Voices From The Readers

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Absurdities Cloud Booze Beach Debate

Editor:

You just can’t make up stuff like this. Councilman Jim Hall needs to ask, “What’s the difference between sitting on your deck having a burger and a beer and sitting under your umbrella on the beach having a burger and a beer?”

Well, one difference that comes to mind is that in the latter circumstance one does not have the ability to have three or four beers and ruin my and my family’s day at the beach through obnoxious behavior. Of course, the upside is that falling on the beach is not nearly as dangerous as falling off a deck. Let’s not forget that every 20-year-old that visits our fair town will most likely be back the following summer after turning 21.

I like Jim Hall and voted for him, but let’s not frame this discussion in absurdities. Let’s simply admit that we are ready to do nearly anything to get vacationers to come to our town and spend their money.

Bob Kimmel

Ocean City

County Wrong To Cut All Diakonia Fundnig

Editor:

What could the Worcester County Commissioners be thinking when they decide to eliminate any funding in their upcoming budget for nonprofit organizations like Diakonia?

In these dire economic times, government at every level must ensure that our “social safety net” is intact, not eliminated. Much as we might complain about our dwindling retirement accounts or portfolios, the disadvantaged and homeless in our county are suffering far more than we are.

Diakonia is the only provider of comprehensive emergency and transitional housing for men, women, and families on the lower shore and is seeing a massive increase in requests for assistance. Without local government funding (Worcester County allocated only $20,000 last year), Diakonia will be unable to seek various federal grants because the feds require local (government) matching dollars. Local businesses and private individuals will, of course, continue to support the organization, but Worcester County’s elimination of funding will have a devastating effect on Diakonia’s ability to provide services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

At a time when we spend $160 per day to house a prisoner in the county jail, Diakonia helps a homeless person get his/her life in order for just $30 per day. The commissioners’ decision to cut out funding is short-sighted at best and mean-spirited at worst.

Kate McQueen

Berlin

OC Concerns Detailed

Editor:

(The following was addressed to Mayor Rick Meehan and the City Council.)

I am writing to express my concern and disappointment with my visit to Ocean City over the weekend. I ask that you please read this with an open mind looking to improve OC especially in these very difficult financial times.

The purpose of my visit to OC was to select an area where I would like to establish a business. It happens that we found many locations that would suit our needs and planned on following up on the properties this coming week. However, I have to say that as our day concluded we decided a quick walk down the Boardwalk would make for a great evening adventure. Well, to say the least, it was an adventure.

I am sad to say that while walking past the Sunset Beachware storefront with my wife and three daughters, ages 8, 11, and 17 we were greeted with loud music that I initially ignored until the “f-word” roared through the air in the song that was playing. How embarrassing and inappropriate for any public place. So, we made it past there and decided that it would be best for my wife and the girls to wait near Tony’s Pizza and I would go get the car so they would not have to be subjected to that again. Well, needless to say the music was now referencing sex acts. I felt good that my family was not there but waiting my arrival. I continued on and encountered the Henna Tattoo store immediately next to the Ripleys store and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, more “f-words” roaring from the music playing in the store.

I have to say, I believe in freedom of speech and I think it’s important to allow people to express themselves. I do not agree with profanity in public places. It is not acceptable to have such vulgar and insidiousness taking place on the Boardwalk that attracts so many families and there were families walking around.

As well, the T-Shirt’s displaying characters urinating on NFL logos along with statements that demean and degrade women is ridiculous. Okay, if you can’t control what they sell, fine, but do you have to allow it to be hung on racks outside of the store for children to read and see?

I have to say we almost made a fatal financial decision to locate our business in the downtown area of OC, but that will not happen.

I don’t know how I could help, as I usually do not make comment without solutions but it’s unfortunate that the atmosphere seems to contradict the underlying theme of the council meetings I’ve watched on TV and the articles I have read in The Dispatch and OC Today.

The other sore spot for me is the adult store next to Captains and Cefaloni’s Deli. What do you tell an 8-year-old who reads quite well when they start asking what are adult toys and lubricants, etc.? Granted sex is natural for adults, let’s not continue to confuse the generations by allowing these types of stores to corrupt. I really thought these places were not allowed in OC.

I suppose an atmosphere that is tolerant of this type of behavior will invite more trouble, but when the police blotter is full of drug, alcohol, prostitution and assault crimes there will be no one to blame but those who allowed it to continue.

Thank you for taking the time to read this as I am hopeful that this will be heard in the spirit of making OC a better place to visit.

Vince Cannuli

Save Open Space Funds

Editor:

(The following letter was sent to Maryland State Senate President Michael V. Miller and State Senator Lowell Stoltzfus.)

Editor:

As a resident of Worcester County, MD I ask you to please maintain Program Open Space funding this legislative session.

Maryland’s land conservation programs are investments in our future that we cannot afford to cut. It is critical that we restore funding to Program Open Space in the Senate budget.

As you well know, over here on the coastal bays, we have to fight for every scrap of funding because we are not as visible or as ‘in the news’ as the Chesapeake Bay. But that doesn’t mean the coastal bays aren’t in need of funding support for POS projects that protect the health of our watershed.

