'Exclusion': Slattery will get you nowhere

In recent exclusion zone articles we learn that Dennis Slattery and other Ashland city councilors favor putting repeat downtown Ashland offenders in the Jackson County Jail for a variety of offenses. Ashland police estimate that about a dozen people per year could be affected by this proposed three-strikes-and-you're-out downtown exclusion zone.

The first problem is that Ashland Police Chief Holderness is skeptical. "Our goal is to not have to deal with anyone being affected by an exclusion zone because they've stopped committing violations," Holderness said. "That would be our hope. Whether that happens or not, we'll have to see."

There's good reason to be skeptical. For one thing, much of the inappropriate conduct complained of doesn't constitute a crime. From materials given to Ashland City Councilors by Ashland city government before their exclusion zone study session:

"Over the last two years city staff has seen an increase in complaints from residents, visitors and business owners regarding the behavior of individuals that are engaging in unlawful or annoying conduct in the downtown. These complaints include aggressive panhandling, making lewd and lascivious comments to people on the street, blocking sidewalks, being unnecessarily loud, trespassing, using and being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol in public places, urinating in public, littering and leaving trash, and various other forms of disorderly conduct. The Police Department has been aggressive in writing citations for violations of laws, but many of the activities that generate complaints do not rise to the level of being a violation of an existing law."

The worst problem is that the roughly dozen repeat offenders the proposed exclusion zone ordinance is designed to discourage simply won't change their behavior, no matter how many times they are put in jail. From these same materials: "Many of those cited or arrested multiple times appear to have little concern about the consequences of the violations and have not paid anything toward the fines imposed by the Municipal Court judge as penalties for their violations. Even when the behavior constitutes a misdemeanor under the Oregon statutes, space limitations in the Jackson County Jail preclude holding violators of minor crimes for very long, if at all. Many violators are aware of that fact. Further, many of these repeat violators avoid sentencing altogether by failing to appear in court to respond to the allegations against them. For them, too, the threat of jail time for failing to appear in court as ordered is an unrealistic sanction."

Thus we see that the Ashland City Council majority, led by Dennis Slattery and his slogan of "effective community," is in favor of enacting an ordinance that won't work. Worse, it infringes on civil liberties, it invites litigation against Ashland, and hence it will cause another meaningless waste of our tax dollars. No. The path of Dennis Slattery does not lead to effective community. Slattery's path leads to tyranny, futility and fiscal irresponsibility.

Share This Story