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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 30

Behavior is the issue

The article on last week's council meeting gave a lot of space to the opinions of two "home-free" community members. That was followed by the opinions of a community member and of City Councilor Carol Voisin.

Although there was some acknowledgment that homelessness per se is not the issue, the article seemed to leave the reader with the sense that the behavior of downtown transients is a secondary issue.

I want to give voice to the opinion that behavior is the issue. Public space is a shared space for all residents (and visitors) of Ashland. There are certain rules of civility and common sense that most community members adhere to and respect. The homeless who loiter on sidewalks with all their possessions strewn about them are making the public streets their homes! They take more than their share of our shared space.

We have city ordinances about how businesses are allowed to display signage and the like on the street. Recently, the city almost required the Book Exchange to remove its modest storefront mural.

In previous years there were issues about the stuffed bear in front of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which centered around obstructing pedestrian traffic. Yet, we seem to be unwilling to do anything about people who impede pedestrian traffic, settle down in the streets, which are not designed to be homes, and deter tourists who are the lifeblood of Ashland.

It's not unreasonable for a community to care about its appearance and about public decorum. The homeless that are part of our community owe the community the same respect that the rest of us do.

Avram Chetron


Climate bill creates jobs

In February, the Oregon Legislature will consider the Healthy Climate Bill, a proposal that is good for the economy and job creation. Six Eastern states with similar regulations limiting greenhouse gases experienced economic growth of 8 percent since 2005, while utility climate pollution was reduced by 40 percent.

Two examples illustrate benefits:

In the six Eastern states, energy efficiency improvements in low-income houses were one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. With more money in their pockets because of reduced energy bills, low-income people spend it in their community on essential needs, such as groceries, allowing such businesses to flourish. Jobs were also created in installation of insulation, energy-efficient roofs and windows, and the sale and installation of energy-efficient refrigerators and furnaces.

In California, with a similar cap-and-trade program, a project is planned in Truckee to build a mixed-use housing/business area. This project will receive $8 million of money collected from auctioning pollution allowances and set aside for affordable housing, which has attracted $110 million in private investment money. Besides the temporary construction jobs, the plan projects 113 permanent jobs.

Tell your legislators to support this bill.(www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html) For more information, visit http://socan.info/healthy-cimate-bill

Mary Ehlers


Raise the wage

I am the co-owner of BrainJoy Neuro Wellness Center. We have been in business in the Rogue Valley for nearly five years.

I have been following the minimum wage debate very closely, especially in Medford, and I felt that I finally had to weigh in. Reporters always interview people from the business community who argue that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs and force small businesses to close.

This just isn’t true. If we want our communities to thrive, we need jobs that pay at least enough to afford the basics — after all, small businesses count on people with can afford to be their customers and clients. Recent data released about Jackson County shows that many families in our community are struggling to pay their rent or afford child care because wages are low but the cost of living continues to rise.

When people can’t afford to support themselves, they also can’t afford to shop at their small local businesses. Higher wages will lift our local economy. If we want to have paying customers and a bustling economy, businesses in Southern Oregon should be concerned about what happens if we don’t take action to raise the wage.

Mark Kellenbeck