On election endorsements
Posted On: 9/29/16
Endorsing Berlin Mayor Gee Williams for reelection is an easy call, given the burst of vitality the town has experienced during his tenure. Although the town had begun moving in the right direction before he took office in 2008, it was during the past eight years that Berlin completed one of the most stunning economic turnarounds of any town on the Eastern Shore. Years ago, Berlin had lapsed into a town that travelers passed by on the way to the beach, now it’s a destination. A great deal of that is the result of William’s creative energy and his ability to convince others to embrace his vision of a socially and economically vibrant community that offers something for everyone. Although some might argue that the town has progressed enough, there is no such thing as a successful community that simply maintains what it has. It either goes forward or backward, but never stays the same. We like going forward, wisely, and endorse Williams to continue that course. Endorseme...» Click here for the full story.
State, money made mess
Posted On: 9/22/16
Anyone who is surprised by this week’s court challenge to the state’s award of medical marijuana growing permits last month has forgotten one of the principles of the legalized pot industry: it’s about the money. High-minded motives (no pun intended), public opinion, political realities and medical research aside, the essence of the lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court Monday by GTI Maryland against the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission is about who is in line to get the big money and how they got there. Shore Natural RX, which received preliminary approval from the commission to grow marijuana in Worcester County still has to survive what the state calls a rigorous inspection of its production plans. It must now also deal with the revelation that it apparently got bumped up in the state’s rankings to ensure that this region got its share of this new industry’s revenue. According to multiple newspaper reports, Shore Natural RX finished wel...» Click here for the full story.
Onus now on OPA board
Posted On: 9/15/16
The Ocean Pines Board of Directors gave itself something last week that most politicians would rather not have: full responsibility for delivering on its members’ campaign promises. By elevating Doug Parks to the board because his thinking matched their own, the four-member majority that voted him into office has an unbeatable caucus that should be able to implement all the changes its members called for before and during last month’s election. Previously, when certain operations didn’t do well or decisions were delayed, former General Manager Bob Thompson or the usual divisiveness on the board could be blamed for the lack of progress. Not anymore, as this board finally got exactly what some members have sought for years, which is the ability to pursue its own agenda however it sees fit. In their defense of Parks, members asserted that even though he finished ninth in the 11-person race, he was the better choice than fourth-place finisher Frank Daly, because Park&...» Click here for the full story.
Schools would be impacted
Posted On: 9/8/16
Mainland residents of Worcester County should pay close attention to the tax differential discussions that will take place, again, this fall and winter between the Town of Ocean City and the Worcester County Commissioners. In essence, the differential, which Ocean City has been seeking for years, involves reducing the county property tax rate for Ocean City taxpayers to reflect county services they pay for with their tax dollars, but don’t use because resort government also provides them. One example of this duplication of services would be parks and recreation. Although the county’s facilities are available to everyone, Ocean City has its own and residents rarely cross the bay to use what the county provides. A part of Ocean City officials’ push for the split tax rate is their pledge to take their request for a differential to the General Assembly if the county doesn’t accede to their wishes. Either way, the problem for mainland residents is that they will ...» Click here for the full story.
Board showed disrespect
Posted On: 9/1/16
Let’s take a breath and reflect on how the dismissal of Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson last week will affect the community’s property owners, who are, after all, the real stakeholders in this mess. How about not at all? Unless some unusually bizarre twist takes place — and no jokes about how bizarre that would have to be to qualify as “unusual” — property owners will experience about as much change as they did when Thompson took over for GM Tom Olson in 2010. Back then, Olson had been expected to work toward making the association’s amenities profitable. That didn’t happen, he was let go and life went on. Thompson was brought in to do the things that Olson didn’t or couldn’t do and that, apparently, didn’t happen either. Life will go on in this case as well. Community association managers, like city managers and county administrators, come and go relatively quickly in the scheme of things, and ra...» Click here for the full story.
