In defense of our fair city

An unflattering view of a newspaper editorial board goes something like this: The editorial board sits atop a hill and watches the battle rage below. When the battle ends, the editorial writers ride down and shoot the wounded.

OK, there may be some truth to that, but today we prefer to ride down from that hill to defend rather than attack. Our defense follows the publication of a letter to the editor in this newspaper's Friday edition. In that letter, titled "Medford still dysfunctional," writer Jackie Reed informs us that she and her family have had it with our fair city and are leaving town after 20 years.

She contends that Medford is a city with great but unfulfilled potential and goes on to claim "the schools are a mess," "road planning is a joke," governments are controlled by "good ol' boys," and housing prices are "ridiculous." There's more: "Drugs, gangs, poor drivers, obesity, poor work ethics, fast food and car lots galore. Support for Super Wal-Marts and numerous Walgreens, but not a natural foods co-op.

"Sadly, Medford is dysfunctional and probably always will be."

So, Jackie, tell us how you really feel.

Her letter raised eyebrows and ire around the city, with many rising to Medford's defense. We join in that defense:

Perhaps we're wearing rose-colored glasses, but we see much to be proud of. We live in a community that is in the midst of building a massive sports park, largely for its kids to use. We live in a community that is about to undergo a major revitalization of its downtown — which comes on top of years of urban renewal improvements. We live in a community in which you can get up on a weekend morning and decide whether you want to go skiing or golfing that day.

Sure there's crime, but the city is still ranked as one of the safest places in the country to live. Yes, there are drugs, but a communitywide coalition has risen up to take on the threat.

Even in the negatives, there are positives. The Medford School District has been under fire for its handling of a bond measure, but we should not forget to celebrate that school district voters agreed to pay $189 million to fix our schools for our kids. Our libraries may be open on shortened hours, but we have 15 new library buildings approved by voters.

Housing prices are expensive here (less so than a year ago) because people want to live in a place that has so much to offer. That popularity has crowded our streets and highways, but we are in the midst of numerous major road projects — and, frankly, our traffic problems are scarcely worth noting in comparison to larger cities.

The "good ol' boys" who run this city are volunteers and include an optometrist, a bank teller, a former homeless man and a historical publications editor. Any form of government has its shortcomings, but as far as we can see, the payoff to the "good ol' boys" on the City Council comes mostly in the form of attending a lot of long meetings trying to make their community a better place.

It's easy to tear down any community and much harder to work at building it up. That hard work is being done every day in Medford by volunteers, community leaders, businesspeople, teachers, government officials, neighbors and a host of citizens who have no intention of packing up and leaving the job unfinished.

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