Gazette letter policy redux
Posted On: 7/7/16
One might suppose that we asked for it, when we ran a letter to the editor harshly criticizing statements made by one candidate at a forum for the then 12 candidates seeking a seat on the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors. The policy of the paper has been not to publish denouncements or endorsements of candidates, because it undoubtedly would lead to a deluge of similar letters or letter-writing campaigns orchestrated by foes and supporters of those seeking a post on the volunteer board. In this instance, however, we elected to publish a letter castigating candidate Pat Supik for her remarks at the forum, as we decided that anything said in a public arena is fair game for public comment. It is not the job of the paper, after all, to protect candidates from their critics. To do so would stifle public debate of matters that Ocean Pines residents, or some of them anyway, believe are of critical importance. What we do strive to do, however, is to be fair. Consequently, a lette...» Click here for the full story.
Much ado about ballots
Posted On: 6/30/16
Ocean Pines Board of Director member Cheryl Jacobs has a good point: an elections committee gathered for the sole purpose of counting ballots does not constitute a meeting in any legal sense. The committee isn’t empowered to take any action other than to assure ballots are valid and to count them. It does nothing beyond those two functions, so there is no meeting according to the law. Committee members have rightly taken umbrage at the suggestion, however faintly whispered, that this closed-door process opens another door to election rigging or some other nefarious scheme. Even the mention of that possibility questions the integrity of each individual who volunteered for the job and would be considered by just about anyone as a personal affront. In fairness, we wondered as well why the ballot counting should be closed until Jacobs offered her opinion to the contrary. That prompted the realization that ballot counting in municipalities is closed to the public, as is allowed b...» Click here for the full story.
Sky not falling in Pines
Posted On: 6/23/16
Ocean Pines residents rest easy — the community is not collapsing into a black hole of despair and destruction. Yet, to listen to the comments of some of the candidates for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors, one might easily come to that conclusion. Contrary to what people might think, or say, Ocean Pines is not the laughingstock of this or any other area. Were that the case, the real estate market there would have imploded long ago and people would be fleeing for … where exactly? That’s the point. There is no place that doesn’t have its problems, many of which far exceed the nature of any difficulty that Ocean Pines might experience. The relative absence of crime comes to mind. And there are trees, safe streets, pools, clubs, and quiet. Lots of quiet. Trade that, for instance, for a place in Salisbury. Ocean City is a nice place to live, but then there is the business of sharing it with a couple of hundred thousand visitors every year and the ...» Click here for the full story.
Voting for boating goating
Posted On: 6/16/16
As turbulent and divisive as the national circumstance is these days, it’s nice to see a healthy appreciation of silliness still exists. That would be in reference to, of course, the idea that goats — they’re not just for lawn maintenance anymore — could be a vital ingredient in the economic resurgence of the Town of Snow Hill. Yes, by establishing a small population of capra aegagrus hircus, or pygmy goats, on the Pocomoke River’s Goat Island and reworking it into a park-like setting, the town’s ever-creative economic development people believe this might become something of a tourist attraction. It’s just different enough to draw more attention to a town that needs it. Ocean City, after all, may be the “White Marlin Capital of the Word,” but it doesn’t have any you can pet. Silly ideas also can grow into something much more. “Punkin Chunkin’” up in Delaware, for instance, did not start out as anything m...» Click here for the full story.
No comp plan for Pines
Posted On: 6/9/16
For all the discussion of how to create a comprehensive plan for the Ocean Pines Association, the critical point that most people seem to miss is that the homeowners association doesn’t need one. Maybe OPA officials are just using the wrong label for what they really want, which would be a decision-guiding vision statement that reflects the opinions of a majority of property owners, not unlike the strategic plan that Ocean City created for itself three years ago. The purpose of that particular document was to recognize in writing the resort’s priorities and objectives, along with actions that might be taken to achieve them. That’s much different from a comprehensive plan, which is mostly about land use and development, and which is already addressed in Ocean Pines’ covenants, restrictions and bylaws. A strategic plan also is easier to do, since it’s based almost entirely on public opinion and, unlike a comprehensive plan, does not obligate anyone to do...» Click here for the full story.
