City Candidates Should
Weigh In On Union Effort
At the most recent City Council meeting where the question of a unified City Council stance on the collective bargaining referendum was raised, it was understandable, having been surprised by Joe Hall’s motion, that a majority of the Council requested the motion be withdrawn. Unlike Mr. Hall and Mr. Ashley, I do not feel the council as a governmental body should have to take a stand on this issue. It was dismaying to witness the collective divisiveness with some members going full bore ahead in what may have been, especially with respect to town employees, an unproductive exercise while others were simply looking for political cover due to the amount of signatures the petition collected. However, it is a very different issue on an individual basis if you are running for election.
Unlike Pontius Pilate who could afford to wash his hands of taking issue on an important subject, council members are elected and not appointed by the Emperor. The voters have a right to know prior to the election where a council candidate stands on an issue of such great importance as we are not a government ruled by plebiscite but rather by duly elected representatives. Yes, this issue has become a referendum on the ballot but that does not abdicate a candidate from taking a position. Every candidate running for that representative council position should not be allowed to hide behind a referendum unless by referendum is how they plan to govern.
Whether for or against, voters deserve sound reasoning as to how each candidate plans to deal with the town employees in a respectful manner that will address their concerns while balancing that with the realities of the budget and keeping tax rates as low as possible. While it is my personal belief that collective bargaining will not be in the best financial interest of the taxpayers or employees, my real question is, after witnessing the finger pointing, why did it come to this juncture? It is my hope that common ground will be sought and found so that the best interest of the taxpayers, represented by the council, will intersect with the best interest of the general employees without the time and expense of arbitration and we will all move forward.
Mark A. Pugh
Questions For Berlin
I would like to comment/have questions on two issues.
One, the 12% reduction of the commercial electric rates for the Town of Berlin, and the other, the stormwater utility that appears to be in the works.
It was pointed out recently by one of the council members that the residential customers had experienced a reduction in their electric bill because of the long-term rate agreement the town had made over the last year: “Additionally, dropping commercial rates would bring them more in line with the town’s residential rates, which saw a reduction last March of about 10 percent due to a new town contract for energy.”
Didn’t the commercial accounts also get a 10-percent drop? Or, do they have a different town contract? Wouldn’t that give the commercial accounts a 22% drop? I don’t know what the competition’s rates are, but I can’t believe they don’t have commercial rates. Commercial rates are more because commercial units use more electric than residential units. You reduce the commercial accounts and the residential accounts are subsidizing the commercial usage of the electric plant and its equipment.
As to the 10% drop, that only begins to make up for the inflated rates the electric customers were paying prior to this contract. No one mentioned the reason the town was paying so much before. The reason was no contract was sought because some members of this council wanted to sell the electric plant, and the town couldn’t enter into any long-term contract. So we all paid very high rates, while they attempted to sell this plant (which they couldn’t do). Now in just a few years, it has gone from something we needed to get rid of because of the aging equipment, to a plant that doesn’t need the $270,000 they are prepared to give up. If something goes wrong at the plant and this money is no longer available, repairs will come from the general fund or from increased rates for everyone. I am all for helping small business, but not at the expense of the residential taxpayer. If they planned properly, small businesses knew what their bills would be. They can survive as is, but could they afford a hike if this plan backfires, probably not. If the electric plant is in such good shape now, why was I without electric for 12 hours during the supposed “1,000-year” storm?
Which brings me to the other issue, our proposed stormwater utility and the Mayor and Council’s lack of response to the massive flooding this town experienced. Why is another utility necessary? Why doesn’t this come under Public Works maintenance? Who fixes the storm drains now? Why don’t our taxes pay for this? Why does the mayor think that adding a “nominal fee” to our bills is something we will put up with? These problems were made by our town government’s lack of planning and zoning expertise over many years. They have allowed development in areas that obviously did not have the infrastructure to support the growth and did nothing to alleviate the issue. To blame this on the 1,000-year storm is ludicrous. What was the storm 9-10 years ago … the 500-year storm, and the storm 10 years before that … the 100-year storm? Nothing has been done to resolve these issues for 20-30 years, each storm, by the way, giving worse flooding issues, not just on West Street, but in many other areas in town. We seem to have money to develop the downtown, but the rest of Berlin suffers. I would bet that if the downtown had flooded like the rest of us, FEMA would have been called immediately. It is my understanding, it has never been called.
