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Renew the library levy

 Posted: 2:00 AM October 15, 2012

Ashland residents have held on to the increasingly passé idea of investing in and supporting valuable community services. We encourage them to continue with that "outdated" way of thinking by once again supporting a levy to bolster services at the Ashland library.

Measure 15-113 would renew a 2008-approved levy of 21 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value that allows the Ashland library to be open 40 hours a week instead of the 24 hours common at other county-owned libraries. The four-year levy, which also would augment other library services, would raise about $440,000 in 2014 and increase in increments to about $480,000 by 2017.

The owner of a typical Ashland home assessed at $241,000 would pay $50.61 per year or a little more than $4 a month.

Jackson County voters in 2000 approved a $39 million bond measure to build or remodel 15 county library branches, including Ashland's. But within a few short years, the county saw timber-related revenues shrink and its budget do the same. So county officials cut funding for the libraries, resulting in a temporary closure at one point, before bringing in a private company to manage the libraries.

Operating on a reduced budget, the libraries are open each week for periods ranging from eight hours in Butte Falls to 24 hours at the main library in Medford. Oh, yes, and then there's Ashland's library, open 40 hours a week.

Ashland is a college town, a theater town and a town that supports education and lifelong learning. Its school system, despite shrinking enrollment, always ranks near the top in state testing, the result of the support and investment made by local residents. The belief that knowledge is important permeates who the community is and what its priorities are.

Let's hope Ashlanders remain stuck in the past and continue to support the services that help make Ashland what it is. Vote yes on Measure 15-113.

Yes on Measure 15-116

The Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations, unions and some companies should be considered on equal footing with people when it comes to campaign contributions and that those contributions are a form of free speech.

That has opened the door to a massive infusion of money into political campaigns and a further distortion of the democratic process. We now have a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people — especially rich people. And by rich people, we mean the corporations, companies and unions that have been granted personhood by the court.

It was an infuriating ruling and, because Congress dances to the tune played by the money masters, there's little chance of it being overturned anytime soon. But that doesn't mean we should accept it.

The Ashland City Council is offering city residents a chance to have their say by placing an advisory measure, Measure 15-116, on the ballot that if approved would ask Congress to start the process for a constitutional amendment to reverse the court ruling.

It is nothing more than that — advice that would be sent to Congress. Can one small city's opinion make a difference? Unlikely, but it must start with a few if it has any hope of growing into a groundswell. Ashland can be one of those starting places. Vote yes on Measure 15-116.

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