This newspaper and others have recently criticized the Ashland City Council's decision to conduct communications training to improve its decision-making process. Ironically, these criticisms actually reinforce the need for this training.

The Ashland City Council faces difficult decisions every meeting, with much more than $37,000 dollars at stake. In fact, the City Council is the board for a $91 million municipal corporation, which provides safety, utility, and planning services for nearly 22,000 people. The community debate over these issues is often passionate, sometimes divisive, and occasionally nasty.

For months, the Council has listened to citizen complaints that we "never get things done" and that our decisions take too long. Last summer, we decided that the complaints were right and began discussing the need for additional training.

We have tried cheaper, shorter trainings, and we've learned that true change takes time and requires follow-up. We know that there is no easy answer, and we are committed to real, lasting improvement.

Dr. Kirschner has worked successfully with dozens of major corporations, and charges them much more than the discounted rate he has given Ashland. He has also worked with local governments, including our own Ashland School Board. We are fortunate to have someone of Rick Kirschner's experience and skills in our own community. His hard work and dedication to his community deserves greater respect.

So, too, does the hard work of the volunteer members of your City Council. Unlike the Board of Directors of a private corporation or not-for-profit groups, City Councilors often disagree about the mission and values of the organization they are elected to lead. In fact we are often elected for those very reasons.

We come from different walks of life and we have different life experiences. What we share is a love of Ashland. What we are developing through this training are the tools to work together effectively for our community. We take our responsibility seriously enough to invest in developing those tools, which are essential to supporting the inclusive, excellent government services that we enjoy as citizens of Ashland.