Thoughts From the Publisher’s Desk

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Now that Ocean City has its own vanity license plate, it should be interesting to see how sales go. According to the City Clerk’s office, more than 100 applications have been submitted so far for the vanity plates, an example pictured inset. The fee is $35 payable to the town of Ocean City and the applications can be found at City Hall or at www.town.ocean-city.md.us. This is more of a publicity and public relations thing than a money generator, as I suspect a good portion of the fee is directed at the manufacturing of the plate, but I look forward to seeing how many folks end up with these on their vehicles and whether it will be a short-term fad or something that endures over the years.  I know I will be peeking at the first motorists I see with the new plates. Just as I do whenever I see those clever license plate sayings involving Ocean City now on the back of vehicles. We have all seen them. Some memorable ones for me include “2OC4ME”,“CUINOC” and “OhhSee”.

It was stunning to hear last week the State Highway Administration favors reconstructing the Route 50 Bridge and leaving the existing structure in place. The preferred alternative would essentially run parallel, albeit higher, to the existing structure, similar to the way the Cambridge span works. It will feature a fixed span with a 45-foot clearance, resulting in a number of ramps needing to be constructed in Ocean City along Baltimore and Philadelphia avenues for access. The old bridge would remain for fishermen and bicyclists with vehicular access restricted. It was reported parking would need to be eliminated in some areas and traffic may not be able to access 1st or 2nd streets in many cases. It’s worth remembering any bridge construction is likely at least 10 years down the road, but it’s still worth noting how a study team views the future of the crossing. The preferred approach would cost about $400 million in today’s world, call for the acquisition of 45 properties and displace about 25 residents. Change sometimes is a good thing, but this plan would alter all of downtown from an infrastructure perspective. Some would say that’s a good thing, but there’s no question this would have a drastic impact. I think Councilman Jim Hall had it right when he said, “The good thing is that there is no money available for this project right now. Alternative 4 wrecks downtown and puts a giant cloverleaf highway grid in the middle of downtown.”

All the inauguration coverage was overwhelming this week, but I admit I made sure to watch as much of it as possible on Tuesday and check out as many front pages on Wednesday as I could. During all the coverage of the inauguration, it was interesting to hear what all the pundits had to say about the president’s inaugural speech. Depending on which network you were watching or newspaper reading, the comments ran the gamut. The speech seemed fine to me, long on generalities and rhetoric and short on specifics and detailed plans, but that’s to be expected for that type of talk. Overall, it seemed like a fine speech to me. One phrase I think I will remember was the following: “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.” What I liked most about the speech was there was little talk about partisan politics, very little, if any, finger pointing. It was about the future and that’s appropriate for that kind of speech and stage in my opinion.

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