Advancement comes in the stall of progress

R.J. Bullock's high-profile legal and political challenges in Ashland coupled with his mysterious past make him a source of fascination, frustration and curiosity, not to mention a target for those who oppose him. But his community activism, including numerous legal challenges on issues that can hardly be considered high profile, suggest a method to his madness that is at the end of the day, fairly basic.

Obfuscation by any means necessary.

Whether it be through unending legal challenges, crafting political campaigns or simply blocking the influence of those with whom he disagrees, Bullock's version of success does not come through positive results. His success comes from stymieing results sought by the city, or simple stagnation. Progress, which appears to be similar to the idea of beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And progress of virtually any sort appears to be Bullock's foe.

Of course, we can't know exactly what Bullock's agenda is &

to date he has not offered to share his vision for the city's future. He will not subject himself to a public election or to public scrutiny, even as he asserts his will on every taxpayer. He will not submit his ideas to the open forum of public debate.

But, Bullock is not alone. Rarely do any of those who share his ideas for the future of Ashland explain their rationale. Rarely is an intended outcome discussed, at least in public, in a comprehensive way that people can actually evaluate it. Progress for Bullock, it appears, is in its simple absence. Cut by cut, day by day, as change is pushed back victory is earned.

For those seeking to oppose him, they are impeded by a ghost of opposition, one defined by resistance, not vision. Blocking something is far easier than creating something that others can block, criticize or undermine.

Likewise, advancement toward this unnamed vision of Bullock continues in tiny steps: a legal challenge, an ordinance change, a few more people on a few more committees who seek a majority for future votes, all of which brings forth a significant change, yet one that is virtually impossible to recognize. The change is most notable by its absence.

Let's be clear. There is nothing wrong with this method &

nothing sinister or illegal or even deceptive. As we said after the last two city council elections, the winning candidates have won the popular vote. It is their place to craft the city they imagined when they ran for office and took positions on commissions and became citizen activists. They are at the meetings, they are actively working on their goals, and for several years, they have been more effective than those who have a different vision for the city.

But an overriding philosophy of this newspaper is that the public's business is best done publicly. While Bullock doesn't have to explain himself, the elected officials who share his views should.

Ashland is a city lacking vision. This absence creates a vacuum in which the political agenda of obstruction can emerge, playing on economic, political and cultural divisions that already exist in the city.

Ashland may not have smoke-filled backroom deals, but it does have its backroom deal-makers, who are, to date, very successful with their intentional plan for the city that they will never fully explain until it has occurred.

Only voters can demand more accountability. Only voters can insist on leadership that will declare its goals to the public, even if those goals are simply to take Ashland backward to a former place lost to history.

Share This Story