Ocean City Council member Doug Cymek recently expressed concern about leaks coming out of discussions that took place during the council’s secret meetings. According to the councilman, "there are some people on this council who believe that the public should know everything that is going on at all times."
My response to Councilman Cymek’s concern is that the council should follow the Supreme Court’s ruling that found "sunshine is the best disinfectant. Ocean City taxpayers have a right to know all factors, not just vague summary statements that the council uses in making its decisions. In my view, many secret meetings are held to keep the public from learning information that, if it was made public, could be embarrassing to the council.
For example, when an agenda item is pulled from the council’s public meeting, it could mean the council has discussed the item in a secret session and is trying to figure out how to disclose the matter in a way that does not make it look like the council failed to carry out its duties.
According to Councilman Cymek, he would like to see any council member that leaks information from a secret council meeting to be given a hearing before the ethics board for possible impeachment. Councilman Cymek’s concern would be more creditable if he also believed that a council member who voted for a secret meeting would be subject to impeachment by the ethics board if the State of Maryland Open Meetings Committee finds, as it has done in the past, that a secret meeting violated Maryland’s Open Meeting Law.
After all, the council members’ oath does contain requirements for the council members to uphold the laws of the State of Maryland and the town of Ocean City.
Worcester County Health Department and County Animal Control concluded the Fall 2009 Rabies Clinics this week at Stockton and Showell Fire Departments with large turnouts at each of these clinics. We are very pleased that a number of our citizens are taking the steps necessary to protect their pets from contracting this deadly disease, as we continue to experience high numbers of confirmed and probable rabid animals in the County with large numbers of pet contact. Including the special August clinic held on August 5 and the Spring Clinics in Snow Hill and Bishopville, we vaccinated a total of 983 animals this year. Although not intended to replace comprehensive veterinary care, these low-cost clinics can assist citizens in keeping their pets currently immunized against rabies, as required by law.
A successful clinic requires significant advance planning along with tremendous cooperation and hard work among all involved. I would like to recognize and thank our partners in making these clinics successful. First, I want to thank the Fire Companies of Bishopville, Stockton and Showell for allowing the use of their facilities and hosting the clinics. Their cooperation in providing this community service is greatly appreciated. Additionally, I want to thank Dr. William Schultz, veterinarian, and the staffs of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Animal Control, and the Health Department Environmental Health staff for facilitating these clinics.
Debbie Goeller, R.N., M.S.
(The writer is the health officer for the county.)
It appears that Berlin resident Elizabeth Fisher is being harassed for housing two hens and three ducks on her residential property in an enclosed dwelling close to her house. Although Ms. Fisher has been keeping these birds quietly and responsibly for the past two years, she now faces a legal judgment that could force her to have to move or surrender her birds.
This is a shame because Ms. Fisher’s birds are her pets. They are not "poultry" or "livestock," as she is neither breeding them nor making any money off them. On the contrary, she is providing permanently for their care and well-being.
I feel strongly about this in part because my organization, United Poultry Concerns, deals constantly with people giving up their animals, adding to the burden of animal control, shelters and sanctuaries, and contributing greatly to the suffering of animals. It is heartening to meet a conscientious person like Ms. Fisher, who is not contributing to animal suffering, pet overpopulation, or the burden of animal shelters. I hope the community and its law enforcement will see fit to allow her to keep her two hens and three ducks at home. There are far too many homeless and dispossessed creatures in the world already. Why add more?
(The writer is the president of the United Poultry Concerns.)
I want to take a minute to thank so many people who were so kind to me and my family during the loss of my husband, Bob Uhl, on Sept. 29.
God bless the medical team from Atlantic General and the staff in the hospital. Bob worked as the Atlantis Condo’s security guard and loved the owners and staff. They really spoiled him.
He loved St. Luke’s Church in Ocean City, loved the choir, loved being an usher and he was a bull in a china shop type. God bless Father Smith and staff. Jim Mathias, I did see your face in church even though the funeral was a blur. God bless our caring neighbors and God bless all the red knights. Thank you all for your kind words and prayers.
Marlene Uhl and family
(The following is a brief letter I sent to Michael Franklin, President and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital, in response to a column he wrote. I would like to share this with readers of The Dispatch.
I’m writing in response to your column in the Summer 09 On Call.
First, let me congratulate Atlantic General Hospital on the kinds of improvements you cite. Those are helpful steps in addressing the needs of people in our area for high quality, affordable care.
But I don’t understand why those kinds of steps are reasons "government" (by which I assume you mean our democratically elected representatives) shouldn’t undertake meaningful national health care reform.
No one denies that individual hospitals and practitioners often deliver excellent care (although there are of course some problems in poorly delivered care which lead to too much unnecessary illness).
But overall, as you must know and as repeated objective studies indicate, US health care falls down when compared to other industrialized nations, by delivering relatively mediocre care at the highest costs in the world.
You must know that:
— over 40 million Americans have no insurance, leading to both bad health outcomes and expensive cost shifting.
— even those with insurance repeatedly run into outrageous limits based on "preexisting conditions" and insurance company resistance to pay.
— those with insurance could easily lose if they change jobs or their employer changes policies.
— health problems are the leading cause of bankruptcy, which is growing in our country.
We can do better, which is why I salute our elected officials for addressing these real issues. Now is not the time to be defensive or ignore challenges, but to work together to solve them.
There have been some harsh and cruel things written about me in the last few weeks, some undeniably true, some undeniably wrong.
