Voices From The Readers

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Official Not Abiding

By Charter Change

Editor:

Thank you so much Steve Green for your recent article in “Between the Lines” on Friday, Oct. 3 in The Dispatch. You are right, it is campaign season, which is why I felt it necessary to address the issue of our city tax money being spent to settle a dispute of inappropriate behavior by Councilman Jay Hancock.

Since it has been stated that no one will respond to anonymous accusations, I will not remain anonymous. My name is LeAnn Price and I want to know why Mr. Hancock you thought it necessary to put your personal feelings above your commitment to the town of Ocean City. Why should citizens of Ocean City pay for your indiscretions? I am sure there are times when I have not agreed with Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, however, I do believe she deserves our support and respect. You Mr. Hancock, should know better, you yourself a 30-plus year retired police officer.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I cannot help but believe it has much to do with our police chief being a woman. It pains me to think, that in 2008, we are still even discussing such an issue but being a woman in construction for more than 25 years I know what transpires on the job site. Yet, it is still an issue and I can’t help but think back to last August 2007. At that time the City Council voted 6-1 in favor of making charter amendments that allowed for the change of the police commission from a supervisory to advisory board. This amendment was suggested by Mayor Rick Meehan. Thank you, Mr. mayor. And thank you Jim Hall for expressing your enthusiasm,

The amendment originally read that the commission “shall supervise and head the administration of the police department, with all matters being resolved by a majority vote of the commission”. The amended charter replaced the word “supervise” with “advise”. Who you might ask was the one vote who did not show support for this change? You guessed it, Mr. Jay Hancock, retired OCPD officer.

LeAnn Price

Ocean City

Leaders Setting Poor

Example For Others

Editor:

I am very concerned about the recent sex discrimination article about some City Council members and their treatment of our police chief. Why would reputable professional businessmen who act as our representatives behave in such a distasteful manner?

I am aware that when I spoke to a council member about a black city worker being verbally abused and harassed that I was told the work unit was a bunch of old men and change was unlikely. Recently a non-white city employee that a co-worker verbally abused him until he could barely stand to go to work. The worker said the manager did not stop the behavior. I had assumed that most city employees had mandatory training regarding worker issues and the law. Didn’t our City Council also agree to and attend such training?

Such activity directed at any city worker is not only disgusting but also illegal. It will continue if our leaders set poor behavior examples or until the voters demand and expect better.

Virginia Biafore

Ocean City

Article Criticized

Editor:

As one of the lawyers for BEKA Industries in its successful trial against the Worcester County Board of Education (tried over four days last week in the Circuit Court for Worcester County), I read with interest your news article regarding the case. The article was replete with factual errors, which was not surprising, since your news editor apparently did not seek out any comment from either my office or from BEKA Industries.

Preliminary, the judgment speaks for itself. The original action sought $1,157,000 from the board for its breach of contract with BEKA Industries, the site work contractor for the Ocean City Elementary School. The judgment was in the amount of $1,100,000 – a clear vindication of BEKA’s original assertions.

The evidence presented in open court showed that the Board failed in its obligations to fairly administer its contract with BEKA and the Court found that the Board failed to pay BEKA for monies that the Board owed to BEKA.

One would expect that a basic tent of fair journalism would be to seek out both sides to a story – especially one that had such a decisive outcome. I am disappointed that your newspaper failed its readers in this regard.

David D. Gilliss

Baltimore

Experience Needed

Editor:

This election year we hear much about change. However, we must recognize elected officials who consistently and confidently “do the right thing”, time and time again. In recent months, our city fathers were in negotiations between the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company, Ocean City government, plus others who wanted the volunteer fire company to fade away in favor of an all-paid fire service. The very same negotiations that resulted in a combined fire service, which saved taxpayers millions of dollars in wages and benefits costs each year. Ocean City faces many challenges ahead. We need people on the council with experience and leadership to tackle these challenges head on and art no afraid to act single handedly.

As a 35-year member of the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company, a life-long resident of Ocean City, a property owner and a business owner, I am asking you to vote for the incumbent who supported and will continue to support the Ocean City Fire Company and the Town of Ocean City with experience and leadership to tackle the challenges we have ahead.

J. Harrison Phillips III

Ocean City

City Attorney Job

A Result Of Cronyism?

Editor:

In his recent letter Dick Quinn raised interesting questions about money the city has paid to private attorney Guy R. Ayres III for legal guidance. Assuming Mr. Quinn’s  information is correct; Mr. Ayres has received an average of a little over $250,000 per year over the past two years. Mr. Quinn suggests that the city could save money by hiring a full time staff attorney. I believe that is unlikely. I am guessing that an experienced, qualified attorney would command a salary of at least $150,000, probably more. You would also need a secretary and/or paralegal at $30,000 to $50,000 each to actually do the work. Add to that another 30-40% for benefits for these positions, and soon you are above the amount currently being paid to Mr. Ayres. And these employees would probably be sitting on their hands half the time because I doubt that the work load is sufficient to keep them busy full time. And even worse, they would still be hiring outside attorneys for specialized consultation in areas where they lacked expertise. Also, once you add a position to the city paroll, it is nearly impossible to ever get rid of it. This is the fundamental nature of bureaucracy.

More interesting to me is how the city attorney is selected. Is there competitive bidding on a defined consulting contract? Is he selected by the council? If it’s true that Mr. Ayers has been doing the job for the past 15 years or more, why is that so? Is it because there is no one else interested in and qualified to do the job? Has his work for the city been exemplary? Does he bear any responsibility for the losses the city has incurred in recent lawsuits?

In companies I have worked for, it was the policy to rebid vendor and consultancy contracts periodically to contain costs and keep people honest. Sometimes when a consultant becomes too comfortable in a position, there is a tendency for them to charge more and work less. I have no idea if that is the case here, but when I see situations like this at any level of government, it causes me to wonder if there is cronyism at work. Perhaps Mr. Ayres or someone else can answer these questions and put our taxpayer minds at rest. If one does not wish to write a letter to the editor, I would welcome any further information at my email address, lawncutter@hughes.net.

Steve Whitmer

Ocean City

Taxpayers Bear Cost

Of Insurance Tactic

Editor:

Stop employer “paid for” health insurance for employees medical expenses and save us all money. Wait, bear with me and read further.

Under our tax laws, all employer expenses, such as “paid for” health plans are an income tax deduction for the employer. He/she enters it as part of his/her cost of goods sold or government, thus as an expense it gets to be part of the government’s cost of producing the item or service, or produced by the employer or government.

Two things happen: The employer or government gets a tax deduction and therefore lowers their income tax burden. That is they pay less taxes and we pay more or more importantly, the paid for item is added to the cost of the goods/services our government produced. Thus, we, as consumers or taxpayers pay more when we purchase the item or services presented to us when we purchase it.

Consequently, the more health insurance is paid for the more expense we as taxpayers bear. The employers actually pay nothing since they pay less taxes and is repaid as the item or service goes up the economic chain, the consumer bearing the cost of it all. That’s not sharing. It is undue bearing. It doesn’t benefit us all in the long run. The result is inflation. Ask yourself, have things gotten more expensive during my lifetime? This answers why?

The reason is we’ve been sold a bill of goods by the socialist liberals in Congress or government. We’d all benefit if this so-called employee benefit were eliminated right now. Think about it.

Jim McGinniss

Ocean City

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