John Enders' commentary on Tuesday, April 24, was an unwarranted scathing attack on those who oppose the city manager amendment (M15-76) and charter replacement (M15-77). Accusations abounded like "underhanded methods," "obsessive ego-driven agendas," "perverted sense of populism," "this group's systematic campaign of lies and false allegations," "anti-government radical activists," and the list goes on.
I was astounded and alarmed by these slanderous remarks, and personally felt offended because my late husband Al and I attended many meetings of both groups examining the charter.
We found the charter review committee was more likely to muffle discourse and opposing viewpoints than AshlandConstitution.org, which operated very democratically, allowing differing perspectives. Ground rules established from the start were listed on a chart board and emphasized at each meeting. The group abided by them even as new folks arrived. One key ground rule was that each person's opinion was to be respected &
"put-downs" and attacks weren't tolerated.
Mr. Enders apparently doesn't adhere to this basic democratic civility. He does himself a disservice in his efforts to convey a message to support these measures.
The voters' pamphlet contains several well-reasoned analyses explaining why to vote 'no' on both M15-76 and M15-77. Neither Mr. Enders nor anyone else submitted an argument in favor of either measure. Mr. Enders charges the opposition with intent "to force city government to grind to a halt." Those arguing against a city manager included Les Au Coin (former congressman), Dr. Alan Bates (state senator), Peter Buckley (state representative), Dr. Dave Gilmour (county commissioner) and Jeff Golden (former county commissioner).
Would any of these esteemed people issue a recommendation that "would grind city government to a halt?" The answer is obvious. Yet all five urged us to "resoundingly reject" the city manager amendment.
I'll vote no on both charter measures based on evaluation of facts, not "lies" as Mr. Enders accused.
For M15-76, I favor a mayor and council accountable to us and don't approve a city manager holding major power without being elected. M15-77 puts at risk Lithia Park, our water, and our electric utility from unforeseen consequences. For both measures, the "i's" weren't dotted and "t's" not crossed. What's left to conjecture or interpretation in a legal document can lead to serious misgivings later.
Remember that the Council split — to — and both measures only passed with the Mayor's vote. This tells me that AshlandConstitution.org fairly reflected Ashland's views.
The Ashland City Charter is our Ashland Constitution. Such an important document shouldn't be changed with such underwhelming support.
Let's retain the present Charter as is until a community consensus emerges supporting a constitutional change to City government.