Letters, March 5
Our representative democracy has very uneven representation.
Correcting numbers from M. Isaak’s letter of Jan. 30: If Oregon used an “electoral college of counties” (one vote per county) to determine its vote in the national Electoral College, the winner would be Trump 26 / 36 = 72%. However, the 10 counties for Biden included 70% of Oregon’s population. Biden got 56.9% of Oregon’s popular vote.
The ratio largest/smallest for Oregon county populations is about 610 (Multnomah/Wheeler). The same ratio for state populations is “only” about 68 (California/Wyoming). Senators from 21 small states, with a combined population just over 1/10 of the US population, can use a filibuster to block legislation. In the Electoral College, the ratio for state representation is 55 / 3 = 18.3 (CA/WY). Then each person’s vote for president in Wyoming carries as much weight as 68 / 18.3 = 3.7 votes in California.
The site engaging-data.com provides an interactive nationwide map of counties for the 2020 presidential election. In terms of county areas, the picture is more red than blue. Switching to county populations shows that blue votes are concentrated in regions of higher population density. A separate chart shows the correlation of blue percentage with population density.
Stay the course
We learned at the Jackson County commissioners’ hearing on COVID-19 restrictions that home rule charter cannot override state restrictions. That guidance can’t fall on deaf ears, as has the clear and fundamental evidence that we need to wear masks.
Yes, restrictions have burdened many businesses and, according to one second-hand testimony at the hearing, the 25% allowance for restaurant capacity is a slap in the face of restaurant owners. That slap, however, will be nothing compared to what happens if we do not defeat the virus.
Had our leaders taken COVID-19 seriously a year ago, instead of listening to ideological conspiracy theories, there would have been no need for the hearing last week. Buying into the misinformation and rationalization that COVID-19 only kills the elderly and those with other health problems and intentionally ignoring debilitating long-haul effects will only prolong negative consequences.
Instead, how about Jackson County commissioners renewing their commitment to defeating COVID-19? Vaccines are working. The vaccinated are fast increasing. A third vaccine is here. As per one voice at the hearing, it would be criminal to give up when we are this close. We need to stay the course.
Support Lincoln Park
Ashland community: I’m concerned about the future of Lincoln Park.
My daughters learned to play basketball, ride bikes, and skateboard on the basketball court. They play with friends on the playground while we visit with other parents. We fly kites, play fetch with our dogs, and enjoy the fireworks in the open field. I’m grateful for this open space close to home, especially during the pandemic when we are more socially isolated.
From my professional perspective as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife biologist and based on my experience working with youth in the outdoors for 30 years, sharing nature with children is one of the best ways to inspire the next generation of conservation leaders and foster connection with the land.
Regular contact with nature improves cognitive functioning, psychological and physical well-being, social interactions, and academic performance. Maintaining Lincoln Park as open space for families benefits the health and well-being of Ashland’s residents.
Please encourage the Ashland School District and Ashland Parks Commission to make Lincoln Park an official city park by writing a letter to the Ashland School Board, signing our petition (see “Friends of Lincoln Park” Facebook page) and becoming a supporter.