I understand 13 inches of water is not the norm; however, we flood if we have three inches of rain in a short time. What is this study going to do besides recommend the setting up of a stormwater utility? How is this additional utility going to operate? How many jobs will it create? Will the fund be just for stormwater (an enterprise fund) or could it be used for the general fund budget shortfalls? What exactly will the “nominal fee” cover? How will another layer of government help our flooding issues? How will it help the homeowners today that have massive repair bills and no insurance coverage to help them? There are too many questions, and some very vague answers floating around.
Dew Tour Thanks OC
Editor: (The following letter was addressed to the Ocean City community.)
On behalf of the Dew Tour and entire Alli Sports family, I would like to take this time to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone in Ocean City, MD who supported the Dew Tour’s Pantech Beach Championships.
The overwhelming community support — from government officials and staff, the business community, and the fans — led to the highest attended event in Dew Tour history. We were proud to show the breathtaking Ocean City backdrop to the world via the NBC Family of networks and world-wide through live broadcasts.
Our sponsors, athletes, and everyone in Ocean City could not help but notice the Dew Tour promotion via all the local business community and that support is greatly appreciated and critical.
The support of Mayor Meehan, the City Council, the city manager and city staff is also key component to our success. The collective group has been supportive since our first discussion and continues to be a critical piece in the success if the event.
Ocean City provides us with a great beach setting and backdrop for our event, and we are proud to showcase Ocean City, Md. to the world through our 11 hours of programming on the NBC family of networks, 16 hours of live-streaming, and live to 60-plus countries around the world.
A sincere "Thank You" to the entire Ocean City community for making the Dew Tour an overwhelming success.
(The writer is the vice president of events for Alli Sports, the presenter of the Dew Tour.)
After reading your latest article about collective bargaining, there is no question on who we will vote for. Put the devil against Joe Hall and Brent Ashley and we will vote for the devil.
What bugs us is that many of these so call Christians, are the very ones that are out to enslave all of us. We can tell Christians by how they act. This includes some running for the presidential office.
J. M. Marx
Majority Hates Employees
There have been subtle hints, here and there, for almost two years. But after the City Council Work Session on Tuesday Aug, 28, 2012, the council majority is starting to openly show their true colors.
The council majority hates career employees, and especially the Town of Ocean City employees.
During a discussion of rising health care costs and how the council could lower costs, the topic of workers’ compensation pay arose. The budget manager, Jennie Knapp, advised the council that health care costs have gone up, among other reasons. She also added that, and I’m paraphrasing, while most employees earn worker’s compensation pay at a rate of 66 2/3%, other public safety employees receive 100% worker’s compensation pay per their contract.
Council members Joe Hall and Brent Ashley seemed shocked initially and then pandered to the video camera while making comments, (again paraphrasing) so the police get 100% worker’s comp per the contract? For everyone listening, the police officers are getting paid 100% while everyone else is getting 66 2/3%.
What’s appalling is multi-faceted. First is that they were “shocked” by this news. Every time they learn something “new” about the contract between the Town and the FOP, they conveniently forget that they approved the contract. The contract that the FOP bargained, note the word bargained, with the Town is a negotiation that is ultimately ratified by the membership and the town council.
Second, the fact that the police receive their full salary, when they are injured at work, on duty, protecting Ocean City residents and property, shouldn’t be viewed as a negative. They should not be financially penalized for doing their jobs and unfortunately being injured. The unfortunate part of the police receiving full compensation when they are injured at work is that all city employees aren’t taken care of in the same manner. Someone comes to work one day, gets hurt on the job, and the next day only gets two-thirds of their salary while recovering is kicking a person while they are down.
It is this open disdain by the council majority, specifically Joe Hall and Brent Ashley, that I know has driven the general employees of Ocean City to seek unionization. They aren’t unionizing out of greed; they are unionizing out of fear. Fear of financial instability, fear of job insecurity, and fear of private business owners meddling in the public sector without the requisite knowledge. Their open attempt to drive a wedge between city departments is deplorable.
If you look at who Joe Hall, Jim Hall, Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas are, you’ll see that they are all private sector, private business owners. They use temporary, seasonal employees, pay them a pittance, and when they are through with them, they wash their hands of them.
That is what they want for the hard working, career employees of Ocean City. If they could run the town in two, six-month seasons, hiring and firing at will, they would. They are rude to the employees. They have no concern for the well-being of the employees. They were unfortunately placed in a power position for which they are grossly incapable as witnessed by their reckless actions over the last two years, steering this city in the wrong direction.
