Where Are The Facts In Local Slots Debate?
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on last week fine editorial piece, "Commissioners’ Bubble Needs Bursting." That really needed saying.
In Cara Dahl’s story on the commissioners’ anti-slots movement, I was very impressed by Commissioner Judy Boggs for actually attempting to keep the proceedings of the council within the confines of the law. Boggs and that other radical, Commissioner Linda Busick, actually had the temerity to take a locally unconventional stance and suggest fact gathering and ascertaining the thoughts of the constituency before taking a position that speaks for the county at large. Good stuff. The rest of that article, however, left me stunned, and not in a good way.
Commissioner Bud Church’s contribution was this gem, "Casinos are built by losers. They’re not built by winners." Name-calling, as every child was once taught, is the last resort of the one with nothing of merit to say, no valid argument to present, no disputation of substance to offer. And, by the way, billionaires like Donald Trump, Steve Wynn, Bill Yung and Kirk Kerkorian, all of whom have built a few casinos in their day, may disagree with Church.
I want to hear facts from my elected officials. I want to see the data from neighboring states like Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia who are experienced with slots at their racetracks. What have the cultural, social and economic impacts been to these communities? Have there been any measurable increases/decreases in tax revenues, local business sales, real estate values, crime statistics, traffic congestion, traffic accidents, noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution, unemployment, home or auto re-possessions, families added to the welfare roles, overall change in demographics or whatever it is that make people afraid of slot machines? Don’t give me anecdotal arguments that all sound a little too elitist, a little too "my kind of people don’t mix with those kind of people." Please. That kind of argument hopefully went out of the public debate in the 60’s.
From a historical perspective, I am not optimistic that I will ever garner any statistical, quantifiable, objective information on the slots issue from any local representative or resource. I will have to research it on my own. And I will. Question is, will I ever have a forum in Worcester County in which to be heard?
Should I be worried, given the attitude of some who speak for us in Annapolis, that all the new tax increases coming our way will be used for additional National Guard troops, police dogs, maybe some fire hoses, to help keep "them" (people who put quarters in slot machines) out of our town? A town, by the way, where you can guzzle a 48-ounce margarita, see a wet T-shirt contest, buy wearable pornography in the form of T-shirts, take home a bag of sex toys and other erotica, get a fake tattoo, and be back in Ocean Downs in less than 20 minutes and brag to the other "losers" how you have just visited the good part of town. Righteous.
Come on people. We are about to become one of the highest taxed states in America. If your real estate doesn’t sell next year, maybe that is the problem. But this is the deal being made on your behalf. Your delegate will vote against the dreaded slot machine so that our commissioners will back a huge tax increase, on our behalf, of course. Democracy at work in Maryland.
State Tax Increases Will Hurt Business
It now seems clear that the O’Malley administration as well as the leadership in the General Assembly have virtually no respect for the Eastern Shore. The evidence is seen in the legislation currently being introduced.
— A sales tax increase when our local businesses compete daily with tax free Delaware.
— An increase in the hotel sales tax to 7.5%. This means a visitor to Ocean City will now pay a total of 12% in taxes in addition to the nightly room rate. This will reduce visitors and reduce the spending by those visitors that still come.
— Slots at Ocean Downs even though their opposed by the Worcester County Commissioners, the Hotel Restaurant Association, the Economic Development Committee, and The Mayor and City Council. It is funny how slots are not proposed for Montgomery or PG County where they will produce a lot more tax revenue, but residents and elected officials do not want them in “their own back yard”.
— A hike in the corporate tax from 7% to 8.5%. This is yet another job killer here, which is popular with the Baltimore, Montgomery, Prince George’s County crowd.
— Tax increases that will drive away residents, businesses and visitors. What are they thinking in Annapolis?
West Ocean City
They’re Heroes, Too
Media commentators have heaped scorn on the State Department’s Foreign Service Officer corps for alleged reluctance to accept involuntary assignments to Iraq. Typically, commentators contrast cowardly diplomats to our brave military. But factually:
— The Foreign Service is small, less than one-half of one percent the size of the U,.S. military in personnel and budget. The FS is stretched thin at some 260 embassies and consulates worldwide, many of which are designated hardship posts.
— More than 2,000 Foreign Service members have already volunteered for service in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last five years. Well over 80 percent of the FS-designated position in Iraq for summer 2008 have already been filled, eight months in advance.
— U.S. diplomats are unarmed, yet like the military, physical threat is part of their lives. To evade attacks do you have to vary your routes and times when commuting? Do you practice holing up and holding out in secure areas of your offices against potential rioters or terrorist attacks? FS people have to, even in supposedly cushy places like Rome, Paris, London and Brussels. Do bombs go off at other workplaces down the street from you? Do your vehicles and yourselves have to undergo bomb searches before you can park and enter your workplaces? They do and I did, at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
Unlike ill-informed commentators, I’ve been there, done that. All praise to the military, but our U.S. State Department diplomats, staff, and locally-engaged employees abroad are heroes, too.
D. Thomas Longo, Jr.
Yacht Club Reality
Letters defending or praising the “management” of the Yacht Club are touching, but out of touch with reality. The year before the present “management” arrived, the Yacht Club posted a loss of $53,249. Since then it has lost an average of $165,828 per year 11 straight years, according to OPA’s records.
The idea that more customers will solve the problem is equally unrealistic. Last year it lost $.0986 for every $1 of revenue, with the profitable catering business included. Increased revenue from more customers will only result in increased losses, under present “management”.
