Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
For whatever reason, surely it was petty politics, the state legislature did not see fit to endorse Delegate Jim Mathias' legislation earlier this year seeking to make the sale of salvia illegal. Until the state legislature, specifically the Senate, comes to its senses and outlaws this dangerous substance, which the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has yet to classify, the town needs to take control. There's no question something unfortunate and perhaps tragic is going to happen if salvia sales are permitted to continue. It's only a matter of time, particularly when it's so popular among younger folks who are not educated on its dangers and already have a immortality complex. Mathias and the council seem to feel the same way.
Besides these concerns, what's also appalling is a couple reports heard this week. One was that a group of 20-somethings were reportedly smoking a salvia-and-tobacco-filled blunt on the beach recently and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Along the same lines, it was also reported this week that a group of folks created quite a stir on the Boardwalk this month when they proudly smoked salvia in a hooka, a water-based device that gives multiple folks a chance to smoke at one time. More than likely, this hooka was purchased at a Boardwalk store selling salvia. It's no secret some merchants have been selling common drug paraphernalia for the last two summers under the guise that it's used for salvia and tobacco.
Although this ban may be vulnerable to a legal challenge, I am glad to see the town pen an ordinance making the sale of salvia illegal.
What does it mean that Ocean City and Worcester County officials differ on what the state should do with the Route 50 Bridge? Absolutely nothing, besides serving as yet another example of how these governments see matters extremely differently.
The Ocean City Mayor and Council supports a fixed-span option that calls for a new bridge without a drawbridge north of the existing span and is projected to cost about $400 million, would result in numerous property displacement and changes to traffic patterns. The County Commissioners support a cheaper plan calling for a north parallel structure with a drawbridge that calls for the least amount of property displacements and land grabs. The State Highway Administration is expected to formally announce its preferred option this summer with an environmental assessment begun soon after and the design phase expected to take place next summer. As with any large-scale project, funding will determine the future course of this process.
With so much uncertainty regarding the state's fiscal health and the scarcity of funds for just about anything, this project is a long way off, making these local government decisions even less important at this time. More than likely, more input will be sought in the future as more specifics are unveiled.
Defend Life, a pro-life group that has clashed openly with local law enforcement officials in the past, will not be here this summer.
It's been four summers since the controversial group has been in Ocean City, and it appears a return engagement is not in the works this year. Back in 2005, graphic signs containing dismembered and mutilated fetuses were seized by Ocean City police, leading Defend Life officials to threaten legal action. Police said then the signs were seized because protestors were not moving with the signs and consequently were in violation of town ordinance. In April of this year, the organization sent a letter to Ocean City seeking $660, representing the value of the signs seized and allegedly destroyed by police because they were left outside and subjected to the elements. City Solicitor Guy Ayres said at the time the resort had denied the request for reimbursement.
On Wednesday, Defend Life released its four-state tour including stops in Charlestown, W. Va., Hagerstown, Frederick, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., Bowie, Hanover, Westminster, Towson, Baltimore, Hanover, Pa. and White Marsh.