Friendship Force thanks speakers
Since "it's never too late to say 'thank you,'" I wish to express the gratitude of the Friendship Force of Southern Oregon to the students and speakers who made our sixth annual meeting so special: American Culinary Federation of Southern Oregon with chefs from Rogue Valley Manor, South Medford High School, Rogue Valley Medical Center, Jacksonville's Bella Union, Anna Maria Creekside, Horton Plaza, Red Lion Hotel, Ashland Bakery & Cafe, Phoenix Annie's Cafe, Rogue Community College and North Medford High School; speakers Mark Kellenbeck and Nancy Hitchcock from Sister Cities Programs of Grants Pass (Rubtsovsk, Russia) and Meredith Reynolds of Ashland (Guanajuato, Mexico).
Further, our family is grateful for the support of many Rogue Valley friends following the recent demise of their father and my husband, Ken.
Deduction for seniors cut by 30
There are two aspects of the Measure 30 issue that could use more daylight than they are getting. First, there has been surprisingly little discussion of the cutback in the medical expense deduction for seniors. By my calculation, if Measure 30 passes, a typical senior couple who itemizes deductions and has a federal gross income of $30,000, excluding Social Security, will see a state tax increase of about $120. This in addition to the surtax. By this measure, our legislators have loaded an inordinately heavy part of the load on seniors compared to the $3 per month increase widely publicized for the average taxpayer. Seniors generally have no place to turn to increase their income, and inflation and particularly growing medical costs threaten many of those near the margin. The Legislature could have more fairly achieved the same financial outcome via a slight increase in the surtax.
Secondly, the whole Measure 30 promotion has been largely characterized as a "temporary" three-year tax increase, when in reality about 30 percent of the increased revenue comes from six permanent tax increases. Present, as well as future, seniors should be aware that these permanent increases include the cutback in the medical expense deduction. This additional tax on seniors will go on forever even if the economy improves, the legislature gets off the cloud it's been on, and the surtax is allowed to expire. I'm not holding my breath on any of these.
Head Start got a windfall for kids
As we settle back into our routines, the generosity of the community to Ashland Head Start continues to be appreciated by our students. The 39 children and their families were recipients of five hand-knit hats, vests and mittens. Families applied for assistance from the Butler Fund, and received five toys from members of Trinity Episcopal Church. The folks at Key Bank went the extra effort to set up a tree and gathered mittens - which make outside time on these cold days more enjoyable for the 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children in our program. Our circle of friends includes the staff at Laidlaw Bus Company, Science Works, and Goodwill.
Our ability to provide an enriched preschool experience is made possible from the efforts of many. On behalf of the families and staff at Ashland Head Start I thank you for being generous this past holiday season.
With 30, overall taxes decrease
Once again we have a chance to stand and vote yes for our Oregon.
Measure 30 is a balanced budget plan that supports education by keeping our schools open a full year; helps seniors and disabled stay independent in their own homes and to get needed medications and health care; and keeps our communities safe by funding public safety programs.
Measure 30 is progressive. Those who earn less will pay less with the poorest Oregonians paying nothing. With the federal tax cut the overall change will be a decrease of taxes paid!
It doesn't make sense to close our schools, take away health care from our poorest and neediest, force seniors from assisted care and release inmates from prison to save a few dollars when our taxes are going down anyway!
Vote yes for a balanced budget and a stable Oregon!
Vote yes for Measure 30.
Attitude toward trees is tenuous
I felt compelled to respond to a comment voiced by developer Lloyd Haines (Jan. 15), not because he's alone in such a sentiment, but because it's an attitude that seems to be becoming something of a trend in Ashland. He proposes to remove (kill) a healthy alder tree and replace it with a sculpture and benches from that tree - a sort of posthumous tribute.
All too often business interests win out over ecology, and if that's the way Ashlanders want it, they wouldn't be the first society to shoot themselves in the foot. But let's at least be honest. Nature knows the difference between a tree and a hunk of sculpture, no matter how masterfully rendered. A sculpture cannot transpire to put moisture into the air. A bench cannot convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. It's not very likely that birds or squirrels will be invited to live in either.
So if Ashland is destined to become a city of posthumous plaques where there used to be trees, so be it. But let's stop pretending we're on high moral ground when we take down something living and replace it with something dead.