Essentially Ashland by Lance K. Pugh: It seems to me that Ashland's current and soon-to-be expanded methods of collecting funds pits the various city departments against the public.

Last night I had a dream/vision/nightmare about trying to pass through a roadblock into Ashland as I was questioned, searched and made to walk through a metal detector, all under the auspices of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. After wrestling with some stubborn sheets I ended up exhausted on the floor, struggling to make sense out of this frustrating dash through slumber land. It took me only a half-hour to understand what had gone wrong.

It seems to me that Ashland's current and soon-to-be expanded methods of collecting funds pits the various city departments against the public. As enforcement and fines ratchet upward and each department totes a bag of loot down to the finance department twice a month, we tend to look like heartless highwaymen doing a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

I overheard a city employee tell the owner of a longtime restaurant that a team soon would be in to cite them for any fire-related code violations. My fear is that the building department, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the health department and many other arms of our squid-like government will band together and strike like a SWAT team, closing down business after business while posting crime-scene tape across entrances and exits.

In our apparent effort to be cute, tidy and huggable — except for Truffles the Bear, who is barred from coming in contact with the public, and the lion that has been replaced by a metal pole to act as a doorstop for the Black Sheep — Ashland has created unnecessary discord and debate where relative harmony should exist.

Most restaurants have cut things lean in order to keep the doors open, which, according to the majority of voters who made assumptions without any proof of the overall effects of our never-ending meals tax, seems to have paved the way for more lashings, citations and fines to be allotted to those who publicly were against the wishes of the city. No good deed goes unpunished.

I know that we are missing the big picture here, so in an effort to promote equality, I propose checkpoints at every entrance to the city. With the permission of Disney plus a little grease on the palm, we could have everyone who attempts to run a blockade in search of a public restroom do the decent thing and "volunteer" to broom-clean the streets while wearing ragged clothing from the general time of Shakespeare.

All cars would be searched by dogs for stashes of prepared food and alcohol, as eating in restaurants or at home would be the only legal places to tackle the gruel that has become a favorite of the locals. Thinking about a picnic in Ashland? In an exception to the municipal code, a rustic bite might be fleetingly allowed in the open-air freight cars parked for extended periods in the Railroad District. For an additional charge, pizzas could be delivered, though with a "historic district" surcharge on top of the meal and tax.

Yes, the theme would be Disneyesque, but think of all the revenue that could be generated for the city! Inspections for tire tread thickness, tailpipe emissions, brakes, tail lights and turning signals, seatbelts and battery charge could be conducted on the spot, raking in more fines to feather the coffers.

Once a background check is run to ensure that utility and all taxes are current, you would be provided with a 24-hour pass for only $10 and allowed to drive by and view our theatrical enchanted castle perched above Lithia Park with its fluttering banners and a host of period musical instruments to keep us all happy and content while miscreants and slackers are lashed while tied to a pole on the Plaza.

Now that the city charges for newspaper boxes, what next surprise awaits us? The city brags that it can extract another $80,000 in new fines and fees from current businesses. The question is: How many will be forced to close and dash the hopes of both owners and employees?

Lance@journalist.com was last seen attempting to purchase a bag of potatoes with monopoly money. He argued that the money was backed by his full faith and credit, but was still hauled to the Plaza for a waltz with the whip.