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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 11

Assault on seniors

The Tidings article Wednesday about Tuesday's meeting was very distressing. The department's priorities were clearly stated by Mr. Black and they are simply inappropriate and misguided.

The senior program has been so successful for 43 years and so appreciated by those it serves precisely because it is not run like a business. All of a sudden, the Parks Department's financial woes are laid at the feet of this small segment of its operations. The attempt to make it pay for itself is really nothing more than an assault on our most vulnerable citizens.

The suggestion for new programs such as overnight trips is not a response to community wishes, but a way to balance the department's budget on the backs of our senior citizens. And who among the seniors served by the program has asked for it to become "multi-generational?" It's a program for seniors!

The unanimous condemnation the proposal met from those citizens and the subcommittee's vote to ignore their concerns makes it clear that the public meeting had no purpose except to let Parks and Recreation say they had "consulted" with the population their actions are going affect.

I find Black's insensitivity and narrow-minded concern for the bottom line above all else to be so out of keeping with the community values of the Ashland I know. If he really wants to serve the public, he should listen to those voices he heard Tuesday, and start again, with a priority on doing what's best for the citizens served, not pretend that gutting a successful program can masquerade as the best thing for his constituents. The citizenry sees through that. We're not that stupid. If he doesn't care to serve the public, he should find another job.

Avram Chetron


A social commitment

As a supporter of universal, single-payer health insurance, I appreciate John Ames’ letter of Aug. 8. I agree: Health care is not a human right. He calls it an “entitlement.” I prefer “social commitment.” Mislabeling health care as a “human right” distorts reality and impedes progress toward realizing an acceptable solution.

A human right cannot be limited, and does not involve payment for goods and services. The right to vote, trial by a jury of your peers, freedom of assembly — these are human rights. No price tag is attached. No negotiations are involved.

Therefore, free public education is not a human right. Nevertheless, we accept it as a fundamental social commitment at the primary and secondary level. (Not so for college — yet.)

So let’s dispense with this “health care is a human right” nonsense and get down to the nitty-gritty of establishing basic health care as common social commitment. That’s easy enough. Then comes the hard part.

Is the medical care system now in place — fee-for-service structure, bloated marketing costs and bias toward costly high-tech interventions — one we can afford? Or do we also need to re-think how we do health care, not just how we pay for it?

Bruce Borgerson


Rooftop or field solar?

A natural question that pops up when people consider paths to the city’s renewable energy ordinance (10x20) is “Why not simply invigorate rooftop solar across the city?” (See Letters, July 7).

City-wide rooftop solar was indeed among the first things considered for implementing the 10x20 ordinance. While getting even close to 10 percent of our power that way is not possible, the idea also suffers the major disadvantage of using up the option of rooftop! A large solar field can produce the 10 percent while preserving the personal option all over town for individual rooftop.

What is also really attractive about the solar field is that it enables every single person living in Ashland — regardless of roof orientation, owner or renter — participation in the transition to cleaner energy. This is genuine climate action.

Some people imagine that 50 acres of solar panels are unattractive. Well they aren’t. PV panels are completely non-reflective, and fairly rhythmic looking. Think vineyard. But zero noise. Zero chemicals. PV panels directly harvest solar rays, converting that energy in a single step into energy you can use. Just like wine. A good neighbor.

Tom Marvin


What's going on in Ashland?

As an elderly widow I’m blessed to have the means to get me through this increasingly dependent stage of life. I’m appalled by news of a plan to charge Food & Friends for facility usage and to deprive seniors of staff and socialization activities they rely on. What is Ashland turning into?

Our budget has doubled over the mayor’s eight years in office but doesn’t cover our needs. We can’t afford more police officers, can’t fund a study for our ever-worsening parking problem, and fought full payment to citizens for damages city negligence caused to their home. Why?

Our city administrator left last winter with a very healthy dollar settlement and praise for his work but no clear explanation as to why the mayor had wanted him to go and the council agreed. Why?

When a concerned citizen — with specifics given by city staff — suggested that a change to tax revenue allocation might resolve a particular funding problem, the mayor broke “public comment” protocol to argue. Why?

We can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on welcome signs that no longer welcome and grand art works that run counter to the directives in the Public Art Commission’s own Master Plan. Why?

Does anybody know?

Alice Finley