Expectations raise the bar for Ashland
I'm writing in response to several of the letters to the editor printed on Friday, March 19. The common theme of three of the four letters was a complaint about authority. One was irate that Ashland would actually turn up the heat on residents with thousands of dollars of parking tickets. Another was critical of the Ashland school system because her under-performing son didn't get immediate alterations in his school program. The third was sure that Ashland teenagers see the police as enemies. The cry from all three was to the effect of, "Where's the love?"
I want to make the case that the wonderful community we live in is wonderful because we have expectations about how people should behave in a civil society. License to be inconsiderate of others is not a god-given right! (Why can't we decide we should pay a parking ticket when we get one?) And every parent who expects the education system to adapt itself to her child's self-defined needs rather than teaching the child what the society may require of him or her does a serious disservice to that child.
It takes some maturity and requires a sense of obligation to your community to have a community that we all enjoy.
City workers have it better than most
Without a doubt, every city employee I've had contact with has been just what one should expect from our city and most go beyond the "expected."Also, the small business and private sector staff perform their duties above and beyond. I don't know any small businesses that can afford to offer employees a raise, much less city "Cadillac" health benefits.
A recent USA Today report on compensation shows that we, the tax payers, are far more generous paying our public employees versus our own employees. An example from the USA Today: "State government employees had an average salary of $47,231 in 2008, about 5 percent less than comparable jobs in the private sector. City and county workers earned an average of $43,589, about 2 percent more than private workers in similar jobs. State and local workers have higher total compensation than private workers when the value of benefits is included."
Yep, we pay them better, including benefits that we can't provide our own business employees. Now is not the time to add to the taxpayers' bill of ever increasing tax, tax, tax and fee, fee, fee and consulting bills without end! City employees should be happy to have a job.
Parking enforcement is bad for business
I've been known to get carried away while in downtown Ashland shopping and dining, only to pay the price with a whopping $30 ticket for over-staying my two-hour limit. I've even been so irresponsible as to think that I could take the time to get to know my banking associate while establishing a new account at Wells Fargo, only to once again pay the price with a another $30 ticket for over-staying the 15 minutes allotted there. I thought that I had learned my lesson and was trying really hard to be a good girl when — what, another ticket? What could this one possibly be for? Parking more than 12 inches from the curb? Are you guys kidding me?
I'm sorry, Ashland merchants, I love your unique stores, but I guess I'm just too unruly to hang out down there. Yes, the mall is not nearly as cool, but at least they get that, the longer I stay, the more money I spend and that the city scanning the parking lot extracting revenue from their customers at $30 a pop for even the slightest infraction is short-sighted and really bad for business. Lighten up, Ashland!
Former Ashlander just doesn't get it
Yes, Ashland is an amazing place, especially for families, contrary to the recent, sarcastic letter to the editor from a former resident who has now left for the sunnier, bankrupt skies of California. While we should never rest on our laurels, we have much to be happy about in this tiny, vibrant, conscious community. That letter points to basic ignorance about how and why things are done in Ashland. Why do we spend so much money on Lithia Park? Simple: tourism. National Geographic named Ashland one of the top 10 "geotourism" spots in the world last year.
Ashland schools? By objective measures they are among the best in the nation; AHS is in the top 3 percent overall (US News & World Report), with an astounding eight national merit scholarship finalists this year! Is there room for improvement? We're working on that too; foreign language immersion and self-run food services were just voted in this month.
And we do it with half the per-pupil state money that some states spend. Ashland is renowned for exploring every possible, legal option for funding schools.
Instead of sitting in an ivory tower, why not do something positive and pragmatic like so many others do in Ashland? On March 31, Ashland residents are bringing the virtuoso supergroup Hapa to play a benefit concert at the SOU Recital Hall. The beneficiary? The Ashland Schools Foundation (see www.HapaInAshland.com). I love it here, and I'm not even a vegan.
Letters to the Editor
Expectations raise the bar for Ashland