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Letter to the Editor

 Posted: 2:00 AM August 24, 2012

Questions about donation boxes

Ashland donation boxes raise many questions. First, what is the real cost of this effort that garnered $90 in change after three months? Is taxpayer money used to buy, install, maintain and manage these donation boxes? After theft from these boxes, what is the cost for their removal, redesign, repainting and reinstallation?

Second, St. Vincent DePaul's website states that they are a Catholic charity. Don't public donation boxes pose a conflict between church and state?

Third, is it not ironic that donation boxes have been widely disparaged by "members of the homeless community?" In Santa Monica, Calif., panhandlers overrun the streets, parks and beaches, made worse by giveaway programs. The city erected large, sculpted porpoise "piggy banks" to dissuade panhandling. The situation worsened and the panhandlers became more unmanageable and aggressive. Should Ashland ignore lessons from other cities?

Finally, the donation boxes are "a project of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce." The Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines chamber of commerce as "an association of business people to promote commercial and industrial interests in the community." After the fire set by a homeless person in our city Plaza, our Ashland Chamber of Commerce failed to speak up or take action in support of our local businesses that sustained heavy losses.

Wouldn't the town be better served if they focused more on ways to attract new talent, money and diversity to this community? Why does our town not call for the enforcement of existing laws against vagrants, loiterers, vandals and panhandlers?

Joel Axelrod


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