‘5-year’ plan feels slushy
Posted On: 2/12/15
The Ocean Pines board should reconsider its stance on continuing the so-called 5-year funding plan until a proposal for those monies is in place and put to referendum. The special assessment was instituted about six years ago and billed as a short-term increase that would be dissolved after that timeframe. The intent was to bolster reserves, with a number of the association’s facilities having been neglected and in-need of replacement or significant repair. Despite protests that implementing such a plan would cause future boards to hope members had short-term memories and be continued into eternity, the board was emphatic that this would not be the case. It was also promised in short order that a working plan for use of the added reserve funding would be put together. This was sometimes referred to as a “rack-and-stack” of expected projects. To date no real plan has been put forth and the bulk, if not the entire amount, has been used for the new Yacht Club....» Click here for the full story.
Media could learn lesson
Posted On: 2/5/15
Recent events in Berlin made for big headlines with an ensuing rush to get a “big story” pressing a daily media outlet go awry. An example of why rash decisions by both adults and kids can have unfortunate consequences. The firestorm kicked off with an unseemly posting by one student on Instagram, quickly followed by a couple of other incidents, none related or normally newsworthy. A scuffle in the hallways of the high school followed the next day off-campus by two students deciding to settle a dispute with their fists, a fact of life since the dawn of time, were all portrayed as indication of racial upheaval simply because those involved are of different color. Later spray-painted damage caused by a couple of troubled and bored kids became news only due to the extensive nature of it, not an indication of the town’s youth gone wild. The media’s role is to provide news and information, not make it, without succumbing to internal or external pressure ...» Click here for the full story.
Vandals and vandalism will soon be forgotten
Posted On: 1/29/15
As disturbing as it was, people shouldn’t read too much into the vandalism spree that ruined cars and defaced buildings in Berlin last week. This was not the result of a societal upheaval or the emergence of a hate group that threatens to grow and develop, but was the work of one or more young idiots with nothing better to do than to express their frustration with their own stupidity. That’s about it. These are marginal people who don’t want to be, but have no way to excel and gain notice other than to do something that will get the town talking. Of course, because the perpetrators remain anonymous – for the moment – any satisfaction they might have derived from their action will be short-lived, because they will, as individuals, still remain unnoticed. What is the point, after all, of doing something to get noticed when, by virtue of remaining nameless, it can’t happen? If someone were truly tough and wanted to be known for it, the thing to do ...» Click here for the full story.
A better way to look at community’s budget
Posted On: 1/22/15
The goal of any government or homeowner’s association is to give the public the kind of community it wants at a cost it is willing to pay. Establishing the cost factor is the easier of the two to accomplish, because it’s just math, aided by a good read of the public’s mood. Much more difficult is defining what members of any community really want, because many people don’t think beyond their tax or assessment bills. As a result, budget discussions all too often turn to this or that department, operation, division or amenity losing money. That’s not how it should work. Accepting that reasonable limits have to be set and that blatant waste and over-spending is both irresponsible and dangerous, some so-called losses must be absorbed to give people the kind of community they desire. There is the Ocean Pines golf course, for instance, which has lost a great deal of money in the past few years, but now appears to be on the upswing financially. The first que...» Click here for the full story.
Waiting for real set of design standards
Posted On: 1/15/15
It is not the people who are serving who need to be considered when granting a government body the authority to impose subjective standards, it is the people who might serve in the years ahead. That is the situation with the town’s proposed amendment to the zoning code giving the Planning Commission the legal right to require new commercial buildings to meet design criteria that reflect the town’s image. Although there is no argument that the code ought to make legal what the commission has been doing anyway, with the cooperation of businesses, it is difficult to embrace the entire program without knowing exactly what it will entail. Mayor Gee Williams believes, for instance, that architectural standards as applied to development beyond downtown should ensure that the appearance of projects compliments the architecture of the town, but not necessarily mimics it. That’s fine, but the code doesn’t say that, yet, which is why he and the council majority want th...» Click here for the full story.
