Headline was a nod to celebrity culture; Renting in Ashland has been unpleasant; Consultants get paid despite lack of need; AT&T plays hardball with cell tower plans

Headline was a nod to celebrity culture

The bold headline on Monday's front page blasted, "TV star returns home."

Ann Curry is a reporter, not a star. If an Ashland High School graduate had gone on to work as an editor or investigative reporter for the New York Times, would your headline read, "A newspaper star returns home"?

Your headline is a manifestation of the culture of celebrity. Celebrities used to be heroes, movie actors, government leaders, great achievers. Today celebrities are everywhere, known more for their images than their achievements.

Thirty years ago, historian Daniel Boorstin put it this way in his book "The Image": "The celebrity is well known for his well-knownness."

Things probably will not change very soon. But at least newspapers can help by ratcheting back the hype when they report the news.

Jim Flint

Ashland

Consultants get paid despite lack of worth

The June 8 article on the City Council adopting an ordinance affirming its intention to seek suppliers and services locally whenever possible brought up the issue of expenditures on consultants. City Administrator Martha Bennett is quoted to the effect that she frequently hears consultant expenses questioned. The explanations provided by Lee Tuneberg do little to put this question to rest.

Having asked the same questions about the school district I worked for in California, and having received the same insufficient responses, I'm growing to think that consultant expense is becoming our society's most sacred cow.

Let's apply some common sense. How large a community is Ashland that its transportation master plan (to guide infrastructure planning for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians) warrants the staggering figure of $416,740? Mind you, this isn't to actually build any infrastructure, this is to guide the planning! I think the (consultant) emperor doesn't really have any new clothes.

Here's what I think goes on: Nobody manages the consultant budget, asking questions like, "Do we really need you to go down that particular road?" So the consultants define your need for their services and, naturally, they'll make the job as extensive as they can, at their fine and fancy hourly rates! We're also so deferential these days to specialists and so-called experts that we're afraid to do anything without having the backing of some expert, lest someone might sue us or decide that we didn't do a "world class" job.

Avram Chetron

Ashland

Renting in Ashland has been unpleasant

I have lived in Ashland for many years, but as a student, I have struggled with housing. Before I moved to my current house, it was noisy neighbors throwing parties all night, every night (hey, it's a college town, it happens). So when I rented a house in a family neighborhood a few blocks from a school, I thought my renter worries were over.

I was sadly mistaken. My landlord has refused to let me have his number, so I cannot contact him unless I go to his house or write him a letter. He did not want to install blinds in any of the windows when I moved in, insisting I really did not need them. But most problematic is my landlord showing up randomly. Recently, I walked out my back door and there he was, in my backyard, looking through my windows. I asked for 24 hours notice, via phone or letter prior to him showing up. Now he wants to kick me out, all because I asked him to follow our written agreement, the law and show some sort of respect for my privacy.

Ashland landlords: Please treat us renters with some basic respect.

Shannon Bates

Ashland

AT&T plays hardball with cell tower plans

Question for AT&T: Which do you think is a better location for a new cell tower in Ashland, given that either location provides the desired improvement in service?

A. By the freeway where there is an already existing cell tower.

B. On top of a family theater in a shopping center adjacent to health care facilities where there is no current cell tower.

AT&T chose the cinema location, despite writing in its planning packet that the freeway location is "a reasonable location according to the search map" and that co-location at the freeway site could work from a radio frequency perspective.

After 352 people wrote letters of opposition to the cinema location, the Planning Commission received a letter from AT&T. Staff were fully expecting it to be a request to withdraw the application, due to this overwhelming community opposition. Instead, AT&T flagrantly disregarded community input and requested that the records be re-opened, so it could restate its existing agenda and push forward.

Now citizens have a further week for input. The issue here is whether corporations can force their agenda on a community, or whether citizens' input is seriously considered in the local decision making process. Your voice can make a difference. If you want to speak up, send an e-mail to April at the Planning Commission: lucasa@ashland.or.us. E-mails must be received before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 22.

Rod and Brooks Newton

Hidden Springs Wellness Center

Ashland