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Clark: In population contest, Tacoma uses dirty trick

I should have known better than to pick on Tacoma.

As my Old Man used to tell me …

“Son, never get into a whizzing match with a skunk.”

And when it comes to malodorous municipalities, well, they don’t make jokes about the “Tacoma Aroma” for nothing.

That rancid reputation is well-deserved, too.

I know. Tacoma city officials mailed me a bag of “pasteurized wastewater byproducts” the other day.

TAGRO, they call it.

Of course, I didn’t know TAGRO from an oboe when I received it.

The stuff is dark and all ground up. Silly me, I thought it was coffee.

Trust me. Java it ain’t.

On Monday I came to work and opened the clear zip-locked baggie that some fiend in Tacoma had stuffed with TAGRO.

I stuck my nose inside the baggie.

I took a deep whiff.

“Oh. My. Gawd,” I gasped.

“Tacoma sent me a bag of $*%!!”

Good thing I didn’t try to brew a scoop or two in the office percolator.

This was my own fault of, course. I had to pick on Tacoma, City of Desenex.

Or is that City of Destiny?

But I digress. This all began shortly after the state Office of Financial Management released its city population figures earlier this month.

The numbers show Spokane – with a population of 205,673 – is still Washington’s second biggest burg.

Seattle is still Top Dawg, of course. But being a serial troublemaker, I decided that our 2,273-person edge over third-place Tacoma was worth some gloating.

So I bought a sympathy card and wrote, “Dear Tacoma. Eat my Dust! Respectfully yours, Spokane.”

I mailed the card to the Tacoma City Council along with a box filled with Spokane-related memorabilia, such as:

Near Nature/Near Perfect lapel pins, a vintage Expo ’74 Viewmaster, a Spokane Regional Visitors Guide, a “” baseball cap, a copy of my self-deprecating Spokane Song and a bunch of other Lilac City-related trinkets.

Were my actions juvenile?

Of course.

Was this a sophomoric intent to rub our numerical superiority in the noses of Tacoma officials?


But let the record show that I never stooped so low as to rub anyone’s nose in a poo-trid biosolid.

You could close down a post office sending this TAGRO crap through the mail.

“Short for ‘Tacoma Grow,’ our award-winning, environmentally friendly products will give you better results with your lawn and garden …,” boasts the TAGRO information on the City of Tacoma website.

Good to know. Too bad I had to learn about the wonders of Tacoma fertilizer after NEARLY PASSING OUT FROM SMELLING THE STUFF!!

Congrats, Tacoma.

You got me good.

All the cutesy nonthreatening items in the box – which came from Tacoma’s Office of the Mayor/Council – lulled me into a false sense of sinus security.

There was a baseball cap sporting the logo of the Tacoma Rainiers, the West Side’s only decent baseball team.

There was a “Cultural Diversity” coffee cup, some booklets, a vintage Tacoma calendar, a Tacoma hanging ornament, some Tacoma pins and wrapped piece of Almond Roca, which I’m now too afraid to open. ( It could be something they dug out of a cat box, one of my co-workers suggested.)

“Spokane,” read the card I found tucked inside the package, “Congratulations on being #2! May birthrate and annexation continue to shine favorably upon your city.”

Up yours, Tacoma.

You can’t fool me any more. Thanks to TAGRO, I know you have a whole different connotation when you say we’re “Number Two.”

Doug Clark is a columnist with The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at