What an unfortunate mess the situation involving the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce and former Executive Director Dan Barufaldi has become. In a case that should have never made it to the inside of a courtroom, a Worcester County Circuit Court jury last week ruled the chamber violated the terms of an employment contract outlining Barufaldi’s employment, ordering the chamber to pay him $60,000, which is essentially half of what he was seeking.
It’s no secret the chamber made some serious mistakes with Barufaldi, starting with hiring him in the first place and previously failing to adequately investigate his questionable employment record. Matters were exacerbated with a poorly worded and ambiguous employment contract once he was brought aboard. Nonetheless, the bottom line here is the jury got it wrong. The chamber should not have to pay this former employee one penny, as he did more harm than good during his brief stint here. Though this case has been a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the chamber and its leadership, the day Barufaldi resigned the organization became stronger and more reputable.
Whatever the chamber decides to do regarding an appeal, the fact remains some mistakes were made, but $60,000 is way too costly of a price to pay for a couple missteps. Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of the entire saga is it’s distracting a group of small business people from their own operations at a time when their full attention is needed.
Speaking of salvia, it got some front-page attention this week in The Sun. It’s fun for me to be on the side of dishing out criticism at a newspaper, as I am often the person fielding it. While it’s not any newspaper’s duty to promote Ocean City or any other vacation destination, for that matter, a case can be made this week’s front-page article on Tuesday showed poor judgment and maybe even a bit irresponsibility. The story, headlined “Staying above water,” details how Ocean City is coping with the realities of the economy by increasing advertising and offering discounts. The article included a front-page photo of a Boardwalk merchant in his store. The photo featured “Salvia” in neon letters above a bust of a character smoking a huge joint with another neon light having something to do with piercing. On the jump page, the photos, a general shot of the Boardwalk and another of restaurateur and hotelier Bill Gibbs, were a little more appropriate and representative of the resort if you ask me.