I do have an extensive record. I do have an issue with aggression, which I am addressing. I do have an issue with drugs and alcohol, which I am addressing. I’ve also been certified as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for the past 23 years. I’ve enhanced and advanced thousands of lives. I’ve won three bodybuilding competitions and I’ve boxed for Baltimore Boxing.
I’ve won chess tournaments from Alabama to Albany. I’ve sold my poetry to stores in Virginia Beach. I was also in the Who’s Who of American High School Basketball in 1982-1983. I’ve had superior successes and death-defying failures.
It’s because of the unconditional love of my Lord and savior and the woman who has stood by my side through my trials and errors that I have the strength and stamina to move forward into a more positive and reformed future. I’m okay with that, because I’m okay with me.
The 1st Annual Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley Fest on September 19 was a huge success.
The day was filled with Rev. Tindley’s music and other gospel songs as many area gospel groups, praise dancers and other performed. The Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley Fest Committee proudly thanks the following businesses and individuals who helped make this event a success: Chief Arnold Downing, the town of Berlin, Cannon-Chandler LLC, Cattail LLC, Donaway Service Company, Calvin B. Taylor Bank, PNC Bank, Bank of Ocean City, Berlin Shoebox, Purnell Moving and Hauling. Thanks to everyone who participated in the festival.
President, The Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley Fest Committee
Barbara Purnell, president Germantown School Community Heritage Center
(The following is a letter to the people of the Diocese of Wilmington, which includes the Catholic parishes of Worcester County, from the Most Rev. W Francis Malooly, Bishop of Wilmington)
I am today announcing that the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This is a painful decision, one that I had hoped and prayed I would never have to make. However, after careful consideration and after consultation with my close advisors and counselors, I believe we have no other choice, and that filing for Chapter 11 offers the best opportunity, given finite resources, to provide the fairest possible treatment of all victims of sexual abuse by priests of our Diocese.
Our hope is that Chapter 11 proceedings will enable us to fairly compensate all victims through a single process established by the Bankruptcy Court.It has always been my and my predecessor, Bishop Saltarelli’s, highest hope and fervent desire to settle all claims against the Diocese of Wilmington through a mediation process. Our past record as detailed in my May 7, 2009, letter outlines the number of past cases we have settled and the aggregate amount of money the Diocese has paid in settlements.
Some months ago, we petitioned the Superior Court to order an Alternative Dispute Resolution process so that a global, equitable settlement for all 142 claimants would be negotiated with the assistance of a court-appointed mediator. On October 6 the court ordered such an ADR process for all cases without long-standing trial dates. Thirty of the 131cases filed against the Diocese have been scheduled for trial, with a set of eight cases to begin trial on Monday, October 19.
As has been our policy, we were engaged in negotiations, with the assistance of a mediator, to settle these eight cases. These negotiations continued until today, but we were unable to achieve a settlement. Our concern throughout the negotiations was that too large a settlement with these eight victims would leave us with inadequate resources to fairly compensate the other 133 claimants, and continue our ministry. It is our obligation to ensure that all victims of abuse by our priests are fairly compensated, not just those fortunate enough to secure earlier trial dates.
The Chapter 11 filing is in no way intended to dodge responsibility for past criminal misconduct by clergy – or for mistakes made by Diocesan authorities. Nor does the bankruptcy process enable the Diocese to avoid or minimize its responsibility to victims of abuse. Instead, the Chapter 11 filing will enable the Diocese to meet its obligations head-on and fulfill its responsibility to all victims.
The Diocese of Wilmington is committed to pursuing the truth because truth heals. Three years ago Bishop Saltarelli, whom we buried here last week, released the names of 18 Diocesan priests who had admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated allegations of abuse of minors. It was one of the most detailed voluntary disclosures of its kind in the United States. In all of those cases, the Diocese shared information about abuse allegations with law-enforcement authorities. All eight of the priests who were living at the time of Bishop Saltarelli’s announcement previously had been removed from any ministerial duties, and for all eight priests, the Diocese has initiated or completed the process of laicization, or removal from the priesthood – the harshest punishment that the Church can impose on a priest, short of excommunication.
Moreover, the Diocese has never sought to seal depositions of priests accused of sexual abuse, and it consistently has supported the unsealing of such records. The Diocese also has never sought to seal the priest files it has produced in discovery in the lawsuits. The Diocese itself has publicly corroborated many of the incidents of abuse, and has provided more details about what actions were taken – or, sometimes tragically, not taken – by our officials. All such information is in the court records of the cases scheduled for trial on October 19, and we believe that no significant new facts would have emerged at trial.
My decision to file for Chapter 11 reorganization also was agonizing because it meant that, apart from the psychological and spiritual toll on the abuse victims, there will be significant financial losses for creditors who have faithfully supported us for years. The possibility of such losses has been present from the time that the scope of the claims against us first became clear, but the filing unfortunately makes it a certainty.
As regards the parishes and other institutions of the Diocese: It is only the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Inc. that is seeking reorganization under Chapter 11, not parishes, schools or related church entities which have their own corporate identities. Parishes in the Diocese of Wilmington are set up civilly and by state statute as separate corporations.
It is our moral obligation to make reparations and otherwise see to the healing of legitimate abuse victims and to try to restore the faith that in many cases has tragically been lost. But our moral obligations do not end there. We also are obliged to continue our charitable, educational and spiritual missions and the ministries associated with them. In order to do that, this Diocese must survive. Some see a tension between the claims of those victims who have suffered so greatly at the hands of people in whom they had placed their trust and the need of the Diocese to continue its other necessary works. We believe not only that both goals are compatible but that, with God’s help and yours, they will be achieved.
Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly
Bishop of Wilmington