Voices From The Readers
Here's Hoping For Other Tax Reductions
It was thought that the appeal would take years, but in record time the State of Maryland granted a reduction in the assessed value of 15 of the Trimper family's 24 properties, but those that did not see any change were the lots where the amusement rides sit at the south end of the Boardwalk, the focus of the 'Save Trimpers' lobby.
The 15 properties that did receive a reduction are scattered around Ocean City and the surrounding area. Not satisfied with a windfall savings of $470,000, the family plans to appeal to the government for more. The city, county and even the governor have all publicly stated they are all for it. Silly me, I thought the Democrats were against tax cuts for the rich.
Everyone should understand that businesses in the Baltimore or Washington DC suburbs also have increased tax assessments, and theirs are combined with a higher tax rate than that which we enjoy in Worchester County. Everyone that lives or does business in this state is affected by the new assessments, some much more the others. Thus, even without a new tax break, the Trimpers are already at a distinct tax advantage over businesses located elsewhere in Maryland. Moreover, they benefit a great deal more than others from the infrastructure our tax dollars provide: public access to their business from all sides, parking for thousands, public transportation that delivers customers to their door step, and a city police force that provides security. Why should they be exempt from paying their fair share?
The Trimper's strategy is to pluck the public's heartstrings by claiming that the tax rate increases on their nostalgic carnival property outpace its earnings. They have forced our politicians to either grant them special favors or lose votes from misinformed constituents.
What is good for the Trimpers should now be good for all of us, as long as you don't own a carnival on the Boardwalk? The Trimpers attorney Joe Harrison has successfully convinced the state that every property has been over assessed. His research must have been very convincing because he was able to save his clients about a half million dollars. Now it's our turn, where do we get in line for our reduction in our assessments or do you think the politicians will take care of it for us? I'm sorry for being so facetious; I know such privileges are reserved for the well connected.
Ashamed Of Letter
I find it rather unsettling that someone as arrogant and obviously narrow-minded as Mr. Patrick Oshea was given space in the Sept. 7 paper.
After reading his letter, I was reminded of how down right rude some folks can be. How can someone, who is a visitor himself, mock, degrade and pass judgment on another?
The way I see it we are all here to relax and to single out a group of people based on ethnicity or economic status and blame them for the downfall of a city is simply archaic and wrong.
Maybe Mr. Oshea should consider his own ugly behavior and how his anger just might be the type of attitude that is changing the climate of our laid back and 'quiet little town'.
Clarifying Label Of Foreign Students
I was most interested and somewhat puzzled by your article on the state of seasonal housing for 'foreign' students.
The article drew from an extremely limited source, namely, the current and former owner of the Driftwood apartments. Mr. Mariani has owned the Driftwood and his daughter Gina has run the Driftwood for about seven years. I would think that this amount of time would be sufficient for them to note that the 'foreign' students to whom they predominately rent are not truly the 'foreign' students that most people think of when they first read your article.
That is why I believe that a letter is needed to clarify this confusion about 'foreign' students.
Most of the students who rent at the Driftwood are, in fact, students who come to the United States on a F-1 visa to study in the U.S. colleges and universities for up to seven years. They are predominately from the countries of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ethiopia and India. During these six to seven years, they must remain in the U.S. and not travel to their home country. As such, they are more like 'American' students than the 'foreign' students, which your article appears to describe to the uninformed reader.
The F-1 students are not, in fact, anything like the 'foreign' students and should be excluded from any generalizations linking them with international students. International (J-1 visa) students start to plan their trip to the U.S. in October of the preceding year and must pass educational, background and language requirements. They must have a job to come to the U.S. and they must be interviewed and approved by the U.S. Embassy in their country. They must borrow from their parents the $2,500-$3,500 necessary to come to the U.S. including travel and start-up expenses. The reward for all this effort and expense is to come to the U.S. with a legal work visa and work in many cases for wages at such low levels of pay that American kids (or anyone else for that matter) will not work.
F-1 students are already in the U.S - usually for several years. Their total preparation to work in O.C. is to pile into a car owned by one of the students and drive from their university to Ocean City. If their timing is good, they will get here a week or two before the international students and will start to lock up housing and jobs including jobs promised to the international students and housing that might otherwise be available for international students.
The F-1 visa is not a legal working visa so non-foreign students are actually taking jobs that should belong legally to both American and J-1 international students. If you will notice in the article, the students were leaving last week suddenly and had a forwarding address in Missouri. International students do not leave suddenly or as early as last week; F-1 students do because they are on the U.S. educational schedule. And Missouri will probably not qualify as a foreign country no matter how you look at it.
Your article also mentions many safety nets for 'foreign' students. Actually there is only one safety net for international students, the Quality of Life Task Force set up by the City Council. The hard working chairman of the Task Force is Virginia Biafore and she is assisted by various other volunteer workers. All of the other student centers and others performing services for students have something to gain from the students myself included.
Virginia Biafore has done a great job of informing those responsible businessmen who will listen that the F-1 students are illegal workers and hiring them undermines the quality and hardworking temporary labor supply that O.C. is fortunate to receive from true international students. As a result, there are approximately 1,000-2,000 fewer F-1 workers this year as compared to last year.
Businessmen like the F-1 students because they come somewhat earlier than the international students. But, just like the American student workers they leave early. The true international students' schedules are phased in so that some are early and others stay late covering the full O.C. extended season.
I hope this spreads some light on the issue of these 'non-foreign' students. If you have any questions you can contact me at 410-289-0350.
(The writer is representing O.C. International Student Services.)
Tough Calls Ahead
Regarding your 'Some Legislators Feel Slots Are Not The Answer' article in your Sept. 7 issue, lawmakers will have hard choices to make as they decide how to solve our state's budget deficit. One solution that will not only raise revenue but also make the tax code more fair is to close tax loopholes that allow out of state corporations to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.
No one •€' corporations or individuals •€' should be able to game the system. Unfortunately, Maryland's current tax code allow multi-state corporations to shift their profits out of state, leaving in-state businesses and individuals to foot the bill for transportation, education and public safety.
Combined reporting requires companies with subsidiaries and affiliates to file taxes in a single combined report and then pay taxes according to the combined group's in-state business activity. This simple rule change removes a host of corporate tax loopholes in one fell swoop.
We urge Maryland's lawmakers to level the playing field for in-state businesses and pass combined reporting this year.
Johanna E. Neumann
(The writer is a policy advociate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).)
Thanks For Attending
The Delmarva Discovery Center Board of Directors would sincerely like to thank all those who attended our open house on Aug. 23, 2007. The evening was a wonderful success. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the sense that we are on the cusp of something big was tangible. The community support was fantastic with nearly 300 attendees. We hope to see you all at the next event and look forward to serving you in the future.
We would also like to give special thanks to our State Delegates, Worcester County Commissioners, Pocomoke City Council members and the Mayor, with out whom this project would not be possible. It is their vision of the potential for this endeavor, not only for Pocomoke and Worcester County but also for the entire Lower Shore that has helped to bring this dream to life.
Lastly, a special thank you is due to those members of the community who have tirelessly supported the Delmarva Discovery Center during the years of planning and development. We enthusiastically welcome everyone to be a part of our progress. If you would like more information on how you can get involved please feel free to give us a call at 410-957-9933 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The writer is the director of the Delmarva Discovery Center.)