Sunday, August 23, 2009


As some of you may know (wrote he, having no idea whether or not anyone is going to read this...), I resolved some months ago to report at every Council meeting on the Oregon National Guard during its entire deployment to Iraq. They are part of our community and I believe we should stay mindful of them, as we would if a particular soldier was a personal friend or a relative.

For a couple of months the news was pretty tame. Then at the August 4th meeting I reported that one of the Guard's vehicles had been hit by two IEDs (road-side bombs). Fortunately no one was hurt.

But Friday, Aug. 14th, I was reading the Oregonian online and found this:

As I read down the column I was stunned. And I realized the reporter was trying to do the complementary part to what I'm trying to do: keep us back in Ashland aware of what really is happening to the troops. Only I just wasn't prepared for it.

In retrospect I think it's worth mentioning how the Oregon soldiers quickly rushed to this soldier's side as he was carried from the scene; an Oregon medic rode in the helicopter with him in addition to the regular medic on duty and his fellow soldiers set up a rotation so that someone was always with him in the hospital until they evacuated him for further treatment and eventually to come home.

One of those soldiers who took turns sitting by his bed was the Colonel in charge of the entire Brigade. I met him at the deployment ceremonies in Central Point. At the time I didn't understand his sober demeanor. Now I do - he feels personally responsible for every soldier.

As do we.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"The Real Mayor"

There’s the job of the Mayor and then there’s “being” the Mayor.

Naturally there have been surprises since taking office, and also things I anticipated but are just different when you (I) actually experience them. Being “The Mayor” is one of those things.

It’s clear that people want more from the Mayor than to simply do a good job and represent the City in various formal occasions and community gatherings. It’s also more than being an ombudsman and a one person complaint bureau. There is a character in the play, “Ashland, the City”, called The Mayor and the play just isn’t the same if whom we see up on stage is Joe X in a Mayor’s costume.

So who is this character? I’d like to know your opinions.

Personally, I’m in the process of figuring it out, playing by ear, occasionally being fed lines from the prompter’s box. I believe the Mayor is in love with the city, is fascinated by it, proud and protective of it. He (or she) tells its story, not just the past but also where it’s going. He steals a lot of the story from others; wherever he goes he listens for fragments and then strings them together into a yarn.

I also think “the Mayor” feels for (on behalf of; symbolically?) the city. He expresses the city’s heart: its compassion, its optimism, its generosity, its reserve,

At his best “the Mayor” enunciates the communal wisdom and is a reassuring voice in uncertain times...

Now I’m freaking myself out. How can anyone do all that?

Oh, and the Mayor has to be real.