Hardesty sets the record straight

I've grown accustomed to the Tidings' consistently negative spin about the Ashland City Council. However, last week's hatchet job alleging the "dysfunction" of Ashland city government hit a new low.

Although I don't usually respond to these kinds of attacks, I was compelled to this time because I feel that my reputation, at least for those who don't know me, has been damaged.

There isn't time or space here to list all the ways reality was distorted in Mike Green's Oct. 10 article (Ashland's 'dysfunctional' council), so I'll concentrate on one area.

Most offensive for me were the outright lies printed about an alleged "shadow government" in Ashland, supposedly involving myself and my late husband. I was stunned to read the claim that every Sunday, a mysterious group of development-hating citizens would meet and give directions to certain city councilors to go forward and "overwhelm" the city staff &

and for some reason Juli Di Chiro as well &

on Monday mornings. This cabal supposedly involved myself, my late husband Jack, Eric Navickas and Cate Hartzell.

This clearly is the product of someone's overheated imagination, and it would be funny if it weren't so offensive. After racking my brain to figure out how such a thing could get started, I concluded that the Tidings may have been referring to a short-lived book and conversation group that Jack and I started in 2005. The participants, who met only a few times, included no sitting councilors besides Jack. Cate Hartzell never came &

she was too busy. Eric Navickas, who was not yet on the council, came twice. The Tidings' favorite bogeymen, Art Bullock and Philip Lang, were not involved.

We shared photos of our vacations, discussed architecture and "New Urbanism," and talked about whether Ashland's downtown could be friendlier to pedestrians and have sidewalk caf&

233;s. No one issued orders to anyone else, and would have been laughed out of the room if they had tried. City staff was never mentioned. Tea was served and sometimes cookies.

The main thing we agreed upon was that it would be wonderful if the Ashland Grower's Market could somehow be moved downtown, but this never came to pass. The group dissolved well before my husband's death in May 2006.

I trust this information will set the record straight.

Alice Hardesty

Ashland City Councilor

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