Voices From The Readers

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Slots Will Help Local Community

Editor:

Like good nannies, Ocean City’s
leaders would have us believe they know what is best for you and me. They have
circled the waters and have lobbied up with Annapolis’s hired guns to protect us poor
uninformed minions from, gasp, slots.

Their reasoning is that slots
will bring blight and crime to this blessed community by the sea. Tourists and
locals, unable to think or fend for themselves, will frog-march with eyes
glazed over through the wicked gates of Ocean Downs hell-bent on squandering
granny’s milk money before reaching the protective moats of the Route 90 and 50
bridges.

In their zeal, the city fathers
cannot disguise what truly bothers them. Competition. Resembling selfish
parents watching over a spoiled child, they want the business monopoly they
have tweaked and coddled through the ages for themselves. They worry that some
of those cherished tourist dollars might not make it all the way across the
bridges to the boardwalk.

If you really want to see what
slots do for communities, drive over to Dover
or to Harrington and have a look around for yourself. You won’t find hardened
criminals peeking out of darkened corners. What you will find are immaculate,
well-run establishments offering good food and entertainment at fair prices.
And you will see many of your Maryland
neighbors as well judging by the plates in the parking lots.

Slots will bring needed
year-round employment and welcome diversion to Ocean City.
They will add to the state coffers in the current, hard economy. And slots will
help out racing, a Maryland
tradition not to be dismissed out-of-hand. Do we really want to see our lush,
beautiful horse farms replace by concrete strip malls? Do we really want the
Preakness moved to some other state where the movers and shakers aren’t quite
so priggish? It will be if the slots referendum isn’t passed. You can bet on
it.

Pity that Ocean City’s
ruling elite, fully adept at peering down their noses at the common citizenry,
can’t seem to see past their own self interests.

Gary Eagling

Ocean City

Freedom Sacrificed For A
Building Code

Editor:

Thomas Jefferson once
wrote that, “A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will
lose both, and deserve neither.”

Your recent article
about homeowner Steve Allen’s request for a building permit exception for his
stairway reminded me how much of our freedom we have sacrificed to government
bureaucracy. Apparently the “rise” of each of his steps, the vertical distance
from the top of one step to the top of the next, exceeds the city adopted
International Building Code maximum by 5/16’s of an inch. That is about the

thickness of a pencil for those of us who are metrically challenged.  Chief Building Inspection Official Mike

Richardson was quoted as saying, “Going down those stairs makes for a
precarious situation.” He actually said that in spite of the fact that Worcester County’s
code and that of all other counties in Maryland
apparently, allows an even higher rise than that of Mr. Allen’s stairs. This is
just absurd. I would bet my next tax rebate check that the average person going
up or down a stairway could not tell the difference between a rise of 7 ¾
inches and 8 1/16 inches. But that is beside the point.

The real point is that
the government bureaucracy, be it local, state or federal, should have no right
to intrude into our lives to this degree. If I want to get from my first floor
to my second floor by climbing on a stack of milk crates and an old step
ladder, it should be my business alone. Of course government officials try to
justify these rules and codes by claiming that they are needed to insure public
safety. They believe we need to be protected from ourselves. And to add insult
to injury, they use our own tax money to develop these bureaucracies, write
these complicated codes, hire these dictatorial inspectors to enforce them, and
further complicate every facet of our lives. I own my body. If I want to risk
falling down my own stairs it is my right, and if you don’t want to risk my
stairs, then don’t visit me, and don’t rent or buy my house. Ditto seatbelts
and motorcycle helmets. What ever happened to self-reliance and individual
accountability? If the government bureaucracy wants to apply a bunch of rules
and codes to public buildings, fine, but leave my home alone. Some people
actually believe they own their own homes, but in reality we only lease them
from the government. If you don’t believe that, then stop paying your property
taxes for awhile, or build a stairway that doesn’t conform to the local
building code.

I have a simple
practical solution to Mr. Allen’s problem. The city should require that he
install a permanent plaque at all entrances to his house stating, “Warning: My
stairs do not comply with the Ocean
City building code. Enter
at your own risk!” Of course it would need to be written in both English and
Spanish. But I have a feeling it won’t be that simple. If Mr. Allen is a major
developer, or an influential local business owner or politician, and especially
if he has made substantial campaign contributions to the right officials, then
it is possible that he will be able to resolve this problem at minimal
expense.  After all, if a major high-rise
condo development can be built five feet higher than the approved limit, then a
fraction of an inch in a stair riser should be no problem. However, if Mr.
Allen is just a plain old taxpaying citizen, then I would suggest that he grab
the K-Y and some aspirin, because he’s going to need it. I can only hope that
he is a die-hard liberal, for then at least, his situation would be poetic
justice.

We will probably never
get back the freedoms we have so recklessly forfeited. The primary goal of
bureaucrats is to grow their bureaucracies. By so doing they can justify bigger
budgets, higher salaries, and more jobs for friends and benefactors. The only
way to stop them is to close the purse strings, cut off the funds. Perhaps
people will get so frustrated some day that we will see a major tax revolt, but
it is not likely. Perhaps hard working people will begin to support Libertarian
efforts to reduce and restrict government at all levels to its constitutional
authority, but I doubt it. The portion of our population that has become
dependant upon the nanny state is growing by leaps and bounds, and they are voting
in increasing numbers for more government, and higher taxes for the rest of us.
And both major parties are pandering to their demands. We are closer to
socialism than most people realize. 

Steve Whitmer

Ocean City

Community Appreciated

Editor:

It is with humble
appreciation and sincere gratitude that we thank the entire Lower Shore

community for their overwhelming generosity during our most recent United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore community campaign. Such tremendous

support allows our local United
Way to distribute $1,285,500 to fund 57 different
non-profit health and human services programs in Wicomico, Worcester,
Somerset, and Dorchester Counties.
This is an all-time record high for our local United Way, which outside of government,
is the largest direct funder of local non-profit agencies on the Lower Shore.

In addition to thanking
the local community for helping reach such historic funding levels, we also
thank the United Way Community Investment Committee and Board of Directors for
volunteering their time to ensure accountability and efficient stewardship of
our donor’s dollars. One hundred percent of every individual’s donation to United Way stays
right here on the Lower
Shore…and this dedicated
group of volunteers work diligently to ensure all donations are directed toward
programs addressing the most pressing needs in our community.

In just a few days, we
will kick-off our 2008 community campaign with an ambitious goal to further
increase our investment in helping the less fortunate in our community. The
rising cost of energy, food, and transportation are further impacting families
who were already struggling to make ends meet. We look forward to an exciting
2008 Fall campaign and the opportunity to unite once again as a community and
continue our 64 year tradition of making a difference for those in need on the
Lower Shore.

Kathleen Mommè

Bill Middleton

(Momme is the executive
director of the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore, while Middleton is the
board president.)

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