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Letters to the editor

City Councilor cannot be trusted

Rich Rosenthal’s Nov. 3 letter provides careless inaccuracies and misleading statements.

He incorrectly stated that the “Susan Wilson” who wrote a recent letter regarding the Oak Knoll golf course was “one of the folks responsible for the loss of $24,581 last March for the recall election when a general election, at no cost to the city, was only a few weeks away.”

First, I did not write the above mentioned letter and I was the Sue Wilson who proudly supported the recall election to protect Ashland’s senior social services and financial stability. (Another “Susan Wilson” wrote the letter — a common name.)

Secondly, the general election was more than seven months away, not only a few weeks away. Since the recall vote was held, the local senior outreach service (that specifically had well-qualified local staff to visit seniors in their homes and assess their critical needs) has been eliminated. Recall supporters knew the vote could not wait because of this potential (and now real) harmful outcome. No one should complain of citizens who use their rights in a democracy.

Mr. Rosenthal also is misleading when he identifies the golf course revenue of $223,331 but does not mention the expenses of $508,000, which represents a $284,669 subsidy by Ashland residents in the last fiscal year. In fact, since 2011, the golf recovery rate has fallen from 96 percent to 44 percent and has cost Ashland residents almost $1.7 million in subsidies.

Mr. Rosenthal continues to say that “hardly any community parks recover 44 percent of expenses.” Well “community parks” may not have that recovery rate for good reasons. The same cannot be said for public golf courses. A 2017 golf industry report shows that 43 percent of public courses turned profits, while 33 percent had losses (http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/article/state-of-golf-industry/). Also, a cursory review of Oregon public courses found that courses in Milton Freewater, Cottage Grove, Roseburg had 100 percent cost recovery rates and Redmond had a 94 percent recovery rate.

I am a past championship golfer. I fully realize the benefits of a public golf course to a community. I believe that Ashland can and must do a better job to save its 90-year-old course. Mr. Rosenthal’s approach hinders transparency for honest discussions towards solutions.

Sue Wilson


Smoke risks overstated

I appreciate the awareness raising nature of the “Wildfire smoke could add to cancer risk” article that you published on Nov. 1, but I find that it misses the mark when it comes to wildfire smoke’s health risks. As Dr. (Siva) Marri states, “the long-term impacts are limited when it comes to wildfires.”

In the short term, healthy individuals exposed to wildfire smoke will in some cases experience acute symptoms like nausea/vomiting, headache, dry eyes, coughing, phlegm, sore throats, balance issues, and discomfort when breathing (which are also associated with exposure to ozone). The elderly and those individuals already subject to respiratory and/or cardiac distress may experience worsening of their symptoms, stroke, heart attack, and potentially death. Again, these are all “short-term” health impacts and are by no means less severe than long-term health impacts.

In general, studies have not found a causal relationship between exposure to wildfire smoke and negative long-term health impacts in healthy adults. The one area that has presented a potential exposure/long-term outcome relationship is among children exposed to ambient wildfire smoke. Infants exposed to wildfire smoke may have reduced lung capacity in adolescence. (A similar relationship exists among children in metropolitan areas that are chronically exposed to low air quality.) Studies have also found associations between wildfire smoke and increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among children, the elderly, and those with underlying chronic diseases, but not among otherwise healthy adults. An additional point to appreciate is that seasonal exposures to wildfire smoke (while potentially regular) are not chronic. They are acute events, and exposure levels experienced by firefighters and the general public are significantly different. There are also differences in the contents of wildfire, cigarette, and World Trade Center smoke and particulate matter.

We should refrain from misrepresenting the wildfire smoke risk as a long-term health problem, until supported by evidence. Instead we should properly elevate its risks to health in the short term (as the smoke event occurs).

Hazel Wheeler, MPH


Time change risks lives

I like Daylight Savings Time in the spring with longer sunlight after work, less now with darkness after work.

Modern support for DST came from a 1975 Department of Transportation study reporting a 1 percent energy savings may be moot with the increased use of air conditioning and seasonal-affective-disorder light therapy. What hasn’t changed is the spike in pedestrian fatalities by automobiles around 6 p.m. in the weeks after DST change.

Carnegie-Mellon University researchers found pedestrians are three times more likely to be struck and killed by a car in the week after DST compared to the month before. In 2005, researchers at the University of Michigan reported 63 pedestrian fatalities the week before DST and, sadly, 227 killed the week after. Fatalities decline in the weeks after DST, demonstrating drivers go through a period of adjustment.

When Benjamin Franklin mused about being thrifty with his lamp oil and proposed resetting clocks in a letter to the editor of the Journal de Paris in 1784, he couldn’t have had this evidence. We do. Let’s drive more cautiously at this time and be extra vigilant for pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the road. We don’t want to make any more sad news.

Rick Foster


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