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Letters, May 5

No on 15-193

Have you been downtown lately? It is deserted, a ghost town. No Shakespeare, no tourists, no students, no locals, closed stores, closed restaurants. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Mayor and City Council are asking us to spend $7 million-plus to upgrade City Hall. This is an unreasonable sum when we face an existential threat to the lifeblood of our city: the Shakespeare Festival and its dependent industries.

Where’s their sense of perspective? At the most precarious and uncertain period in our city’s existence, do we want to use our limited resources on an extravagant upgrade?

The people of Ashland need our city’s help — dishwashers, waiters, cooks, retail and child care workers, housekeepers, hairdressers, masseuses, the unemployed and small-business owners. These are the “hero” workers of our tourist-dependent city.

In the 1980s, Ashland’s mayor Gordon Medaris appeared on the Today Show and said, “Without the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland would be a wide spot in the road.” That statement rings true today, except, now, Ashland would be a wide spot in the road with a shiny City Hall. Is that what we want our legacy to be, Ashlanders?

Rigidly moving forward with this project in the face of an unprecedented crisis shows a lack of reason and common sense. These times call for creativity, flexibility, generosity and rethinking how we use our resources. Let’s make that our legacy.

Vote no on 15-193.

Howard Schreiber and Michele Warrence-Schreiber

Ashland

Vote no on charter change

Ashland’s city charter has served us well for over 100 years and to change it without a community study or public hearings seems irresponsible to me.

I’m urging voters to reject the charter change because giving the powers of setting policy to an appointed manager (who is not accountable to the voters) is not in our best interests. Our form of city government is hardly unusual, as Eugene, Portland, and Jacksonville also have strong mayor/council city management structures. Before changing our charter, let’s step back, have an ad hoc committee study, and a public hearing.

Karen Smith

Ashland

Vote no on City Hall bond

I am writing to weigh in against Measure 15-193, the proposed $8.2 million bond measure for renovating City Hall, Pioneer Hall, and the Community Center. In this unprecedented time, with residents and businesses suffering and the long-term ramifications for our city as yet uncertain, now is not the time for us to assume a financial burden of this magnitude.

We entrust our elected officials to plan thoughtfully and steward the city’s resources in a manner that makes sense for citizens considering all the circumstances. Most Ashland residents care about the safety of city employees and appreciate the value each of these structures offers our community.

Renovations make sense; there is just not satisfactory evidence that the City Council has identified the most cost-effective means to do it. The citizens of Ashland deserve more than a request for funds without a detailed and defined plan, especially when many are unemployed and dealing with economic uncertainty.

I have always supported bond measures in the past. However, now is not the time for a project with such a large price tag.

Amy Ahrendt

Ashland

Thanking our teachers

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8. The Ashland School District Board of Directors expresses our heartfelt appreciation to our dedicated and compassionate teaching staff!

Each year, our teachers go above and beyond to reach each student by meeting them where they are in all aspects of their lives and challenging them to put forth their best efforts in reaching their academic and personal potential. This spring, amidst the rapid and unprecedented shift to distance learning due to COVID-19, our teachers have dug extraordinarily deep to engage their creativity, collaborative spirit, ethos of hard work and dedication and, above all, their genuine and abiding care for their students, to deliver distance-based learning to match the diverse needs of our students in this challenging time.

Lastly, we cannot miss this opportunity to acknowledge the rest of our dedicated ASD employees who are (among other things): maintaining all facilities and district operations, serving over 750 meals a day to students throughout the district (yay food service and transportation staff!), continuing our work on the Student Success Act and bond projects, brainstorming graduation and many other important student needs in a virtual world, supporting a huge array of technology needs, and mindfully continuing the hard work of the district.

Thank you to all of our dedicated and deeply caring ASD employees. Be well and we hope to see you all soon!

Victor Chang, on behalf of the Ashland School Board: Jim Westrick, Sabrina Prud’homme, Eva Skuratowicz, Victor Chang and Tomas Monter-Rangel

No on Measure 15-193

I have been an Ashland homeowner for the past 11 years. For the most part I’ve been fine with paying our high property taxes.

My daughter has attended Ashland schools all her life and I’ve been happy to think that I am contributing to her education through my homeownership. However, this most recent attempt at a money grab by the City Council simply goes too far. Our elected officials continuously ignore Ashland citizens’ pleas for fiscal responsibility, and this new request for 8.2 million that will fall on the backs of residents feels like a slap in the face.

Please join me in voting no on bond 15-193.

Jennifer Moreno

Ashland

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