Letters, May 13
Emotions vs. reason
The pandemic is causing deep suffering and uncertainty, the City Council has lost the trust of hard-working citizens by ignoring their recommendations and failing to bring the city budget under control, and these strong emotions are leading many of us to vote against the City Hall bond. This is not the time to be emotional.
The City Hall bond is the fruit of decades of careful multi-faceted studies, committee hearings and consultations with the public and professionals. Legal, historical, strategic and economic imperatives point to a yes vote. Study the reasoning behind the bond, and don’t let feelings lead your decision-making.
Yes on bond measure
I have voted yes on city bond 15-193!
These are not frivolous renovations. They represent 25 years of neglect by our city. Every year building costs increase. If your concern is additional taxes, that will not occur this year thanks to the end of the library and fire station bonds. A yes vote will not increase your property taxes. It will not cause an increase to your monthly rent.
How can we put our city employees at risk because they work in a building that requires restoration for safety? What if your loved one or neighbor or friend works in that building? Are we saying that their safety and peace of mind matters less? Would we have the same response if our library was in harm’s way, or one of our schools? The shuttered Pioneer Hall and Community Center also belong to all of us and their closure has had negative impacts on many levels.
I believe it is our civic duty to maintain relevant public buildings. Now is not the time to punish the poor choices of leaders in the last two decades. Now is the time to say yes to capital improvements long overdue. If not now, it will only get more expensive later.
Make City Hall safe now
Councilor Tonya Graham makes very strong points in her May 8 Tidings letter. We’d like to stress some of them. First, few of the arguments in opposition to fixing City Hall mention the earthquake risk, or else they minimize it by citing small chances of occurrence. We don’t know when the Cascadian subduction quake is going to happen. But it will happen. And it will be devastating, potentially taking many more lives in Ashland than COVID-19.
We agree that creating more jobs at this time would be a real benefit to our town’s economy. Doing the construction, while Ashland has fewer visitors — and more staff are working from home — will create much less disruption. This new bond will come at the time we’ll no longer be paying the bonds for the library and Fire Station 1, so no one will have to pay more than they do now. What better time to make our City Hall a safe place to work and to visit?
We do not want city staff working in such a precarious structure! We urge a yes vote on Measure 15-193.
Marilyn and John Love
Vote for strong democracy
This month we have the opportunity to vote for strong democracy at both the federal and the local level.
Because the state of Oregon has listed multiple Democratic presidential candidates on the ballot sent to registered Democrats, we have a chance to vote for the candidate whose policies we most agree with, regardless of whether we think he or she can beat Trump in November. It’s a strongly democratic way to send a message to party headquarters.
While I don’t pretend to know who can best triumph over Trump during these chaotic, transitional times, I do know that the kind of universal health care Bernie Sanders stands for is a winner. if it were in place right now, it would be preventing economic hardship and saving lives far more effectively than the complicated, mostly for-profit and mostly employment-based system with which we’re currently saddled.
On the local front, I can’t wait to vote yes on the bond measure to strengthen physically our democracy in the form of the historic City Hall and two of Ashland’s most well-used, city-owned gathering places. Not only do I think this makes fiscal sense given current low interest rates, but I also regard this triple restoration as an ethical imperative — a public-safety issue of the highest order, given the many warnings issued about a possible massive earthquake in our region.
As for the local measure calling for a change in our charter regarding mode of governance, I’m happy to help save the strong democracy we already enjoy by voting no. I and most Ashlanders I know think long and hard about who we vote into office. I want the mayor we choose to be more than an adviser and a figurehead who gives occasional motivational speeches.
Support the facilities bond
We strongly support the Ashland bond measure to rehabilitate three buildings, each of which helps to put a face on the character of our city.
If the bond measure loses we will (1) continue to risk a much bigger problem should something happen with City Hall (as we know from the past few months, the unexpected does happen), and (2) we are almost certain to keep looking at closed-down city buildings opposite Lithia Park. So many jobs and businesses are dependent on how visitors “experience” Ashland. We feel it is a mistake to put off tackling known problems that will only continue to be an eyesore.
Yes, we are tackling a major economic challenge in COVID-19. However, the economic hit from passing the bond is relatively minor to nil for each of us. Let’s keep our city in a condition that has far more to do with long-term economic health than this transitory virus. Please vote yes!
Alan Steed and Jo Wayles
Vote for charter change
I’m asking Ashland voters to support Measure 15-189, to create a city manager position in Ashland that reports to the entire City Council. Right now we have a poorly defined city administrator position, and the mayor can choose to fire the administrator or city department heads at his/her pleasure. If this measure is approved then it will be up to the City Council to hire/fire the city manager and the city manager to hire/fire department heads.
We should hire a city manager to manage city departments in a transparent, cost-effective and efficient way. A mayor is elected to be the political leader, not the administrative leader, of city government. While we can hire a city manager with a resume of previous positions and proven ability to manage, that isn’t true with a mayor, who can be elected despite having no administrative or personnel experience.
Vote yes on Measure 15-189!
Supporting City Hall bond
I was working in my home office in Ashland last week when my desk started to shake. It only lasted several seconds, but some items on my desk scooted out of their original positions. I called to my wife that we’d just had an earthquake. According to Earthquake Track, Ashland has had seven earthquakes in the past 30 days.
Our recent earthquakes bring into focus the need to make improvements to the Ashland City Hall, Pioneer Hall and the Ashland Community Center. The majority of this funding, $7.2 million, will be dedicated to the City Hall to make it more earthquake resilient and bring it up to code.
The $8.2 million bond is a very reasonable amount to ensure these three community facilities are brought up to code and remain usable for numerous clubs, civic organizations and private gatherings well into the future.
Please vote yes on Ballot Measure 15-193.
It’s very hard for this citizen to understand why anyone would support the proposed seismic renovation of a 100-year-old building at no additional cost to taxpayers when we all know that there are never, ever any earthquakes in this area.
Obviously, the better course would be to postpone the project so we can spend more money later and incur a tax increase.
Yes on City Hall
Before COVID-19, I supported Measure 15-193; we are responsible for repairing and improving key infrastructure and new bonds would replace expiring ones. Then along comes COVID-19! Businesses, festivals and schools are reeling.
I’ve thought long and hard about Measure 15-193. Did it get sabotaged by COVID-19 too? Pandemic-enforced time at home has many of us attending to neglected projects and yard work. The timing is right for these tasks, and the timing is right for taking care of our city property. As we grapple with COVID-19 changes, let us take the opportunity to repair infrastructure and protect ourselves from a likely seismic event.
When we come back strong as a community, and yes we will our homework will be completed and we can stand with confidence in our presence downtown. Let’s make City Hall, Pioneer Hall and the Community Center’s improvements part of the “new normal”.