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.
There’s no perfect time
Posted On: 7/21/16
The pursuit of a good idea is often delayed by the belief that waiting a little longer could result in something better, even when that something better has yet to be defined. Many a solid project has languished or faded away because of that inaction, as decision makers wait hopefully for the perfect solution to manifest itself. That assumes, of course, that everyone would recognize an undisputed winner if it did materialize. That’s why Snow Hill town officials did the right thing when they agreed to a deal with Richard and Debbie Seaton that will bring their shop, Toy Town, to the empty building on the corner of Market and Washington Streets. While some might contend that the Seatons are getting a sweetheart arrangement, the fact is they have committed to quite an undertaking, as they will be responsible for major — and expensive —renovations and upgrades to a structure that has been vacant for 30 years. Besides, no matter what anyone says, no one gets anything f...» Click here for the full story.
One-note harping tone-deaf
Posted On: 7/14/16
Ocean Pines residents, and voters in particular, are more fortunate than they realize: while other towns, communities and even hamlets have multiple issues with which to deal, Ocean Pines apparently has just one: the general manager. That would be judging from comments at a recent candidate’s forum, where it was asserted that every problem could be fixed, every question could be answered and every needed improvement could be accomplished by making just one personnel move. Other communities, by contrast, have to slog through myriad meetings, discussions and strategy sessions to find way to address multiple unrelated issues. But not in Ocean Pines, where the simple act of firing General Manager Bob Thompson will take care of everything. Or so some have suggested. The simplistic nature of this argument, however, suggests that these candidates are so focused on dumping Thompson that either they haven’t thought about other matters relevant to Pines voters or they have a lim...» Click here for the full story.
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.