A few points of view on the Plaza redesign
Some thoughts regarding the Plaza redesign:
Users: shopkeepers; residents, including students; tourists; delivery personnel
Functions: shopping; entertainment; relaxation and socialization
Issues: parking for cars and shop deliveries; space for entertainment, including dining and performances; traffic flow; deterioration of planted spaces due to foot traffic
Points of view:
1. The European small-town model suggests far too much emphasis on parking compared with public foot traffic and outdoor dining. When was the last time you enjoyed time spent in a parking lot? Existing parking strips in front of shops should incorporate numerous bulb-outs to allow adjacent shops to provide dining or sales displays. Increased exposure of products should slow foot traffic and compensate for lost parking.
2. A proper performance space would be an elevated platform with multiple uses, integrated power and A/V, and would be backed up by a solid sound-reflecting surface. Elevation allows a crowd to see better. A good place for a backdrop would be near the bus stop, so that street traffic noise would be masked. In fact, the bus stop could be integrated with the backdrop.
3. It is probably not necessary to provide full traffic circulation within the plaza itself. Allow traffic to go up to Oak and around via Water Street, thus freeing more space for grass and performance. Limit delivery parking to the space along the central island.
4. The existing benches are attractive, and far more comfortable than concrete blocks. More benches are needed.
5. Provide fully researched traffic-tolerant plantings, with possible integrated support as in green driveways, with night watering and optimal feeding.
Citizens United must be overturned
Kudos to the Ashland City Council for passing a ballot measure that allows Ashland citizens to weigh in on the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision.
Because of daily media reports on obscene amounts of campaign contributions flowing into political campaigns, more and more citizens are aware that something is drastically wrong with our current election process auctioning off our representatives to the highest bidder. What they may not be aware of is that there is a nonpartisan citizen group right here in the valley, Jackson County Move to Amend (www.movetoamendjacksoncounty.org) that seeks, along with affiliate groups across the nation, to overturn the Citizens United decision via a constitutional amendment. Such an amendment would state unequivocally that unalienable rights belong to human beings only (not to corporations, unions, nonprofits, LLCs or multinational corporations) and that money is not a form of protected free speech.
I am grateful to the City Council, especially Carol Voisin, and to the "gray panthers" at Mountain Meadows, especially John Tyler, who advocated for the ballot measure. Citizens can support future efforts in the county by coming to the next Jackson County Move to Amend meeting from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Medford Library.
Silent Republicans should speak out
I believe as an article of faith that there are a great many silent Republicans who are troubled by the current tactics of their party, never mind its policy direction.
I'm talking about the disinformation machinery running full throttle, day and night, turning out distortions, partial truths, half truths, little lies, bigger ones, whoppers. Romney seems determined to break all records in this regard.
I think the silence of these less-than-approving Republicans must be considered at least tacit approval of this least democratic exercise.
It is therefore nothing less than interesting to hear Sen. Harry Reid accused of McCarthyism, that infamous strategy of what party? The GOP? Roars of indignation that such an accusation — that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years — might be a distortion, a half truth, might possibly rise to the threshold of a lie, came from a Democrat, a ranking Democrat: Oh, the outrage.
Whatever it turns out to be, this Democrat approves of this message.