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Weight the votes

Medford should have more say because everyone drives here

Ashland, Talent and Jacksonville, which are about to join the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization that oversees transportation planning for the urbanized area of the valley, are concerned about how much clout their votes will have.

That concern is understandable, but misplaced.

The cities are joining the MPO because the population growth reflected in the 2000 Census expanded the boundaries of the county's urbanized area. Federal rules require MPOs for areas of 50,000 population or more.

The question of voting weight, among other issues, will be discussed in a meeting next month.

The voting issue is simple: Weighting votes by population would give Medford more say in planning decisions than the smaller cities. Not weighting votes would mean smaller communities could vote down projects that would benefit Medford.

We think the answer is obvious. Medford should have more say than smaller towns.

We're not arguing that Ashland, Talent, Jacksonville, or for that matter Phoenix or White City, don't need transportation projects to benefit their residents. Of course they do.

But transportation projects in Medford ' the economic hub of the county ' benefit everyone in the valley, not just residents of Talent or Jacksonville. Projects in the smaller communities, while they have some benefit to nonresidents, primarily benefit the people who live in those communities.

Many residents of Ashland, Talent and Jacksonville work in and around Medford, and all of them shop and do business here. And all of those daily commutes and weekly or semi-weekly shopping trips contribute to Medford traffic.

We don't resent that; in fact, we welcome it, because it supports Medford's economy. But it also creates the need for transportation projects to keep traffic moving efficiently for everyone.

The MPO should craft a voting procedure that protects the interests of the smaller towns and ensures that they get a share of beneficial projects. But that procedure also should recognize the central role Medford plays in the valley, and should not give small communities the ability to block projects that benefit everyone in Jackson County.

So long, John

Medford couldn't have asked for a better representative than John Dellenback. Dellenback, 84, died Saturday at Providence Medford Medical Center of viral pneumonia. In the wake of his death his friends and associates had a lot of good things to say about the former state representative, congressman and head of the Peace Corps.

Former Republican governor Vic Atiyeh, for instance, described his former Republican colleague, with whom he served in the state Legislature, as a strong advocate for the people and communities he represented.

Retired U.S. congressman and state representative Les AuCoin said that Dellenback was the only politician I ever knew who never personally asked for a campaign contribution from any one. He just felt it blurred too many ethical lines.

You couldn't ask for better endorsements than those.

Among other accomplishments, Dellenback was appointed director of the Peace Corps by President Gerald Ford in 1975, serving in the position for two years. From 1977 to 1988 Dellenback was president of the Christian College Coalition.

A Medford lawyer since 1951, Dellenback served on several other boards and commissions and was a charter member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he served on the original board of elders.

Nope. You couldn't ask for a better representative than John Dellenback, no matter your political persuasion. He truly will be missed.