No easy fixes
Since I moved to Ashland in 1998, I've had many mixed feelings about the homeless population and the panhandling issues.
The city and many organizations have reached out and helped these folks in many ways. However, I was, and still am, totally outraged by the devastating fire at Oak Knoll that destroyed 11 homes. It was started by a longtime local homeless man. He also was known to throw rocks at passing vehicles on I-5. Obviously he's mentally unstable; nevertheless, I don't appreciate still seeing him strolling around town.
Then there was the guy who started the fires to local businesses and broke car windows, etc., along the Plaza. I believe he arrived via bus from Texas. Also there have been people who have admitted taking in hundreds of dollars a week by panhandling, even though they weren't homeless, or even poor. In Portland, there are people with steady jobs who change to dirty clothing after work to go panhandling (I know this to be 100 percent true). It's really hard to tell the difference between people who are unfortunately down on their luck and truly need help, and those who may be less than honest, or may even be dangerous and might cause serious damage to property or other people.
I'm a fairly generous person and help others out when I can, but I do think there could and should be more strict laws regarding panhandling (or — let's face it — begging in public). Since the downtown business area and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival are so critically important to the ongoing economic survival of Ashland, I don't see why the city of Ashland couldn't flat-out ban panhandling in certain areas, maybe even the entire central downtown area! There are many other places people hang out to panhandle, so why couldn't we protect the tourists, business owners and local citizens from being confronted, and even occasionally hassled, downtown?
No easy fixes, or any way to please everyone, but we need to somehow protect the charm and overall safety of our special little town.
Craig G. Smith, Ashland
The choice is clear
The primary job of a county commissioner is be the financial manager of the county, so let's look at the position 1 candidates:
Tonia Moro worked as a junior staff member of a two-person law firm, then as a public defender. She has no financial or management experience.
Curtis Chancler worked as an auto mechanic. He has no financial or management experience.
Rick Dyer worked for 20 years selling cars, then he's installed windows for five years. He has no financial experience.
Curt Ankerberg is an Oregon Certified Public Accountant, with 30 years experience as a financial auditor, senior tax manager, chief financial officer and owner of a CPA practice. He's managed two of the 10 largest CPA firms in the United States. He's successfully created budgets, solved complex financial issues and managed large entities.
The choice is clear. Curt Ankerberg is the only qualified candidate for Jackson County commissioner, position 1.
Irvin Hein, Medford
I am writing this letter to encourage my friends and neighbors to join me in supporting Sen. Alan Bates for re-election.
As a person involved in the field of medicine, I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the benefits of the senator’s support of health care expansion and reform among the individuals I serve. More Oregonians have gained coverage, and positive changes have been made to improve our existing service model.
I mention this as one example among the many significant contributions Dr. Bates has made during his tenure of office. It is my sincere hope that this progress will continue, and I believe that Alan Bates possesses the desire and the ability to continue to work to enhance the quality of life for the people of our region and our entire state.
Rachelle Roulier, Jacksonville