Politics Ruining OC
After much thought, soul searching, conversations with my wife, family and close friends, I made the decision that I can no longer sit back and allow politics to continue to ruin our community. I am not “a come here”. I have lived all my life in Ocean City. When I finished college and law school, it was my desire and decision to come back to the wonderful community where I was raised to help contribute to the continued health, safety and welfare of its citizens. Never did I imagine our future would become molded by the politics and greed that has surfaced.
We have elected a mayor and certain councilpersons, allowing them to remain in office indefinitely, who have their own agendas. No thought is given to the taxpayers or citizens and how their decisions will affect our future. In the past several years they have managed to turn our family resort into a place where families can no longer afford to visit and bring their children. Their ideas are to tear down to build bigger. Now our family resort is overloaded with empty expensive condos, ($1,000,000 plus price tags). Most of the family friendly affordable restaurants and shops have been replaced by these condos.
The council’s latest “project” is to ignore our 100 years plus Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company’s (OCVFC) needs over the paid fire EMS supervisor. What a slap in the face to not only our OCVFC, but also our taxpayers, residents and citizens. A paid fire company could cost the taxpayers many more dollars per year. We are talking about union paid personnel. This has been a wonderful job of manipulation on the part of the mayor and his “cronies”. Little by little, piece by piece, this has been accomplished to the detriment of our community. The OCVFC’s service to our community has been above reproach. Its members have been dedicated and caring. The members have sacrificed time with their families to insure the health and safety and welfare of our community for more than 100 years. Shame on you Mayor and City Council for the stance you have taken. What a slap in the face to our Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company, our most cherished asset.
In case your readers are unaware, this is a result of the Mayor and Council last week passing a no confidence vote to our OCVFC. When the Mayor and City Council were faced with the OCVFC problems that were coming forth with the Fire/EMS Director their response has been work it out. How dare the mayor and council ignore our volunteer firemen by not addressing their needs. Remember these men and women volunteer their time for their satisfaction is protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community and for nothing else.
It is about time we come forward, speak up and question the actions of our elected officials. We must make sure their decisions are not made behind closed doors in secret and that we, the taxpayers and citizens use our voice by exercising it.
J. Harrison Phillips, III
Some Respect Please
During the summer of 1983 I was employed by the Town of Ocean City as a member of the OCPD.
I can vividly recall the morning in 1983 my roommate, also an OCPD officer came home after working his shift to report there was a fire that night at the Saute Cafe and a member of the OCVFC died trying to extinguish it. There was a true sense of loss across not just the public safety arena but from the entire town.
This past weekend I and three other families went to O.C. as we have President’s Day weekend for the past 10-plus years and was surprised to find that the front page of the local papers talked of the OCVFC moving out of town. I took the opportunity to watch the council meeting several times on local access TV to see if there was any sense to what was going on and after all that I find myself sending an email at 11 p.m. saying this was a mistake to allow such a dedicated group of citizens leave the town.
I have been in the police department and now serve as an emergency management director in the federal government so I can appreciate the need for one chief and both recognize the volunteer chief until such time as a permanent chief can be selected. The only sense of objection appeared to come from the ivory towers of City Hall where no one has to put themselves in harms way. It is very rare you see paid professionals (unions) and volunteers agreeing to such an arrangement unless there were true risk associated with their safety.
As a member of a family who owns property in town, I would ask you to revisit your position. I would encourage you to listen to Councilman Hall, who wrote a letter in the paper asking his colleagues to rethink this very important decision. This is not about egos this is about using common sense. For those of you who think of this from a business perspective as we have made O.C. all about business of late, think of this; why would the MD State Volunteer Fireman Association want to have a convention in a town that will not support its own volunteer fire department? How many families want to come to a town that has an emergency response system that will be stressed? Why do we want to dismantle a volunteer program that has served us so well in order that we ultimately have to pay more to get the same level or less service.
Yes damage has been done and I truly believe if the election was tomorrow it may not be repairable for some political careers but there is no election tomorrow thus you have time to demonstrate you still have some common sense, love for the town and know the value of the OCVFC has to the residents and visitors of O.C. As for the trust of the OCVFC, it has been scared and this is causing many to ask why do I want to put myself in this position to become a victim on the next response when I am not respected. There is a special make-up of a person who leaves the safety of their own home to help others in need and I believe time will heal that if given the opportunity. This is not the time to be politicians but citizens and community leaders of the town of O.C.
We need to take several immediate steps to undo the damage from last week’s work session. Grant Chief Larmore the responsibility he requested. It’s a no-brainer to honor his request. We don’t want the volunteers to think we‘re not behind them or their leader. He could be free and cost the taxpayers not a dime. He seems capable and deserves a chance. The volunteers don’t trust our government with its open ended and shallow promises. Maybe another change is in order. Our City Council president might offer to step down as president and let our vastly more experienced member Jim Hall take the reins of president. The volunteers trust him and by making this move I’ve been told they would probably abandon their exit move.
Make no mistakes council members, this is one of your most important decisions screaming to be made. No cope out excuses like “I need to review memos” that were made two months ago. That won’t fly anymore. And please no more chicken-crap abstaining. Chief Larmore was asking to be brought under your rule. We already have a police chief that is more of a political pawn than a policeperson. Is this our hidden agenda for the EMS? This power play has been trumped by our volunteers and we need to back pedal fast. They win. Is that so bad?
Mayor Meehan, Council President Mitrecic, Council persons Howard, Knight and Martin, if we don’t fix this fast, you will have made the biggest multimillion dollar screw-up ever, costing the taxpayers millions every year. Your efforts and votes must be recast immediately. Don’t let this happen on your watch.
Councilwoman Pillas, you are no “housewife” councilperson. You’re tireless research and tenacity at that work session impressed a lot of people very much. I though you were Vince Gisriel in women’s clothing. Please take that as a highest political compliment and take a bow. Councilman Hall, if you presided over that session, I believe we wouldn’t be in this situation. We needed leadership. That vote if postponed only one more week would have eliminated excuses for further research and digestion.
Council President Mitrecic please step aside for the taxpayers. You’ll have plenty of time to regain political face. That gesture would be huge and show you care more about our city than your ego.
I’m sorry for being so blunt and making these criticisms after the fact with the advantage of hindsight, but this is a major issue.
OC Gone Too Far
I read with interest your Op-Ed in as well as the story on the recent decision by our esteemed Mayor and City Council to essentially diss the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company after more than 100 years of distinguished service to this community.
As an OC property owner for more than 30 years, I have observed the gradual slide in the quality of life in our community from overdevelopment to the pollution in the bay, etc. Much of it in recent years is due to our city fathers’ belief that they know what is best for the rest of us. Actually, these good old boys have totally lost touch with the majority of folks in town or worse. The current political climate is not too promising for incumbents as evidenced by the recent Maryland primary election results. Perhaps it is high time to throw these rascals out at the earliest opportunity.
I recently became a permanent resident of OC since I am semi-retired and also because I wish to be able to vote in municipal elections. As a condo owner I was not able to do so. Considering that OC condo owners fund almost the entire OC budget, I am appalled that this latest irresponsible decision by the mayor and council is not only not going to lead to lower taxes but, if anything, higher taxes. Something must be done to stop these incompetent, irresponsible, and arrogant officials who have once and for all violated the public trust. They have finally gone over the top, or as you said in your Op Ed, they "have gone too far."
P. John Ufholz