No second fiddle
Talent has its own charm, and it should nurture that, not ape Ashland
The headline asked the question, Is Talent mirroring Ashland? A couple of decades ago the question would have produced some belly-laughs at City Hall. The town wasn't growing by leaps and bounds. Ashland was the growth spot on the south end of the valley.
That was true until the late 1980s when real estate prices forced potential Ashland residents ' and even existing residents ' to look elsewhere. Many of them looked toward Talent.
Now, nobody is laughing at City Hall. Council members Wendy Siporen, Darby Stricker, Don Steyskal and Bob Wilson are former Ashland residents, as is Mayor Marian Telerski.
In the year 2000, Ashland had 19,523 residents. Talent had 5,589, about three times what it had a couple of decades earlier.
Some, or possibly even many, of those new residents might have ended up in Ashland if housing prices were more reasonable. But that doesn't mean Talent has to play second fiddle to its bigger neighbor. Talent has its own charms ' a small-town atmosphere where the people you meet on the street are more apt to be city residents than tourists.
— Yet the town has taken on a bit of an Ashland ambiance. Talent's only market now carries some organic foods. More artists have moved into town. Several restaurants offer atmospheres that remind diners of Ashland eateries.
Those little steps are good and will help diversify the community. But Talent needs to be its own city, to capitalize on its own strengths. It should work to keep the small-town feel downtown and to continue improvements that make the center of town desirable. It should work to improve the view along Highway 99, which is dominated by a somewhat ramshackle collection of businesses.
The city should prepare for the growth that will come unabated as Ashland's real estate prices continue their upward spiral. City officials must decide now what they want their city to be and not let the growth decide it for them.
If Talent can take in some of the vitality and citizen involvement that Ashland is famous for, so much the better. But the city must and will chart its own course, one that will be very different than that of Ashland.
Here we go
It's a bit early in the game to be getting worked up over a proposal to use Oregon's kicker tax refund to build up a rainy day reserve. But we can see what's coming and it makes no sense.
A Senate committee expects to pass out a bill this week to set aside the kicker funds until a reserve is built up that equals 10 percent of the state's general fund. The kicker is money refunded to taxpayers when actual revenue exceeds estimates by more than 2 percent.
The Senate may pass the bill. But then it heads to the House, which is dominated by Republican anti-tax conservatives. They may say the state needs a reserve, but they seem to think the reserve can be created without tapping any revenue source. It just won't happen, and we've already seen the devastating effects suffered by Oregon because of the lack of a savings account.
Any good manager sets aside a bit during good times to help get through the bad times. It seems that given the events of the past year, even the anti-tax politicians in Salem would recognize that now.