Opinion: Councilor’s Cynicism Needs to Stop


Here I present Tonya Graham’s form letter which she probably sent to every one of the 20 or so people who wrote to the Council supporting the citizen’s committee to investigate options for the Winburn Way repair/renovation projects. 

Her letter demonstrates to all but the most tone deaf among us, just how pointless forming this committee was.  Tonya fancies herself a master of double-speak and obfuscation… and she is.  But what she doesn’t realize is just how badly she fails at it, how obvious her prejudices are.  She has telegraphed the futility of the committee’s work in no uncertain terms.

If you recall, at the very end of the last CBC meeting, Clr. Seffinger said, “see, we’re listening to you.”  And that’s all that’s happening with this committee.  The people have been getting noisy about the issue, so the Council majority is letting them have their committee just so they can say they “considered” the options.  Throw the dog a bone.  And then they’ll shoot it down, just as sure as you’re born.

It’s a pity and a shame, really.  Good, sincere members of the community are coming together to try to do something constructive, and it’s all going to be a waste of their time.  This is nothing more than a cynical political ploy, as disrespectful as anything I’ve seen yet from this Council.  I pray that I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to admit it if I am.  But judging by this council’s past and present actions, attitudes, obvious biases, and utter disregard for the will of their constituents, I’m afraid that this is a foregone conclusion.

Time will tell.

And as for Tonya’s letter, you don’t even have to read between the lines.  Judge for yourself:

“I apologize for the delay in responding to your email about Pioneer Hall and the Community Center. As you probably know, the City Council approved holding off on contracting with an engineering firm to start the process on the two buildings and has instructed our City Manager to move forward with the process of developing an Ad Hoc Committee of local volunteers with particular expertise in rehabilitating historic buildings to determine whether less expensive alternatives might exist for Council consideration. 

I supported that motion because we finally had a group of people who stepped forward to lend a hand to this effort. Prior to this time, we heard that some Ashland residents were sure something else could be figured out for less money, but that group of knowledgeable local contractors had not materialized. The good work of Councilors Moran and Seffinger has brought that team together and I’m happy to support this option in the hope that it will result in a less expensive retrofit and a strengthened community spirit. 

We will need to ensure, however, that these rehabilitation projects do the jobs we need them to do. While both are required because of structural issues, they both also have older mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that may need to be addressed – if so, it is often cheaper and better to do them all at once. We also have ambitious climate goals and making sure that our municipal buildings are energy efficient is an important part of reaching those goals. 

I am excited to see what this ad hoc committee brings back to Council. Given that COVID-19 looks to be easing up, Ashlanders will be looking for places to gather, so the sooner we get both buildings operational, the better. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 

All the best, Tonya Graham, Ashland City Councilor

Dean Silver, Ashland

//inserted by Sharon