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Letters, May 25

Lohman is not the problem

I have known Dave Lohman for many years, since long before he was the city attorney.

One would have to search far and wide to find a more ethical, upstanding, compassionate and intelligent person. I can guarantee Dave Lohman is not the problem in city leadership right now.

Michael Hoyt

Ashland

Ashland employers stuck in the past

It’s time to talk about the current credibility gap between Ashland employers and the rest of the planet.

Because of factors including a roaring stock market and massive growth in real estate values in desirable communities all over the country, Ashland has become an even more expensive place in which to live and work, especially for those who rely on hourly income from their labor. Housing prices have skyrocketed.

But the Ashland business community, while lamenting the lack of employees who are available to do all their dirty work, refuse to budge on hourly pay, which remains mired in some cost-of-living fantasy that lives closer to 2010 than to what things cost in 2021. Myriad factors are putting the squeeze on working people, and nothing is really being done to allow them to remain in the community (a community that is becoming older, richer, and whiter by the day).

Fifteen dollars an hour for a management position is not a feasible wage, especially not from large employers around town. I worked for a local hotel group for three days for a hilariously small amount of money. When I realized that the job would require an amount of work better suited to a salary of about $50,000 a year, I quit. I can only imagine how hard these jobs must be on people who can’t leave.

Here’s the simple math. If you own a company in a town that is becoming increasingly richer, you bump up your prices by a little and pass that on to your employees so that they can feel as though they are somewhat less disposable. A retiring Boomer millionaire or a tech entrepreneur who has fled the Bay Area due to COVID is not going to get sticker shock when they’re asked to pay an extra $5 for a porterhouse or an extra $20 for a premium seat at the theater. It is disingenuous for employers to offer unlivable wages and then panic about not being able to find decent staff. When your treatment of others is indecent, you cannot expect decency in return.

I have, for years, written with increasing urgency about the dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots in this supposedly liberal town, and now the fruits of our indifference are bearing out. It’s long past time for Ashland employers to drag themselves kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It’s long past time for those who have the resources — and there are an increasing many who do — to underwrite the rising costs in this city so that the people who provide their patrons with some color at your local bistro, bank, boutique and bar do not disappear for greener and more affordable pastures.

Jeffrey Gillespie

Ashland