Thoughts From The Publishers Desk

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Campaign signs are sprouting up all over. Leading the way in Berlin as far as signs posted by our unofficial tally is interim Mayor Gee Williams followed closely by Thom Gulyas, a District 2 council candidate. As far as aesthetics go, the nod has to go to Gulyas, who may have an advantage on others because he owns an established printing company in town. Gulyas’ competitors, Lisa Hall and Jason Walter, each have their fair share of signs dotting the landscape as well. Sitting out the sign competition thus far is former Mayor Rex Hailey, who wants to be mayor again. What’s interesting to me, and something I have not noticed during previous election cycles, is some property owners do not seem to be picking a side. At least two properties I have spotted in town are hosting all three District 2 candidate signs. It could be the property is vacant and the signs were just placed by the candidate or perhaps the resident simply wants to add some color to their lawns. Either way, it’s a little unusual, as most property owners choose a side before allowing a sign on their property. For instance, our Berlin office, home to no political signs for the record, is surrounded by property owned by developer Troy Purnell. Clearly, based on the signs on his land, it’s interesting to note he is supporting Williams for mayor and Gulyas for council.

It has been interesting to hear the reaction to William Steiner, owner of a skin joint on the western shore who filed for office in Ocean City. In the world of the Internet, anyone can utilize “google” to get the lowdown on a person. Therefore, word spread quickly about Steiner, who is mired in a lawsuit with another county on the shore involving his intention to open a strip club in Denton. The reaction locally was uproar. People were appalled someone in this business would or even could run for office. One person even asked, “what are you going to do about it?” The answer is we will interview him, see what he stands for and present it to the readers. You can find that story in this paper today. The implication was we should bury him because of his line of work and because he had no right seeking elected office. That’s not our job. The voters will decide that.

There was an interesting editorial in The Sun on Wednesday about the impact of a plan to transfer teacher pension funding responsibility from the state to the individual counties. “The end result: no cuts to teacher pensions, no drop in education funding but a policy that local governments share the burden of teacher pensions. That’s not a “doomsday” scenario; it’s a sensible approach to financing schools,” the editorial read.  This is on point in my view, but the details are still sketchy at best and state legislators will need to iron out a fair law next year. It’s one thing to make counties assume all the responsibility of teacher pensions with the passage of one law. Our of fairness, it would need to be phased in over a matter of years. One legislator is calling for all increases in future teacher pension costs beyond next July to be funded by local governments. This type of a sharing plan is acceptable. It’s that radical transfer of all pension plans involving educators to the local level that scared local officials because it would cost millions of dollars. It would only be fair that the county approving the weekly pay scale be accountable for its decisions 30 years from now.

The headaches that metropolitan commuters feel every day will be coming to the area for the next couple months. It was confirmed this week the Route 50 repaving project eluded the latest round of state transportation funding cuts and is on target to begin on Monday if the weather cooperates. The scope of the project is essentially all of West Ocean City, from the Route 50 Bridge to Herring Creek in both directions. That’s a two-mile stretch of road that will see resurfacing work. Another fives miles of eastbound lane work will take west of Route 346 and the Worcester-Wicomico line. Lane closures and backups are expected periodically during the week.

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