Thoughts From the Publisher's Desk
Bikers on the Boardwalk will be able to enjoy themselves for an hour longer during the week this summer. As a result of a suggestion by Mayor Rick Meehan, the Ocean City Council voted last week and again this week to scale back a plan to add an hour, from 10 to 11 a.m. of biking throughout the summer and continuing the Boardwalk tram's operating start of 10 a.m. Meehan advised the council this could wreak havoc on the Boardwalk in the busy season, recommending the city add the extra hour during the week only and keep the 10 a.m. stoppage on the busy weekends to allow the tram to operate safely as well as not lose out on approximately $25,000 in revenue. I think the mayor was on the mark here. This is a sound compromise, and I am curious to see what kind of impact the added hour during the week has on the Boardwalk scene. I think there will be some perilous moments during July and August between bikers, the tram and beach-goers, but it will be interesting to see whether it's the norm or a rarity. Observations made over the next few months will likely determine whether the extra hour is approved for the weekends as well next year.
Some of the notable non-profit organizations in the county came on bended knee before the County Commissioners at this week's public hearing on the budget. It was reported weeks ago that the commissioners were eliminating about $1 million in funding grants to charitable organizations in keeping with a stringent crackdown on spending. At this week's public hearing, the commissioners heard what that decision would mean for those non-profits who rely on county funds to allow them to receive federal subsidies. Let's take for example the plight of Diakonia, a facility that serves as a transitional housing facility for the downtrodden as well as a support structure of sorts for other needy folks in the area. Last year Diakonia received $20,000 from the county, allowing it to receive matching funds from federal sources. The rest of its operating budget reportedly came from private entities. The critical aspect here is without local funds to initially support them these organizations face a rough road for outside help. We understand the county's position to eliminate these budget line items, but we empathize with these valuable organizations in our community that came before the commissioners. It's just a shame. To the point it's almost become a cliché, it has been said these tight times affect everyone. That may be true to an extent, but there's no question in my mind it's affecting the most vulnerable to the highest degree.
What was at one time thought to be a source of major cost savings for Ocean City has not turned out to be that way. After all the calculations were tweaked regarding who actually lives within 15 miles of municipal limits, only about a dozen take-home vehicles will be taken off the streets, saving the town about $60,000 in fuel and repairs expenses alone. In total, the town has 65 employees who currently have a take-home vehicle, costing about $300,000 annually. On this topic, Councilman Jim Hall's comments at this week's meeting seemed to sum up the situation. 'There's been discussion up here about taking every vehicle away, and if I were to make a motion for that, it might just fly tonight, because the citizens of the town are angry,' said Hall. 'Things just aren't like they used to be. When we were fat with cash, this was okay, but it's not like that anymore.'
In other news, a lot of funny things happen around a newsroom. For instance, News Editor Shawn Soper, who also wears the hat of sports editor here, received an email from an aspiring sports writer this week seeking some possible freelance work. That's all well and good and quite typical for this time of year. The problem was the young man addressed the email to a 'Mr. Roper.' Last I heard Soper was planning to write the college kid back with a 'Three's Company' reference of some sort and a reminder about the importance of correctly spelling names in journalism.