Here's a snippet of an email we received the other day from Mary Ann Pastene,
Co-Chair of the Northwest District Association Safety and Livability Committee. She wanted to inform us that a couple of our newspaper boxes in her neck of the woods (NW 23rd Ave) had some graffiti on them.

The Northwest District Association is monitoring the condition of publication boxes located in the public right of way within the district’s boundaries. Your boxes currently in need of cleaning and/or repair are located at:
SW Corner Lovejoy and 22nd
Between 1305 and 1301 on SW 23rd
We request that you clean and repair these boxes. Graffiti is illegal (Portland City Code Chapter 14B.80), and degrading. Maintaining the proper box condition to insure they remain graffiti and damage-free is important to our neighborhood and to the success of your publication.
Thank you for your compliance with this important issue. With your cooperation, we can keep Portland a clean and livable city.

So first of all, we don't mind getting notices like these at all. Our circ manager Jay is one fastidious motherfucker, and thrives on keeping our newspaper boxes as tidy as possible. (That being said, we think Mary Ann's info is old—that box on 22nd and Lovejoy SW 23rd was overhauled in February, and remains clean as a whistle.) Anyway, it's nice when someone lets us know when some tweaky squirrel with a paint can has tagged them.

On the other hand, graffiti is "degrading"? And according to this story Mary Ann wrote for the Northwest District Association, it's also "humiliating"? Those aren't quite the words I'd use. Most of the graffiti tagging I've seen is of pretty crappy quality, without much artistic merit—but I'm certainly not "humiliated" or "degraded" by it (however, I am degraded by my behavior at Fantasy Unlimited last Friday night). And what about the graffiti that does have some artistic merit? Though few and far between, it is out there, and occasionally even lands on our boxes—and there's no way we're gonna scrub those off. BUT... what do I know, right? Since the denizens of Blogtown are my only true moral compass, LET'S GO TO THE POLLS!