The problem at the Yacht Club is basic. Eleven consecutive years of failure prove the “management” doesn’t know how to run a restaurant, to put it politely. New restaurants open up regularly in this area and existing ones expand. Do you suppose those people do it to lose money?
Ocean Pines is the largest year-round community in Worcester County, with plenty of people who like to eat out. Those new and expanding restaurants are taking advantage of the fact that most Ocean Pines residents won’t patronize the Yacht Club. Why do you think that is the case?
The 2007 graduating class of the Ocean City Citizens Police Academy would like to publicly thank the Town of Ocean City, its citizens, the Mayor and City Council, and the Ocean City Police Department for making available the OC Citizens Police Academy. This program provided us with detailed information about the operation of the Ocean City Police Department and has prepared us to better support law enforcement efforts in the city and in other places where we may travel or live.
The program was well organized and implemented and the speakers were knowledgeable, spoke with enthusiasm and passion and obviously take pride in their work. Their handouts were excellent and will serve as a good future reference.
We highly recommend this program for all citizens interested in helping Ocean City continue to be the outstanding city that it is.
Ocean City Citizens Police Academy Class of 2007
(The class consisted of Jennifer Lake Albright, Jerry Albright, Ann M. Ballantyne, Harry K. Ballantyne, Robert J. Chapman, Sr., Christina Courtney, Eleanor Curcio, Michael Curcio, Peggy Davis, Thomas E. Davis, Joan DeMarco, Ellie Diegelmann, Irene Hansen, Nelsie Jameson, Jean Kopp, Joseph Kopp, N. Park Makin, Jeffrey M. McArthur,Sr., Geo. J. Mosmiller, Phyllis M. Mosmiller, BR Robertson, Sheila Rothstein and Janet L. Wells.)
Attack Serves No Good
We, who are registered Republicans, are getting hit weekly with “having Republican values,” “proud to be a Republican” and “we deserve better” rhetoric slathered all over oversized fliers. The inclusion of the “dirty tricks” assessment of Mr. Gilchrest’s character is an insult to the “intelligence” of the very populace who receive these mailings. To even embrace the “dirty trick” terminology suggests to me, a segment of the speakers’ psyches to harbor such thoughts themselves.
Mr. Ehrlich’s comment that Wayne Gilchrest “went out of his way to embarrass me and my administration” in recent media reports the day he testified against slots in Annapolis resulted out of respect for his constituents’ concerns for his beliefs and the fact that a racetrack was in his district. Wayne’s mindset and soul are totally involved with job related issues, not in juvenile mind games such as thinking of embarrassing Mr. Ehrlich. Wayne is just not wired to be vindictive or manipulative.
Wayne is not only my husband; he is my representative also. And, I am proud to be represented by one who is not confined in his thinking, actions and dealings with representatives on both sides; all of whom are Americans first and foremost. To be partisan and guided wholly by party platforms fosters narrow-mindedness and demonstrates in a subtle way, an immaturity by rejecting other Americans’ thoughts and ideas. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, “A mind stretched to a new idea never regains its original dimension”.
Elected officials on all levels must communicate and interact with one another, exchanging ideas, opinions and thoughts. Allowing this environment to flourish, public servants might gain mutual respect, learn the art of good listening and, perhaps, most importantly, open up their minds to other ideas and opinions, which just might offer productive solutions. Must-have ingredients for a well-rounded, wise and dedicated public servant! For one to be confined within the boundaries of a political party’s rhetoric limits one’s thoughts in such a way that one’s imagination and brain expansion are stymied.
Worthy of mentioning is the debatable (to some) aspect of Wayne’s demeanor that he has the courage to agree or disagree with specific legislation whether it falls within or without the framework of a party’s ideologies. Better this attitude, I think, than not voting one’s conscience due to the possibility of losing an election. As I have heard him say often, he has to live with himself. Having the fortitude to stand up for what one believes and, additionally, open minded enough to consider other avenues of thought, results in a secure, self-assured individual. A life’s lesson which would add strength and stability to all our backbones and character.
Just in case this letter is looked upon as another “dirty trick”, let me stipulate here that this letter was my own doing, unknown by Wayne and his staff.
The holiday season is a perfect time for the community to remember our service men and woman serving overseas who put their lives at risk for us. I am asking for the public’s help and support for gifts to send to our heroes. During the month of November, the American Legion will be assisting me in collecting items that will help make our soldiers days a little easier.
Suggested items are powdered drink mixes (i.e. crystal light, gatorade, ice tea, coffee), telephone calling cards, chewing gum, canned fruit and nuts, sunglasses, suntan lotion, Slim Jim’s, beef jerky, board games (checkers, backgammon, chess) and playing cards, paperback books, cotton socks, toilet paper and mens and ladies toiletries including Advil, Tylenol, aspirin, Tums, toothpaste and toothbrushes, dark hand towels and wash cloths, emery boards and nail clippers, foot powder, talcum powder, body lotion, chap stick, deodorant, shampoo & conditioners. Please no liquids and no perishables.
If you would rather donate cash funds, it would be greatly appreciated.
Black collection containers have been placed at the following drop off locations: Ocean Pines Library, Berlin Library, Ocean City Library, American Legion Post 166 on Coastal Highway, and American Legion Post 123 in Berlin.
Let’s all take the time to remember our heroes who serve for our country and let them know we support them.
All containers will be collected by Nov. 30. If you have any questions, call Carl Foultz at 410-641-7667. Thank you so much for your help.