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Berlin, MD 21811
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Editorial

Editorial - Articles


Let’s change the subject

Posted On: 8/17/17
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The inclination to veer away from angry circumstances and volatile topics is strong this week and therefore lands us in Berlin, where, if all is far from perfect, its officials and residents at least continue to strive for a rare level of community harmony and attractiveness. And what could be more harmonious than an excellent bike path or two connecting various parts of town. The establishment of plans for one to run from the Berlin Falls park to downtown and the consideration of another for the east side of town are not what anyone would call culturally or industrially pivotal projects. Yet, they represent the town’s continuing commitment to do the little things where and when it can to make life more enjoyable for everyone. Even though these are small steps, they join any number of other improvements that also wouldn’t register on Richter scale of wondrous developments to form an increasingly attractive package that has been built layer by layer. More significantly, ...
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Waiting on transparency

Posted On: 8/10/17
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The core issue in Ocean Pines isn’t really one of nondisclosures, questionable decisions or projects that have gone awry, but one of trust. Early on, many on the board made a pact to close ranks, deter comments to the media and show blind loyalty to one another. However, as happens when information, both good and bad, is not communicated, that approach caused suspicion, rumor and an overall cynicism by the community at large. By taking cover in too many closed meetings, hoping issues of concern would just go away and creating diversion by blaming those who speak out, it made the community wonder what there is to hide, as it is human nature to be wary when direct, honest communication is lacking. A better approach would have been to disclose any possible conflicts of interests upfront, even if there is no requirement to do so, and to provide clear, complete information on changes big and small that impact the community, along with the reasoning behind those decisions. A new ...
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Miller became a symbol

Posted On: 8/3/17
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The board of directors’ skirmish this week over an attempt to remove Gary Miller from his assignments on the clubs and aquatics committees is the product of the turmoil that has enveloped the board in recent months. Ordinarily, no one would blame any elected body for removing one of its appointees after he or she publicly attacked its decisions and strategies. In the business world, First Amendment or no, that’s a firing offense and the same principle applies in government, as the current national situation has repeatedly demonstrated. While Mr. Miller’s frustrations with aspects of the Ocean Pines Association’s operations are understandable — especially as he witnessed the frenzied comings and goings of clubs division employees — he remains accountable to the people who gave him the advisory post. When an advisor turns against the advisees, well, unpleasant things generally happen. Considering that, the board’s disagreement Friday had les...
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Voters’ buyer’s remorse

Posted On: 7/27/17
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 Not to be redundant, as we seem to write a similar editorial each year going into Ocean Pines elections, but it is always with the hope the incoming board members will remember their campaign promises once they take their seats at the table. Elections of late, unfortunately, have brought a winner-take-all philosophy. Sides are drawn and those who oppose or question any issue being debated are immediately accused of making an attack or having a personal agenda. All the promises made last year sounded great to voters, who elected candidates who campaigned for greater transparency, increased community input, a desire for independent thinking, and more cordial dealings with one another. This past year, however, brought more behind-closed-doors meetings with little other than accusations made public, scant input considered from the many community committees whose role now seems all but marginalized, and in-fighting like elementary school-age gangs protecting their turf. Propert...
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Hill can take it or resign

Posted On: 7/20/17
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Were it not for its potential to inflict harm on the community, one might excuse the laughable nature of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors’ possible vote on whether to expel one of its members. The directors, after all, aren’t debating nuclear disarmament or the ability of North Korea to strike American soil, but the somewhat less weighty matter of how to govern a mid-sized community. They ought to be embarrassed, but probably won’t be because of the self-importance that sometimes attaches to elected officials, who then believe the public won’t, doesn’t and can’t understand. As it is, the decision whether Director Slobodan Trendic should be removed from the board for alleged breaches of confidentiality and meddling should not take place for one indisputable reason: the huge conflict of interest on the part of his chief accuser, interim general manager and Director Brett Hill. He has no business voting, much less making the motion to ...
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OPA fatigue contagious