I ask you, respectfully, to think of Maryland’s environment as ‘state infrastructure’ – just as you would think of a bridge, a highway, a wastewater or stormwater system. The Pocomoke River is just as important to our economy as Rt 113, except the river is already there! You don’t have to expend funds to build it or improve upon it, however we do need funding to protect it.

This also applies to our coastal bays watersheds. If the bays are fouled by runoff from heavily developed land, over fertilized farmland, too many septic systems, who will want to fish in them? Who will want to boat in them? Imagine what that does to the Ocean City economy and if Ocean City slows down, so do tax and fee revenues to the State. Not to mention all the revenues you collect because of the coastal bays boating industry and recreational industry in Worcester County.

Funding for Program Open Space helps us to maintain a healthy land use plan, but it has already severely diminished due to the economic slowdown. Since 2007 Program Open Space funding has been reduced by over $250 million. We cannot afford further cuts.

Thank you for considering my comments and I hope you will consider the possibility that environmental funding in the State of Maryland is an investment in the infrastructure of our State. I not only speak for the water when I ask you to please consider the above, I speak for the thousands of people in the coastal bays watershed who have jobs that depend on a healthy watershed, clean water and a dynamic tourist economy.

Kathy Phillips

Berlin

(The writer is the Assateague Coastkeeper and the executive director of the Assateague Coastal Trust.)

Association Letter

Needs Clarification

Editor:

The property owners in Montego Bay do not deserve to be subjected to the misinformation conveyed in the letter from Dennis and Nancy Julian.

Although the Julians have owned property in Montego Bay since 2000, they clearly have little understanding of the finances and operations of the association. We are a 40-year-old HOA community of 1,523 properties with substantial amenities and property to manage and maintain. There is no outside management firm. Gratuitous salaries have been paid to our four officers for more than 20 years; the current amount represents about 6 percent of our income. No raises have been voted by the Board for officers for two years. Despite the numerous hours most of our Board members contribute to conducting the business of the association, they are not paid. The Board voted a raise for our two employees this year, the amount of which constitutes less than 1 percent of our income.

Our expenses, including salaries, have been clearly presented to our property owners. To date, 40 percent of the annual assessments (which is not due until June 1) has been paid without one negative comment.

To my knowledge, the Julians have never attended a Board meeting nor has Mrs. Julian ever volunteered to help with Association operations. Mr. Julian did accept $100 from the association last year in gratitude for a volunteer program in which he participated.

Our association has an open policy of discussing any and all details of our operations with our members. The Julians have not taken the time to get the facts, nor did they bother to send their objection to the president of the association. I have invited the Julians to meet with me to get the complete and accurate facts regarding the finances and operations of the association.

Andrea Albrecht

Ocean City

(The writer is the treasurer of the Montego Bay Civic Association.)

Hearing Could Lead

To New Energy Course

Editor:

Scottish-Americans of a certain age still celebrate April 6th as the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, a 690-year-old edict asserting Scotland’s independence from England. Perhaps it’s appropriate then that on April 6, 2009 residents of Maryland will have their own unique opportunity to declare independence – not from the feudal lords of Newcastle, but from far away people and places from whom and which our country is forced to import nearly two-thirds of its essential energy.

Come Monday, officials from the Interior Department will be setting up shop a few hours drive from Ocean City, conducting a field hearing in Atlantic City on whether our nation should pursue a new course on energy. At its core, the hearing will consider a fairly straightforward question: Can the safe and responsible development of energy resources offshore help achieve for our nation what no energy policy has been successful in doing the past 30 years?

Offshore energy exploration may not be the only answer to that question, but it certainly represents a good start. That’s because any balanced, comprehensive energy strategy must include three important components: greater efficiency of the energy we have, greater access to the energy we need, and greater investment in the technology of tomorrow that will allow us to generate more energy from alternative, renewable sources. 

All told, the federal government estimates that more than 86 billion barrels of American oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of American natural gas lay ready to be discovered offshore – a total take equivalent to 50 years of imported oil from OPEC. But the truth is, decades-long, federally-enforced bans have prevented us from even being able to go out there and take a look. You don’t have to be a rock-ribbed proponent of offshore drilling to support the idea that such an arrangement needs to change. Monday’s hearing represents the first step in that process, and if successful, far from the last. 

Ocean City is a beautiful resort town whose economy is founded on tourism and fishing – always has been, and always will be. But if the last several months have taught us anything, it’s that our visitors need affordable energy to make it to our resorts, and our fishermen (both sport and commercial) need affordable energy to make a living. Along with other states across the mid-Atlantic, Maryland finds itself today in the unique position of determining the path our nation takes on energy in the future. It’s a path that leads to energy independence, but one that’s been needlessly diverted over the years as other national objectives claimed a higher priority. 

Today, with an economy in peril and unemployment rolls compounding, there’s no greater priority than finding a way to generate new revenues and put Americans back to work. Safe and responsible energy exploration represents the only option capable of delivering on that objective without costing the taxpayers a penny. And come Monday in Atlantic City you’ll have the opportunity to make that fact known.

Holly Hopkins

(The writer is representing the Consumer Energy Alliance.)

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