Suit protects rights

Your May 24 editorials in the Tidings and Mail Tribune express the opinion that court claims against the cities of Ashland and Medford regarding the constitutionality of their expulsion ordinances are ill-advised.

We are thankful that newspapers have the right to express opinions on matters of public interest. We, as citizens, also have the right to express opinions, and we think the purpose of our lawsuit is not fully understood.

We agree that cities have a duty to enforce laws against behavior that infringes on the rights of others. Already, there are laws that authorize them to do that, including removing alleged wrong-doers and charging them with a crime. We are not objecting to that, but the expulsion ordinance does much more. It banishes people from being in public areas into the future.

The courts have always considered public parks, streets, and buildings to be places where people can associate and express opinions, even those in opposition to our government or our editors. It is the impairment of the right of free association that court cases are designed to correct. We do not want these rights eroded in order to banish a few wrong-doers for six months.

Patricia and Gary Pound

Medford

Park deal praised

We offer our applause to the managers of Crater Lake National Park and Triglav National Park in Slovenia for their new “twinning” agreement. At a time when our nation’s leaders are turning their backs to the international community, this type of grassroots cooperation is a refreshing change.

The agreement will provide the opportunity for the respective park staffs to learn from each other — enabling them to better manage their parks for the benefit of the thousands of citizens and international visitors who come to enjoy them. It will also encourage people to visit new and exciting places on their travels and to better understand the cultures of the people who live there.

Fifteen years ago, we lived in Slovenia for a year and visited the Triglav area several times. We hiked around both Lake Bohinj, a crystal-clear, undeveloped lake, and Lake Bled, a highly developed tourist destination only a few miles away. The contrast was dramatic, but we enjoyed both lakes and gained a valuable understanding about different approaches to managing and protecting natural areas.

Just like Crater Lake in the U.S., Triglav is considered a national treasure in Slovenia. Folklore has it that only those who have climbed Mt. Triglav, the highest peak in the country, are true Slovenians. While we did not climb the mountain, the time we spent in and near Triglav National Park was among the highlights of our time in Slovenia.

We hope this new agreement will not only improve the management of both parks, but will also encourage other Oregonians to visit Slovenia and Triglav in particular. Those who do will not be disappointed!

Ron and Tracy Bass,

Ashland

Reinvest in education

As a former Oregon House majority leader (1973-75), I understand the fiscal challenges our state faces, but the decades-long disinvestment of Oregon’s education system must come to an end.

Since leaving the Legislature, I have witnessed our state’s retreat from valuing and investing in education in my roles as a college administrator, professor and university trustee for Southern Oregon University, although, here I only represent myself. Without revenue reforms and investment in education, this trend will force our young people to endure larger class-sizes, shorter school years, and back-breaking increases in college tuition.

There will never be enough revenue to fund our schools and services until we repair Oregon’s broken tax system. After a recent discussion with my friend Sen. Alan DeBoer, I’m confident he understands and supports the need for revenue reform.

Oregon needs $2 billion in additional funding to make meaningful educational investments. When I was a legislator in the mid-1970s, corporate taxes made up 18.5 percent of state revenue; by 2015, it had been whittled to 6.7 percent. Clearly, we have not exhausted our capacity to finance education. Now the Legislature must have the courage to put children, families and an educated workforce first in its priorities.

Les AuCoin

Bozeman, Montana