Voices From The Readers
(The following letter was written to Ocean City Council members.)
In my 20-plus years as a council member, I don't believe I have ever written a letter to the newspaper. Today I am writing to urge you my fellow council members to reconsider your vote on Tuesday which has caused tremendous ill will and hurt feelings among our volunteer firefighters.
We were faced with a simple request from the fire chief to allow him full control over all fire/EMS personnel until a paid chief could be found. His concern for the safety of the firefighters, paramedics, EMT personnel and the citizens came from the fact that since the town hired an Emergency Services Director there have been conflicts with our staff as to 'who is in charge.'
I considered this a fair request and voted accordingly. Unfortunately, for the volunteers, the vote did not pass and today we have received a letter from the volunteers that they will make arrangements to move out of our city, surrender to the wishes of the council and when the city is able, no longer provide these free services to the town.
We are in essence losing 100 years of experience, dedication and professionalism second to none. It's not just the fires these dedicated volunteers get out of bed for, but the medical emergencies, accidents, flooding, gas leaks, hurricanes, snow storms and on and on. These folks leave their families and lives at home to protect us, the citizens of Ocean City.
Please we have already broken the spirit of these incredible public safety volunteers. Don't let them leave our city.
Come back Monday night and join in with the community to thank those volunteers in service to the town and vote to accept their recommendation and support the volunteer chief. I am pleading with you for your re-consideration to this emergency matter.
(The writer is an Ocean City Councilman.)
A Waste Of Resources
Those of us living in Worcester County have a great gift that is indeed worth boasting over: our schools. We have well-funded educational institutions that yearly produce young students having a greater understanding of the world, and the necessary skills to become contributing citizens in our society. And, while there are many factors to our success in education, a lot of credit must go to well, our money. Our school districts are blessed with sufficient funds to make valuable learning environments. We do generally turn out well educated students, but maybe there is a lesson that we are not teaching because we are not following it ourselves; we must pass the gift of education by recycling valuable resources for those in need. Those resources being our schools' books.
Coming from an anemic Philadelphia school system, the Worcester County educational philosophy was a huge selling point in my move to the Eastern Shore almost 20 years ago. I am happy with the education that my children have and I would not trade that for anything. But I was dismayed when I learned from my child that Stephen Decatur is trashing their books. Loads of books are being replaced in the school library, and instead of pragmatically donating our old, still in good condition books, the Board of Education is ordering them to be dumped. You do not have to be an avid reader or book lover to appreciate the question that comes to mind:
Why are tons of books over the years being wasted? Should not these books be donated to shelters, community centers or other schools in need? Like the ones that are rotting in Philadelphia? What message are we sending our kids with this wasteful habit? I have always believed that the purpose and spirit of education is to pass on our knowledge and be productive in society. I do not find anything productive about book trashing.
After a little inquiry, I found the reason for this wasteful habit: our money. Our resource that has made our schools great is behind this disgrace. I was told that Stephen Decatur's books can not be donated because they were bought with money from the school district: taxpayer money. The Board of Education 'book bin' is deemed the best scenario since these books were purchased with tax money, and money must not be wasted! I hope that everyone is having the same reaction I had myself: if the correlation is books equals tax money, is donating not better than throwing away our tax money. Because here it sounds like money is being thrown away.
I still cannot wrap my head around the idea of wasting our books. Yes, some books have buckled from their binding, have swam in a plethora of students' napping saliva, have pages graced with graffiti, been tossed, torn and disheveled; but I have seen the racks that are being tossed, and this is not usually the case.
This is disgraceful: the money that has blessed our community is the excuse behind our waste. We need to be frugal with our resources, and in an era where education needs to be universal, there have to be routes that the Board of Education did not explore. The indifference behind the Board of Education's decision to prefer waste over the spread of knowledge and productive use of resources is appalling.
Thanks For Support
We are the Wheatley's and today my family would like to take some of your time and space up to help us thank so many local MVP's (MVF's) who really stepped up and helped my brother Ed Wheatley out.
On Feb. 4, the day after the Super Bowl, hundreds of friends and strangers gathered at Coins Pub for the 'Everybody Loves Ed' fundraiser. This event was a great success not only in raising some much needed funds for Ed's medical care but his spirit as well.
Ed and my family were touched by this outpouring of love and support in my family's darkest hour. While we have been a part of this community for a long time, it is always scary to ask for help. Event organizers handled everything and local businesses donated numerous items on Ed's behalf.
There were so many of you who gave time, money, auction items, and effort that we wish we could get you all the publicity you deserve. The Wheatley's would love to give each and everyone your own Most Valuable Player(Friend) award like they do after the Super Bowl, but the fact is it would be a team award since there are so many to thank for your help. Throughout Ed's gallant fight the local community has stepped up and given support both spiritually and financially. The term community is often a lost term in today's society, but in Ocean City on Feb. 4 Ed and the Wheatley's were given the greatest gift they could have ever received friendship.
My brother's favorite movies has always been "It's A Wonderful Life" and 'Forest Gump'. On Feb. 4, we recreated the scene from 'It's A Wonderful Life' where George's brother comes to the rescue at the end of the movie with all his friends and says the toast "To My Big Brother-The richest man in town." then we quoted Clarence the guardian angel who said, "Remember Ed No Man is A Failure Who Has So Many Friends!"
Well, to put it mildly, Ed was truly touched. In this ugliness that is cancer, it was a beautiful thing to see what you all did for us. Again for all of you "Clarence's" (Ed's Guardian Angels) and MVP's (MVF's) out there and everything you did to make the Everybody Loves Ed Fundraiser a success, we will never forget this ... God Bless you and yours •€¦ Ed and my family truly are the richest people in the world with friends like you all.
If anyone would like to leave Ed a message, they can visit his web site at www.CarePages.com and visit his page EverybodyLovesEddie.
For anyone who missed it you can still help by sending your donation to: Everybody Loves Ed Fundm c/o Ed Wheatley, P.O. Box 1092, Ocean City, Md. 21843. Or if you prefer you can drop it off at any Local Taylor Bank branch.
Tax Differential Bill Needs Introduction
(The following letter was addressed to Senator Lowell Stolztfus and Delegates Jim Mathias and Norman Conway.)
My previous correspondence with all of you indicates that you understand the inequity of the property tax situation for property owners in Ocean City because there is no tax differential (tax offset). The recent tax differential tax study done by an independent contractor for the Town of OC bears out what everyone already knew: Ocean City property owners are subsidizing the rest of Worcester County and that property owners who are not residents and cannot claim a homestead credit and cannot vote in the city or county are being hurt the most.
Your position has been that the Mayor and City Council should try and work it out before you will consider introducing legislation to to amend the Maryland Tax Article to make Worcester County a "shall" rather than a "may" county.
Based on my discussions with some of the OC Council members, it is my understanding that the city complied with the provisions of the Property Tax Article and submitted the Tax Differential Study along with other financial documentation in early December 2007, prior to the 180-day requirement of the Article. I further understand, the County Commissioners refuse to meet with the City to discuss the tax offset request as is required by state law.
In an effort to totally substantiate these reported claims, I have sent a Freedom of Information Request to the Mayor of Ocean City. A copy of this request is attached. I will provide all three of you with whatever Mayor Meehan sends me. However, if his documentation substantiates what I have been told verbally, I would expect and hope that you will immediately submit legislation to amend the Tax Article to make Worcester a "shall" county.