I'm running for Metro president, but there seems to be a general ignorance as to what Metro is. Before campaign season kicks off, can you explain to folks what it does? This way I can talk more about who I am, instead of what Metro even is and why it exists.

—Some Guy

I'm aware, Guy, that you signed your full name to this letter, but since we're just raising awareness—and not, say, trying to gain free publicity for a particular candidate—I'm sure you won't mind if I omit it.

I'd say your problem is not that people don't understand Metro. It's that people—some of them, anyway—don't want to understand Metro.

They don't want to understand the White House or the mayor's office either, but those seep in by osmosis. Even the bleariest stoner knows that the president is some vague amalgam of Morgan Freeman and Harrison Ford who deals with alien invasions, and that the mayor is the guy who's breathing down the lieutenant's neck because McBain just doesn't know when to quit.

But Metro? When was the last time the Joker kidnapped Metro Council President Tom Hughes in order to put a stop—forever!—to infill development in Hillsboro? (It's kind of a shame this didn't happen, because District 2 Councilor Carlotta Collette has a great name to be one of Batman's girlfriends.)

What Metro does is fairly subtle, and everyone who wants to know what it is already does. What you need is a version that's easy to understand—even if it's slightly wrong—for people who barely care.

Here it is: Metro is like a Northwest Oregon European Union. (Portland is Germany!) Each city maintains its sovereignty, but they wanted to have an overarching regulatory body to set solid-waste policy and/or levy barley tariffs. You're welcome.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com