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Letters, Nov. 9

Wildfire statement tone-deaf

Regarding the article “Ashland wildfire safety recommendations constrained by tight budget”: With all due respect, to say that it is a huge ask to dedicate 1% of the city’s budget but may be worth the investment was a very tone-deaf statement to make at this point in time.

Insurance News Net estimated that it would cost $140 million for cleanup, roughly $70,000 per house destroyed. This number does not factor in the cost of actually rebuilding the destroyed buildings.

That number also does not factor in the damage done to the futures of the children affected. Phoenix-Talent School District estimated that 50% of their students have lost their home. The $140 million does not factor in the lives lost to the Almeda fire. On behalf of the city of Ashland, I beg that the city is willing to spend the funds necessary to offer relief for individuals who through no fault of their own had their lives sent on a spiral.

Isaiah Flores, OSPIRG hunger and houselessness intern


YMCA response falls short

As a loyal member of the Ashland YMCA, I am sad to hear that a racial discrimination suit has been filed against the Y by African American Tony Akpan, who had worked at the Y five years, his last position being sports director. After Tony submitted an internal complaint about receiving discriminatory comments, he received various forms of negative feedback from his superiors, including a financial offer from the Y of several thousand dollars if he would just keep quiet.

Instead of ignoring incidents of racial discrimination, Ashland’s YMCA could work to reduce racism. For example, the Ashland Community Food Coop recently made a statement affirming the Black Lives Matter movement.

Following George Floyd’s murder earlier this year in Minneapolis, Kevin Washington, CEO of YMCA of USA states, “I know the Y has the credibility and capacity to lead ... We should stand up and speak out for equity and justice. This is a pressing community need, and the Y always has responded to pressing community needs. We all are grappling with the big, bold actions required to turn the tide in our country, and that’s important ... This is a time of great anguish and despair in our country, particularly for people of color and the most vulnerable among us.”

Instead of addressing racism at the Y, Ashland YMCA’s CEO Dan Crocker responded by saying Tony Akpan’s statements are “categorically false.” The Ashland Y’s response to Tony’s calls for help demonstrates an urgent need for Ashland Y members, YMCA board members and any other people supporting Black lives to respond with courage and commitment.

Deb Van Poolen


Exotic animal ban fell short

Over 3,800 registered voters from all parts of Jackson County signed a voter initiative this year to ban the use of elephants and other wild and exotic animals for commercial displays, like circuses, in Jackson County.

To make it onto the May 2021 ballot in Jackson County, the Committee to Protect Wild and Exotic Animals needed 6,114 certified signatures, but the COVID-19 pandemic limited any meaningful signature gathering from March to the deadline of Nov. 5, 2020, due to banning large gatherings and discouraging door-to-door canvassing.

Public sentiment about the use of elephants and other exotic animals for performance and for-profit display has evolved drastically. Benton and Multnomah counties have similar bans in place. Clatsop County has a ban on the bull-hook, the tool used to punish and discipline elephants.

Local support for the proposed ordinance was strong as evidenced by the large number of signatures obtained despite the pandemic restrictions. Unpaid volunteers worked tirelessly collecting signatures and remain encouraged at the local response for such a county ordinance.

The committee would like to thank all the more than 3,800 registered Jackson County voters who supported the effort.

Visit our Facebook Page: Committee to Protect Wild and Exotic Animals.

Alissa Weaver, chief petitioner


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