The summer of discontent
Council performance is lamentable. Voter frustration is understandable. A recall appears unavoidable. Getting 1,451 petition signatures is a no"'brainer. Getting 50.01 percent of voters to remove sitting councilors is different altogether. I guess we are in for the summer of our discontent. So while we are at it can we also recall the resident kings?
Start with Art Bullock. Add in Colin Swales. Tom Dimitre. Phil Lang. Barbara Rosen. Paul Copeland. Ralph Temple. The PGP and a few extremist groups. As much as my gears are ground by the seeming impotency of our council and mayor, I am more torqued by the insiders and interlopers, wannabes and just plain time-wasters.
They drag the council down with their ideology, philosophies and petulance at a time when all the voters want is practicality, common sense and civility. What we have is a bunch of micromanagers managing micromanagers. Consequently little gets done, staff is burned out and citizens divide on apathy and open hostility.
The worst thing taking place is not the idea nor the act of a petition to recall. The truly awful thing is the manner in which we Ashlanders have resorted to talking about it. To make yourself sick, go to the Ashland Daily Tidings' Web site and look up Chris Rizo's July 23 story ("Recall effort starts to take shape") and read the comments. And that's before the story and letter by Aaron Corbet.
For a town that prides itself on the education level of even its unemployed, we conduct ourselves in the most base of manners. Ashland is the poster child for polarization. And you can't say it's those nasty conservatives fighting with those pointy-headed liberals. In a town where almost 90 percent vote as liberals or "progressives," I have to conclude that council &
and let's not overlook the mayor, a recall survivor &
has managed one thing well: alienating the entire political spectrum.
Needlessly I might add. Talk of this recall has been active for months and council and its lobbyists have had ample time to hear the drum beats for change. Rather than listen to the unmistakable grumblings and making any effort at meeting the community part way, most have dug in, hardening their positions. Steely position taking is not managing. It may not even be principled. It might just be plain dumb.
Grown-ups in Ashland get riled up when money is wasted and opportunity is squandered. The sleeping dog has woken. Beware.
Hansen is bad for business
Bugsy Siegal was a businessman. He is responsible for what eventually became Las Vegas. We all know what a terrific place that is. However, his competition had a way of mysteriously disappearing. The Trojan power plant was a very large business. However, it was decommissioned because otherwise it was headed inexorably toward a meltdown. This would in fact have poisoned the Ogallala Aquifer, which extends all the way to the Midwest, for centuries to come
Clearly, anyone who is categorically for or against business needs their head examined, and has no place in public life. There is good business and bad business. And anyone encouraging such categorical thinking does so either out of greed, like Richard Hansen of Gold and Gems Fine Jewelry, or out of terminal witlessness, like Cathy Shaw.
There are many good businesses in Ashland. Local examples are Greenleaf, Mobius, Brothers (who offer a year-round discount to residents), Jefferson State Pub, etc. Even chain stores like Safeway, Albertsons, Bi-Mart, and Shop-N-Kart provide useful products while being socially and environmentally benign.
There are also examples of bad businesses; pre-eminently, all the real estate speculators who keep jacking up housing costs for their own gain, at the expense of our social fabric. The Mt. Ashland Association can't even maintain its present facilities; yet want to expand at the expense of irreversible environmental damage, and probable compromise of our water supply. It seems likely that the Circuit Court is going to finally nail them on this.
Richard Hansen wants to recall precisely those three city councilors who refuse to think categorically about business. His arguments are revealing. He flat-out lies about the fight over the ski expansion costing taxpayers $100,000. The fight is by several environmental groups and doesn't cost taxpayers a penny. Hansen's other gripes are that these three councilors also refuse to think categorically about the homeless, and that their concern about affordable housing is genuine enough that they actually try to do something about it. Horrors!
I suggest that Hansen take his business elsewhere.
Letters: At length
The summer of discontent