Voices From the Readers
Why No Discourse?
I am ashamed to admit, but last night I attended my first Ocean City Council meeting after living in Caine Woods for the last eight years. My motivation for attending was to see how the council would respond to a request from the Elks Lodge for support of slots machines for fraternal organizations.
The meeting started routine enough with a sectarian invocation and then moved along to honor our town's firefighters who had heroically rescued swimmers under severe circumstances with little regard for their own safety. Next, a representative of the Elks Lodge made his presentation for slots. He pointed out that this would be a way they could help fund local charities and he specifically mentioned Little League baseball.
I (no doubt naively) assumed that there would be discussion of this issue. After all, for the last five years, a recurring theme in Ocean City was the danger of slots to our family-oriented community. The Mayor and Council for the most part opposed slots for education. Imagine my surprise when there was no discussion of the issue and council voted unanimously to support slots when presented to the state for approval. Never mind that the Elks Lodge sits across the street from private residences, who cares if next door, 10-year-olds are playing mini-golf. Would this mean that all fraternal organizations would be able to have slots and allocate the funds generated as they fancied? Oh, would woman's groups also be allowed slots? Who is going to foot the legal fees against the town when it refuses slots to organizations that it does not approve of?
I repeat, Mayor and Council engaged in no discussion over this issue. What a cynical display. In the future, I will be paying greater attention to these meetings and the issues on their agenda.
Not Surprised By
I am responding to Len Bender's letter last week in which he laments Barack Obama's choices so far for his incoming administration. Mr. Bender seems surprised and disappointed in the president-elect's embracing of so many Washington "insiders" after promising during his long and drawn-out campaign (it did span approximately 18 months) that he would bring change and a way to do business differently in Washington if elected.
I have to ask Mr. Bender -- why are you surprised and did you really think change would actually take place? After all, the biggest criticism leveled at Barack Obama, and the main reason I didn't vote for him, is the lack of "experience" he brings to the office. Quite naturally, he would have to tap those who have what he lacks in order to govern from the White House. A neophyte couldn't possibly surround himself with an administration of neophytes (even some who may be qualified) and not be taken advantage of at every turn, especially given today's world. I have to admit I am skeptical of the choices from the Carter administration. Anyone old enough to remember what a disaster of a presidency Jimmy Carter had has to be worried all over again. Talk about lame politics, even Congress (which also was controlled by Democrats then) turned against him.
Bottom line is only time will tell. As for me, I'm setting my expectations at "rock-bottom". If I'm wrong, it will be "bonus" time; if right, oh well, I thought so.
Conflict Insight Sought
(The following letter was sent to the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, attention Catherine Shultz.)
In reading the Berlin Charter sections on Ethics and Conflicts of Interest, I have a real concern and a question for you.
One candidate for a council seat is the major developer in the town. He has millions of dollars of interest in decisions that the Mayor and Council will make in the near future. We are a very small town, yet he has multiple developments currently in progress, and there has been ongoing discussion of the annexation of additional property he owns for more development. He has also been in active discussion and negotiations with the Mayor and Council about wastewater treatment facilities that must be upgraded by State mandate.
All his developments could or will be affected by decisions made by the Town Council, the planning department, the Berlin Utilities Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Historic District Commission. Historically, he actively represents his interests at all of these levels of town government.
My question is: can this man legally sit on our town council with his real and perceived conflicts of interest? How could it be possible for anyone with millions of dollars of interest at stake in decisions that will be made by the Mayor and Council not have a clear conflict of interest?
Another concern is that this council already has a history of violating the Open Meetings Act regarding Executive Session procedures and this adds a whole new dimension to potential ethics issues. (Sadly, our town Ethics Commission is in sad disarray. For months they could not even muster a quorum to respond to complaints made this past year.)Thanks for any insight and guidance you may offer.
Thanks For Attending
The Delmarva Chorus and Director Carol Ludwig would like to thank everyone who attended the "Coffee, Tea & Flower Power Harmony Show" on Nov. 16, 2008, at the Ocean Pines Community Church.
Your support was incredible and we send a special thanks to our ad patrons, Edie Brennan/Coldwell Banker, Studio 6, Lynne McAllorum/Broker Benefit Services, Patrick McAllorum-Entertainer, Claudia Nichols/State Farm, Marjorie Hagood/Tarrah Cosmetics, Warren Disbrow,/American Legion Chaplain, A Bagel And..., Carraba's Italian Grill, CraZy LadyZ, Espresso Wave, Judy Dunlop/Mary Kay Cosmetics, OC Jamboree, OP Golf and Country Club, OP Players, Super Fresh/W.Ocean City, A Total Look, The Woodlands, The Village Inn, Rick Ropp/State Farm, Sound Advice, Mike's Carpet Connection, Salon Di Bella, Joe Rinehart/OPA, World Gym, Mariposa at Bethany, Irene Rusigno/Allstate, Crab N Cruz, Grace Rau/Silk and Natural Floral Arrangements, Sharyn O'Hare/Coldwell Bankers, OP Area Chamber of Commerce and Rhythm N' Blues Quartet.
It is because of the support from the people of this community that we will be able to continue to donate to various local and national charities.
(The writer is the team coordinator of the Delmarva Chorus.)
Bush Pulling An Adams
Remember the Case of the Midnight Judges - how John Adams hacked the federal judiciary with his party's men in the 1800-01 weeks between Jefferson's election and inauguration?
Georgie Boy is right now pulling off the Case of the Midnight Deregulations. He is trying, before President-Elect Obama takes over, to ease a lot of federal rules restraining big corporations, especially rules protecting the environment. He wants to allow:
1. More coal slurry to be dumped into Appalachian streams.
2. More and worse oil spills. March 24, 2009, will mark 20 years since Exxon Valdez.
3. Power plants to spew more carbon into the air, thus making global warming worse.
4. Higher emissions of many different pollutants from oil refineries, chemical and other factories and also from power plants near nationwide parks.
5. Looser limits on fishing generally and on scallops specially.
6. Natural gas pipelines to operate at higher pressure, an enormous human safety hazard.
7. More lead emissions, causing retardation in kids and higher blood pressure in adults.
Obama should warn polluters that these lower standards will be voided after Jan. 20.
John Adams was wrong to stuff the federal branch with Federalist (proto-Republican) judges after the people had spoken in the election of 1800. And Georgie Boy is wrong now to let big business loose on our air, land and water. He seems determined to fix in the American mind, for generations to come, the image of the Republican party as the arch-enemy of the environment as well as of many other things middle class and poor people care about.
Severna Park, Md.
The Noel Community is preparing for their 11th annual dinner on Christmas Day. The volunteers serve a free turkey and ham dinner with all the trimmings from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Paul's by-the-Sea on 3rd and Baltimore Streets in Ocean City. This event has become an important part of the Christmas celebration for many including the homeless, unemployed, underemployed, shut-in, and those who are alone. Noel provides gifts and toys to many who attend. All items are free and all are welcome.
Last year, the Noel Community served over 1,500 meals including sit-down dinners and carry-outs. Meals were delivered to those who could not leave their homes and to the police, fire departments, and others who serve our community on Christmas Day. The Noel Community with the generosity from Ocean City, Ocean Pines, Berlin and the surrounding neighborhoods is able to make the Christmas celebration special for many. Checks made payable to the Noel Community can be mailed to PO Box 1207 in Ocean City Md., 21843. Your support for the dinner is appreciated.
Please join us for food and fellowship on Christmas Day. If you have any questions, call 410-289-3453.The Noel Community