Always follow the money
Posted On: 8/25/16
It’s always about the money. The absence of a physician in Snow Hill, a doctor shortage nationally or not, is the result of a potential patient base that’s too small to allow a full-time doctor’s office or clinic to break even given the cost of health care these days. It’s a shame, but the emergence of institutionalized health care delivery in the past two decades — hospitals are no longer just hospitals but are the hubs of larger medical networks — has made the independent practitioner all but extinct. The cost is just too prohibitive, and the virtues many people ascribe to general practice physicians, such as selflessness and dedication to the community, come in second to their need to pay off exorbitant medical school costs and, eventually, to make a decent living. That’s why most doctors around the country now sign up for salaried jobs with medical systems, which also happen to have the resources to handle the mountain of paperwork that&...» Click here for the full story.
Congratulations to the newly elected OPA board
Posted On: 8/18/16
Fresh off the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors elected come the pledges from the new members to change the way the board conducts business by bringing greater degree of civility to the board’s discussions. This isn’t a new promise, as virtually no one goes into office anywhere saying he or she intends to be a disruptive, take-no-prisoners flamethrower. This isn’t a situation peculiar to Ocean Pines, but is a national development that seems to subscribe to the philosophy that volume and repetition, not facts, logic or common sense, are the most important factors in winning a debate. In other words, if someone says something loud enough and frequently enough anything anyone else might say can’t be true. The new members of the board certainly seem like reasonable people who are capable of avoiding the usual head-butting when opinions differ and the vote appears to be headed in a direction they can’t support. The key, of course, is to stick to ...» Click here for the full story.
Discuss issues in public
Posted On: 8/11/16
This paper took some criticism this past week for publishing an article regarding Berlin Councilwoman Lisa Hall’s remarks to our reporter while in the midst of a taped interview on an unrelated topic. Some felt that her remarks should have been considered off the record as Hall has personally suffered a difficult year. Unfortunately as a public official there is no automatic pass for that when serious accusations are put forth of other public officials. While Hall may prefer those accusations to be shared behind the scenes with neighbors, friends and other townsfolk willing to listen, there was a time and place for her to air any concerns she may have had. Hall, as claimed in her remarks, was under no duress to remain publically silent if she legitimately felt others were operating corruptly. Moreover, Hall had a responsibility to the citizens of Berlin to act by going on public record at the Town Council meeting. She could have asked the town’s attorney, David Gaskill,...» Click here for the full story.
Don’t blame messengers
Posted On: 8/4/16
Nothing rankles someone who is pledged to impartiality more than the suggestion that he or she is not. It’s no wonder then that Bill Wentworth and associates on the Ocean Pines Elections Committee have just about had it with this year’s political carryings on and have declared that this might be the end of their service as election management volunteers. No matter what anyone says, the demand for transparent ballot counting suggests that committee members are suspect in terms of honesty, integrity and impartiality. It’s not just politics, in their minds anyway, it’s a personal affront. This is not to say that closed-door ballot counting is right or wrong, but it does explain why elections officials feel they are under siege and have reacted accordingly. As it is, and as we have mentioned before, Maryland election law has specific rules regarding who may observe what during the process and when they may do it. More importantly, elections officials can have ej...» Click here for the full story.
Mending fences right call
Posted On: 7/28/16
The town of Berlin had one other option it could have pursued this week instead of dipping into the treasury to pay for the construction of a fence and a walking trail between unhappy neighbors. It could have done nothing, but said otherwise. That’s what governments often do when they have little authority to intervene in an argument over the unforeseen consequences of their own actions: insist their hands are legally tied, but vow to negotiate a deal that, more often than not, never quite works out. This politically expedient angle shows government doing something when it really isn’t. In this case, as Flower Street residents ask for some separation between their properties and the Cannery Village project that abuts their backyards, the town took the direct route and dealt with the problem. The essence of the issue was that the residents had no actual control over what was built next door, while Cannery Village did what local government gave it permission to do, ...» Click here for the full story.