-statement kind of motto that a community can use to build pride, rally support or, if necessary, declare war. You know, like 'Sherwood: You Want a Piece of Me?'

Or 'We Could Kick the Butt of any City Around Here.'

And I don't think you can ever overdo the 'window on the world' kind of motto: 'Tigard, doorway to everywhere.'

And, when all else fails, I'd suggest, 'Look on the Bright Side; You Could be in Newberg.'

Former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections and contributes a regular column.