This November’s election will be a turning point in the Town of Ocean City’s history. It will either be when votes are cast to steer this ship away from the proverbial rocks, or it will be a continuation of reckless, thoughtless actions, by unqualified, self-important individuals, at the expense of the employees.
(The writer is a former member of the Ocean City Police Department and worked in public safety for 35 years.)
Proud To Sign Petition
My wife and I were proud to sign a petition recently to support our dedicated employees of Ocean City in their effort to have a question placed on the ballot in November, which will allow them the opportunity to be represented by a union.
We urge all property-owners and residents to also support our OC employees on this issue. After all we entrust them daily to make the right decisions when they perform their many and varied work assignments which keep our town safe and appealing to us as property-owners and our many visitors. Let them decide whether or not they would like to be represented by a union like our dedicated police and firemen have had for many years.
It is only fair that our Ocean City employees should have the same security that many other represented workers in this country already enjoy.
Gerard and Josephine DiClementi
How often does a duck help to send a kid to college? Answer: At least once a year at the Annual Kiwanis Duck Race which raises funds for the Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City Scholarship Fund awarding scholarships yearly to local deserving high school seniors to further their educations. Kiwanis is just one of many local community service organizations that support so many needs of the community. However, ultimately it all comes back to community support without which the efforts of these organizations would not come to fruition.
The Kiwanis 11th Annual Duck Race awarded 23 prizes to Duck Race winners, of which the first three were cash from ticket sales, but the remaining 20 prizes were donated by local businesses for which Kiwanis says, thank you to: Cheers of Berlin, Atlantic Hotel-Berlin, Whiskers of Ocean Pines, Sherwood of Salisbury, Atlantic Health & Fitness, Ocean Resorts Golf Club, Deer Run Golf Club, Barrett Chevrolet, Ocean Pines Golf Club, Ocean Pines Yacht Club, Carrabbas of WOC, Mickey Fins, Harborside Bar and Grill, Outback Steakhouse W. OC, DAVI Nail Salon, Berlin Wal-Mart, Adkins Hardware, and Hooters of OC. That’s a community in action.
Debate The Facts
As everyone knows by now, Mitt Romney has selected Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate. As soon as the announcement was made, Jim Messina of the Obama campaign sent out an e-mail (I signed up to receive these e-mails some time ago to get my daily chuckle).
In this email, Mr. Messina calls Paul Ryan’s budget proposal “radical”. I had to scratch my head over that one. Radical as compared to what? The last three budgets proposed by President Obama which didn’t even garner a single vote in the Democrat controlled Senate? Radical as compared to the budgets proposed by the Senate over the last three-plus years? Oh, silly me, there hasn’t been one.
Mr. Messina also accused Mr. Ryan of wanting to “end Medicare as we know it”. Really. How utterly horrifying. Medicare is bankrupt with trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. The same for Social Security and Medicaid. I think we’d better “end it as we know it” and institute some reforms pretty darn quick. The Democrats solutions to these huge problems? Tax the rich.
Seniors, don’t let the “Mediscare” smears of the Democrats fool you. Young people, don’t fall for the spin and lies from the Democrats – you’re the ones who are going to be paying for the $16 trillion national debt and the trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.
I believe Romney chose Ryan because he knows we need a real debate on the debt and deficits – so let’s have that debate.
Litter Deserves Attention
As an ex-Marylander, I visited your fine city recently and read with great interest about the litter and cigarette butt problem you are having. Now, I live in Hampton, N.H., and as a beach community we too face the same problems.
Regrettably the cities can’t keep up, they don’t have the resources to address such issues. The litterbugs have them outnumbered but they are not going to win. Personally, I would like the cities to become more pro-active in asking the public to not throw their butts and please fill up our trash cans, not our parking lots and streets. Put some of those wonderful electronic road signs to use, hit the incoming rush with some good old down to earth messages like: Please Don’t Butt Up Our Beach- Please Fill up Our Trash Cans.
Get the message out to the throngs before they get to the beach. Aerial signs and the boat signs speak volumes, ask the people to cooperate and you’ll see a big response. No Body Likes a Dirty Beach. How about community service participants doing walking and picking? I bet that there is a lovely group of seniors out there who would love to help with this. We as 99% have to get it together and help the town fathers plan out a better plan of action.
I have two bumper stickers on my car, one says, “Pick Up Litter” and the other one says, “Smokers-our planet/beach is not your ashtray- keep your butts in your pants.” Good luck with all this, don’t give up. Get involved because you can make a difference. If you see a butt flicker, speak up. We’ve had enough already.