Thoughts From The Publishers Desk

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With the summer around the corner and most in the local business community simply hoping for the best this season, Ocean City got some much-needed timely exposure. In last Friday’s USA Today, Ocean City was mentioned under a story headlined ‘cheap tricks, money-saving tips for summer getaways both near and far’. The story was broken into three categories – hotels, airfares and road trips – and offered ways for vacationers to save some money in these tight times. Under hotels was Ocean City’s standard photo of a crowded, hotel-lined beach. The cutline read, “Stay on the beach, and you could get burned: But a hotel near the beach (Ocean City, Md., for example) could save you as much as 20%)” It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s free publicity nonetheless and addresses an affordability issue that often surfaces when comparing Ocean City to other possible destinations. What would have been better is if the article touched on the variety of family vacation packages currently being offered in Ocean City, blending hotel stays, meals, entertainment and beach amenities. That message needs to get out.

What happens when a man confesses to a murder? Charges should obviously be filed and the man should be held in jail until his day in court. However, that does not mean the killer’s statement of how the incident unfolded should be assumed as fact. The case of the West Ocean City woman killed in her own home last week is the perfect example. I do not buy this killer’s confession. I believe he killed the woman, but the man’s story simply does not add up. There are too many strange statements that do not make sense. The bottom line is the man admitted he took another’s life. He will likely be convicted of second-degree murder and will therefore be punished accordingly. However, simply because his story is the only one available does not mean it has to be held as truth. As much as the justice system will try to discover the facts, only two people will ever know exactly what occurred in that house. It’s unfortunate a killer’s account of the incident is all that’s left for authorities to go on because it’s not what happened and makes closure difficult to come by for those close to the victim.

No matter which side you found yourself on in the recent controversy regarding the future of Ocean City fire service, it’s hard to argue with the fact new Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore is not accepting a salary for the post. To put this in perspective, it’s important to understand Ocean City department heads are compensated tremendously well with some receiving in excess of $100,000 a year in salary alone. Add to this the best health insurance and pension around and it’s a wonderful gig. Of course, with it comes responsibility and headaches, but these folks are rewarded well. Larmore should be recognized for not accepting a city salary while a permanent fire chief is sought. It’s a tremendous act of altruism and confirms the chief’s understanding of the big picture and long-range goal here.

Former Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dan Barufaldi was terminated from a similar position at the Charles County Chamber of Commerce this week. The local chamber hired Barufaldi in November 2005. He resigned in January 2007 and took the job in Charles County, but not before publicly criticizing chamber officials here to a newspaper reporter and essentially anyone who would listen. Charles County Chamber of Commerce President Helen Heier was reserved with her comments when I called her this week. She did confirm he was no longer with the chamber, but she could not elaborate because “everything has not been settled yet.” The fact he is no longer with the Charles County Chamber in La Plata, Md. is not really news to our readers. As a matter of fact, I have to wonder whether most even recognize the man’s name. However, what makes it relevant is he recently filed a lawsuit against Ocean City’s chamber seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars. He alleges breach of contract among other mysterious claims and is seeking a jury trial.

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