Thoughts from the Publisher’s Desk

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Each year I give some predictions for the coming year in this space. Here’s a look at how I fared with what I thought might take place this year. Some of my thoughts turned out to be accurate prognostications, some look ridiculous today and some are still hanging in the balance.

On The Money:

– I guessed that 60 percent of Marylanders would support slots in a referendum. In fact, in November, 59 percent of Marylanders voted to bring slots to the state. In Worcester County alone, 55 percent checked yes in the ballot box.

– I was right when I predicted unleaded gasoline prices would exceed the $3.50 mark during the summer. I suggested the town’s ad agency would come up with a major media blitz to combat the high gas prices. Although it was not specifically targeted at gas prices, a new summer campaign was launched, the now-famous “the world is ending” campaign, which resulted in national attention.

– I wrote that an ordinance would be approved making Smith Island Cake the official dessert of Maryland. It was approved and cash registers have been zinging ever since. Chocolate and peanut butter is still my favorite.

– I predicted Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan would secure another term after the town’s filing deadline expired in September 2008. That’s exactly what happened when he ran unopposed.

– I wrote, “It will be more of the same as far as tourism goes in the Ocean City area next summer – in general, not great but not terrible either.” By nearly all accounts, there was nothing remarkable about the summer either way.

– “At least one new face will be elected to the Berlin Mayor and Council after the fall election,” is what I predicted. That turned out to be true with Councilwoman Lisa Hall earning a seat. What I could not have predicted was Tom Cardinale’s passing, Gee Williams’ ascendancy to the throne and Troy Purnell’s election to fill Williams’ vacant District 1 council seat.

– Although weather would cause some headaches, I predicted the Route 50 bridge would re-open after resurfacing work in time for the Presidents Day holiday. Crews actually opened it a little earlier than that.

– Although it did not turn out to be a bold prediction, I suggested rumors will surface that Osama bin Laden has died, but a blurry, grainy video image would confirm he’s alive. That did happen, as it has for the last seven years.

Off The Mark:

– I predicted Sen. Hillary Clinton would defeat Rudy Guiliani to become president. Oops. Of course, Barack Obama easily defeated John McCain in that race.

– “The old Ocean City library branch will be transformed into city office space.” Yikes, that did not happen. It was demolished and is now a parking lot.

– I predicted the state would increase the liquor tax to combat declining property assessments. Legislators did not do that, but they did raise just about every other tax earlier this year.

– Hundreds of subway cars will be dumped off Ocean City’s coast. While there were many dumped off the coast, the number was a little under 100.

– I predicted outrage when a businessman announced plans to open a strip joint in the northern part of the county. That did not happen, but, for what it’s worth, an outside-the-area strip club owner did try to run for Ocean City Council in the fall.

– “To prove to the media it cannot dictate public policy, County Commission President Jim Purnell will remain in that post for most of the year,” I wrote. I was right that the commissioners kept Purnell in the post a couple months longer than usual because of an editorial in this paper seeking for him to step down. The idea was the commissioners wanted to delay the move so it did not appear like the press was deciding public policy. Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who was removed earlier this month in favor of colleague Louise Gulyas, eventually replaced Purnell as president.

– I said the New England Patriots would defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl in February. It was the Giants who surprised the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Still Up In The Air

– I predicted the state would take no action to combat the rash of accidents at the dangerous intersection of Routes 113 and 12. The state did make some adjustments, but there has been no light added as safety advocates desire and the injuries mount.

– I predicted that Florida’s Jeb Bush would announce his candidacy for president in 2012 after the Democrats take over the White House. That has yet to happen and he was not involved at all in this year’s race.

– I predicted after the slots referendum passed that talk would commence on how to help Route 589 better accommodate increased traffic, that a stoplight would be erected in front of the track and a proposal would surface to add two lanes to the roadway. None of that is happening right now, at least publicly, but I stand by this prediction and continue to think this will happen.

– It was suggested another offshore wind farm proposal would be heard by the Ocean City Mayor and Council and that the council would express conceptual support and end the year awaiting more specifics. The council was approached by Bluewater Wind, which wants to build 200 wind turbines standing nearly 30 stories. Concerns were expressed about whether the wind turbines would be visible from land with some council members saying they would not support them if they could be seen from the beach. More is expected on this proposal in 2009.

Stay tuned next week for this year’s predictions.

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