Don’t criticize park idea at this juncture
Posted On: 1/8/15
Raising the alarm based on first impressions and perceived, but not necessarily real, problems generally accomplishes little, because the critical outburst is usually the result of instinct rather than solid information. That’s the case with the Town of Berlin’s proposed purchase of the former Tyson poultry plant. The operative word here is “proposed,” because nowhere in the town’s announcement was it ever said that this is a done deal. What town officials did say was that they had made a $25,000 down payment that is refundable if it turns out that their vision of turning the plant property into a multi-use park facility isn’t feasible. That most significant aspect of this consideration, obviously, is whether the town can do what it wants to do without burdening residents financially. That’s something that town officials don’t want to do from both a political and practical perspective, considering that it took years to clean up the to...» Click here for the full story.
Traveling light into another new year
Posted On: 1/1/15
Two thousand fourteen, 2014 or MMXIV. No matter how we might write it, it still comes out the same. The results are in and no matter what we think of the 12 months past, 2014 is over and out. There are, of course, all kinds of years besides this one – fiscal years, legislative years, religious years, academic years and other kinds of astronomical years – but the Gregorian calendar that most of us follow in our everyday lives gives us the opportunity to believe in a fresh start. Obviously, that was not the intent of the scholars who, under the authority of Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, refined the solar calendar developed by Julius Caesar many centuries earlier. What they were trying to do – and this is a gross simplification – was to establish more firmly when Easter should be celebrated. Still it’s nice to think of each new year as a clean slate of sorts or something of a do-over as we ponder mistakes that we vow not to repeat and pledge to build on the g...» Click here for the full story.
Ehrlich: I’m just looking, thanks
Posted On: 12/11/14
Written By: C. Fraser Smith, The Daily Record Newswire
(Dec. 11, 2014) He won’t do it. You read it here first. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is having fun — with us and with himself, right? He’s made a couple of trips to New Hampshire. People are polite to him. The group he meets with likes his message: loves the Constitution, hates Obamacare, hails the tea party. Gee, wonder what side of the political spectrum he’d be on? Don’t get excited. He’s not running for president. He’s too into his kids. Their sports, their lives, their need for a father. Running is too hard. It takes time. You have to be on the road a lot. So what’s he doing? A few thoughts from a relatively small spectrum of well-informed sources. A Republican: - Watching Larry Hogan win was probably a bittersweet pill to swallow. He’d been telling people that he, Ehrlich, was the last GOP governor Maryland would ever have. - He wasn’t ready for his career to end when it did and is now looking for different pat...» Click here for the full story.
Gas price comparison certainly worth a look
Posted On: 12/4/14
Unless there’s something we’re missing, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors is on the mark about the community’s price schedule for propane not adding up … or adding up to much more than it needs to be. As board member Marty Clarke observed, no superior math skills are required to see the difference between the $2.96-per-gallon charge the OPA is paying Sandpiper and the $2.09 quote from another company. Moreover, that $2.09 isn’t even the commercial rate, according to Clarke, who quoted the competing company’s rep as saying it could charge significantly less than that. Undoubtedly, there must be any number of reasons for that huge price variance between Sandpiper and other suppliers, including the expense of maintaining its infrastructure. It’s also would seem that there has to be more involved than one company simply charging more than the other. That, however, is what General Manager Bob Thompson is charged with finding out, as...» Click here for the full story.
Berlin thankful for ... it’s a long, long list
Posted On: 11/27/14
To say the Town of Berlin has something it ought to be thankful for this year would be a gross understatement. By any measure, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the town has had a magical year and that the food on the Berlin’s table Thursday would likely grow cold were it to enumerate all its blessings. The highlight, of course, is the “Coolest Town” award, which led to the recent state recognition for the social media campaign that made that designation happen. But something subtler is taking place as well, as more people are drawn to Berlin because of its growing reputation as a great place to be. Evidence of that will be apparent during Friday’s Holiday Arts Night, which brings hundreds of people – and maybe more than that – from the area not just to shop, but also to experience the event and the atmosphere. How many small communities, after all, will have a giant ice sculpture taking shape in the center of town as part of the holi...» Click here for the full story.