Open Letter to APRC Chair Mike Gardiner Regarding the Ashland Senior Center

Open Letter to APRC Chair Mike Gardiner
Dear Mr. Gardiner,
A few days ago, the Ashland Daily Tidings published your Park Views Column, “Facts on
Ashland Senior Program.” I feel compelled to take issue with a number of your assertions in that
You began by describing the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission’s (APRC) formation of
the Senior Program Subcommittee, writing that the “subcommittee was composed of two
commissioners, the Senior Center Program manger and two senior APRC members,” implying
that there were five people in the group. In fact, the minutes from the October 24, 2016 APRC
Regular meeting clearly state that only you and Commissioner Jim Lewis were appointed. The
three staff members you listed attended the meetings, but were not voting members. No public
members were invited to join the subcommittee, a major flaw in any public process.
You reviewed the subcommittee’s goals. The fourth one included “seek advocates of the senior
program . . .” You also stated that “members of the public attended these meetings and each
agenda provided time for either general public input or input on a specific agenda item.” Those
of us following the subcommittee’s work—I was present at the first and last meetings, my wife,
Jackie Bachman, attended five of the six you discussed—and those looking back over the public
record since August 8th and 9th, find little to support that the subcommittee made a good faith
effort to achieve the goal of seeking senior program advocates or seriously considering public
input. In fact, our perception of the process is exactly the opposite:
1. The agenda for the January 24th meeting was not available until the meeting day, violating
anyone’s interpretation of public meeting laws requiring adequate public notification.
2. The first and last meetings were well attended only because seniors networked to make that
happen. My wife was one of the few, if any, public attendees at meeting 2 through 5.
3. There is no evidence that the subcommittee considered any of the public testimony received
at these meetings. In fact, Commissioner Lewis announced at the final subcommittee
meeting on August 8th that his mind was made up BEFORE public testimony was heard.
4. Minutes from the many meetings were not posted on the City website in a timely manner,
making it difficult—if not impossible—for those not attending meetings to follow the decision
making process. In fact, many of them were not posted until AFTER the August 9th APRC
meeting at which Director Black’s recommendations were accepted.
You wrote that the “APRC will form an ad hoc Senior Advisory Committee made up of program
participants, related professional field experts, APRC staff and commissioners.” But consider
how this ad hoc committee idea came into being:
1. After the August 8th subcommittee meeting at which Director Black’s recommendations
were accepted by a vote of 2-0 in favor, Mr. Black revised his recommendations in
preparation for the August 9th APRC regular meeting.
2. It was clear to those of us attending the August 9th meeting that the Commissioners were
prepared to vote to accept the revised recommendations WITHOUT HAVING READ THEM.
3. After a member of the public stood up to raise a “point of order” that the Commissioners
actually read the newly revised recommendations before voting to accept them was there a
discussion of the changes.
4. It was only then that Commissioner Landt proposed creating the ad hoc committee.

In closing, if your goal was to seek advocacy for senior programs in Ashland, you have
succeeded. Organizing the seniors of Ashland to advocate for senior issues affecting them is
well under way. We have found our voice!
Jim Bachman
United Seniors of Ashland