We spend millions of dollars trying to attract visitors with our laid back lifestyles and open, friendly demeanor, then search the streets for parking ticket violators to pay delinquent fines.

OK "¦ I do not get it.

We spend millions of dollars trying to attract visitors with our laid back lifestyles and open, friendly demeanor, then search the streets for parking ticket violators to pay delinquent fines.

I do not believe there is a more effective way to make Ashland appear to be a ghetto than to boot cars, something that is done in large, congested, run down urban areas, not in destination resorts oozing willing culture, the well heeled, and releasing positive energy.

We might just as well shoot deer on the boulevard to get it into the open that we are decades behind most sophisticated burgs, yet it grows worse when our local government keeps on enforcing the unenforceable and dip into the moth-filled wallets of those already under duress.

Car booting was discussed and frowned upon during the five two-hour meetings that the Downtown Task Force held nearly two years ago in the Ashland Community Development Department's Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way.

Most of the approximately two dozen merchants who regularly attended the "meetings" thought that the city had an agenda, as confirmed by a senior staffer who said the whole discussion was destined for the circular file and that decisions had already been made. The staffer laughed and said that the circus we attended would be used to "prove" that the public was involved, although the merchants were only allowed to comment on the previous week's meeting which basically translated to: "Sit down and shut up."

The Fire Department is looking to fine slackers $80,000, a sum floated to get our attention. How would the administration know, in advance, how much any such fines would be? It seems that we will suffer under the lash until the fines meet the city's goals.

Newspaper racks, which the task force barely discussed, popped into the forefront with the new rules limiting distribution locations of the news boxes as well as an annual charge to "maintain" them.

After reflecting upon taxes in Ashland it's safe to say that this newspaper box tax will, most assuredly, go nothing but up the moment the voters blink.

Launching booting and towing might be more acceptable were it not so visible to our visitors. It seems to be a little too much for the crowning jewel of Oregon to send our mercenary, Diamond Parking, into the fray to install the boots and oversee the towing. I guess that the tactic is to invite visitors to Ashland, have them motor around town in search for a parking space as they strain their necks in search of a Chronicle or Oregonian.

The sad truth of the matter is that the audience wanted the Lion, Bear and Alfredo to be grandfathered into the mix as they had been happy mascots which seemed to attract and charm visitors and locals alike.

The city attorney pooh-poohed the grandfather route, even as the room started to rumble, groan and bemoan the fate of the mascots. None of us thought that a parking/signage review would include booting and towing, without further discussion nor did any of us, at that time, anticipate that the city would stuff the mascot issue into the freezer of promises unfulfilled.

Enforcement and fines have been rolled out, yet nothing approved by the Task Force, and nothing embraced by those who sat and listened to every word. It would appear that senior staff went through the backdoor to the Council and let them know the "true facts" of the myriad issues and that we were sliding into purgatory if we did not regulate print news, increase fire inspections and move to strict parking ticket adherence.

If you think that boot and tow, newspaper surcharges, mascot disallowance on top of the never-ending Meals Tax is the end of the extortion and strong arm tactics being used against visitors and locals alike then you have not heard of the other taxes being considered.

Lance@journalist.com was last seen writing a top secret list of taxes in his side yard. If you have and suggestions please send them, as I would rather be prepared than blindsided, again.