Posted On: 7/13/17
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Ocean Pines is exhausting. It’s exhausting, as a news outlet, to cover, and this week the majority of the Board of Directors indicated it’s exhausting to govern. Imagine how the homeowners and residents must feel. At a Sunday public meeting during what was otherwise a picturesque and sunny beach day, interim General Manager Brett Hill, the board president and vice president essentially said two other directors were engaged in a conspiracy to undermine Hill. Two other directors, countering that Hill was creating chaos among his employees, fought to install a local human resources consultant to deal with what they said were a multitude of complaints. Those aforementioned men and women involved in the contentious debate, accounting for five of the seven people who govern Ocean Pines, sparred for nearly two hours and engaged in numerous personal attacks, but never came to a consensus on what should be done to correct the problems. At one point, Director Slobodan Trendic ...
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Where is BOD oversight?

Posted On: 7/6/17
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One must wonder why many on the Ocean Pines Board of Directors have taken the posture of sitting back and taking little action while Acting General Manager Brett Hill makes many changes typically not within the scope of a board member temporarily in that role. The board, and Hill for stepping up to take the lead, can be commended on taking quick steps to improve ambience at the Yacht Club, getting bridge repairs done in quick order, renovating the Country Club, which had been left in disrepair, and moving to repair unkempt properties, but there were many other changes that would have been best left until a new general manager was in place. The positive steps taken by the board have become overshadowed by more than a few controversial decisions, seemingly made without the full board being made aware. Wholesale changes to personnel have left food and beverage at Mumford’s Landing and many of the pools in complete disarray, leading to a troubling financial picture going into the s...
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Advantages to annexation

Posted On: 6/29/17
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When a town annexes property adjacent to its borders, it isn’t always about expanding its tax base, encouraging commercial or residential growth, or seeking change in the nature of the community. In many instances, these things might be factors in deciding to bring swaths of property into the municipal embrace, but towns also pursue annexations for the opposite reason: to protect the nature of the community. That, as Berlin Planning Commission member Pete Cosby observed during the most recent session of that body, is a major consideration in the town’s early contemplations of whether the town limits should be extended to include the Gerardi property on the western end of Route 346 and Route 50. The frequently overlooked advantage of annexation is that it gives communities more control over how a property is developed. More than one community on this peninsula will bear witness to that fact, as they helplessly watched rapid growth erupt on their perimeters just beyond the...
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Something smells fishy

Posted On: 6/22/17
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The news release from the Ocean Pines Association said the board of directors “worked collectively” to solve an undisclosed problem and met in closed session “to collaborate as a team.” Neither of these statements, vetted as they must have been by the association leadership, is true. As was demonstrated Monday night, when the directors voted 5-2 to go behind closed doors to discuss some secret situation, any teamwork or collaboration was the work of some directors to keep other directors in the dark. How else can it be explained when one group of directors consulted an attorney about this unspecified circumstance without telling the others? That’s not a representative government, that’s a clique, whose you-didn’t-need-to-know response to that very question says, “we’re in charge, and you’re not.” This much is obvious, based on the comments in the public session: an employee or employees bypassed their immediate supe...
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Believe in Berlin business

Posted On: 6/15/17
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It’s good to know that Berlin’s Main Street area has become so highly regarded as a place to do business. It hasn’t been that many years, after all, that town officials had to recruit various enterprises to fill in the blanks in what was then just a vision of how the downtown should look. When we say “not that many years,” that would be within the last 10 or so that the push to create a vigorous downtown shopping dynamic has taken place. And, now, it has reached a point where shopkeepers are expanding their hours, not just in the hope of catching the additional customer or two, but because the volume of business demands it. With all the positive stories being reported by both long-time occupants of and new arrivals to the town center, it’s apparent that the town has become its own tourist destination, which doesn’t need a rainy day in Ocean City to draw visitors. If someone a decade ago had said this kind of prosperity was achievable in such...
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