Cheers to Church Mouse
Posted On: 6/2/16
Fifty years of helping people is a rare thing, even among the largest of organizations, but when it’s the smallest of enterprises that itself depends on the public for help, it’s exceptional. That’s why praise for the Church Mouse Thrift Shop at a short ceremony marking its half-century of service last week in Berlin was unquestionably sincere. The congratulatory speeches offered just plain heartfelt thanks, instead of the platitudes and routinely issued hurrahs that are often heard at such affairs. At a time when so many people disagree with each other, often to the extreme, it’s comforting to know that good work, selflessly pursued, still means something to just about everyone. An extension of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Church Mouse, long under the guidance of early volunteers Annabelle Hastings and Ruth Neville, and for the last 10 years Helen Wiley, grew into more than a successful charity to become a community institution. That’s a sp...» Click here for the full story.
A word on our letter policy
Posted On: 5/26/16
Now that election season has begun in Ocean Pines, candidates, their supporters and their detractors should be aware of how the letters to the editor policies work at this paper. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but a number of people over the years have been irked when the letters they sent for publication inexplicably never made it into print. Well, maybe not inexplicably. The paper publishes its letters policy before every election and has been doing that for years. It all stems from a campaign incident, when our papers were flooded with dozens of similarly written letters from residents endorsing a particular candidate. Suspecting a political game was afoot to monopolize our letters space, none of those letters ran and the policy was developed that no letters endorsing or criticizing any candidate would be run in these papers. This doesn’t mean that issues can’t be discussed in this space, or that observations can’t be made or that criticisms canR...» Click here for the full story.
Snow Hill fourth grader good example to all of us
Posted On: 5/19/16
Ellie Black, the Snow Hill fourth grader whose Little Library project at Byrd Park has been vandalized repeatedly, is learning a valuable lesson: some people take pride in being mean and stupid. Ellies’s Little Library is a small outdoors installation that holds a few books that anyone can borrow and return. It’s a kind and gentle effort to provide for those who wish to read and learn, but don’t have the opportunity. Obviously, not everyone appreciates the value of those pursuits. Sometimes they grow out of it — this assumes the vandals are relatively young — and sometimes they go on to become regular contributors to the comments sections on social media, where they continue to be idiots anonymously and revel in the response. It’s apparently a perverse attempt to involve themselves in society, because being limited by either the absence of intelligence or the desire to improve whatever degree of that they do have, they resort to outrageous behavio...» Click here for the full story.
Snow Hill free Wi-Fi delayed
Posted On: 5/12/16
Things happen. Or, to put it another way, the road to free Wi-Fi in Snow Hill has been paved, but remains a few weeks away from handling traffic. Frustrating as it may be, the delay in the installation of the required equipment isn’t Comcast’s fault. It could hardly anticipate the surge it would see in customers because of the labor dispute between Communications Workers of America union and Verizon. The strikers work with the company’s landline phone and DSL Internet operations, which have seen declining sales because of the growth of wireless communications and Verizon’s FiOS high-speed Internet. FiOS is not available in this area. As a result of the strike, second-home owners returning to the resort area are unable to have their Verizon DSL service reconnected and are turning to Comcast instead. In short, Comcast has more work than it expected this time of year. Still, it promises to have the Snow Hill system running by the end of the month. Hopefully, th...» Click here for the full story.
A full slate in Ocean Pines
Posted On: 5/12/16
Twelve candidates? That could happen in the Ocean Pines board election this year, according to sources familiar with the candidate vetting process. That many candidates vying for just three seats should give property owners the opportunity to do what’s best for the community, assuming that no axe grinding or personal agendas get in the way. Voters should consider not just who wants to do a good job, but who is capable of doing it, has the right temperament and who has the ability to consider points of view that may conflict with his or her own.» Click here for the full story.