(The following letter was addressed to the Snow Hill Mayor and Council with a copy forwarded to this publication.)
On May 4, 2009 at approximately 2:50 p.m., I witnessed Council candidate Rebecca Bowen deliver 11 absentee ballots to the front desk at city hall. Six of those ballots were unsealed, leading me and perhaps others to wonder if they had been tampered with
Ms Bowen’s above-referenced delivery is a graphic example of a campaign tactic she and Council Candidate Gerald Shockley have reportedly employed, specifically, encouraging potential voters to file absentee ballots, then being present when the ballots are filled out, and then taking them from the voters to personally hand-deliver to City Hall.
Reportedly, the person reportedly behind this tactic is Eddie Lee, who is currently the subject of an unresolved criminal investigation by the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s office for using exactly the same tactic in a recent Pocomoke City election.
As a registered voter in Snow Hill I find such behavior extremely troubling and suspicious: For a candidate or campaign worker to be allowed to be present when a voter is casting their ballot opens the door to voter intimidation, not to mention the possibility of favorable treatment, or retribution should the candidate be elected to office.
Further, to allow a candidate for office, or their friends, family-members or campaign workers to then take the ballots from the voters and personally deliver them to City Hall or other polls breaks the chain of custody for those ballots and raises legitimate concerns of ballot tampering.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the right of American citizens to cast secret ballots in public elections is the very bedrock upon which this nation was founded. No voter should suffer the threat of intimidation while voting and none should have their ballots taken from them by candidates before they are delivered to the polls. While evidence of voter intimidation and ballot tampering is thus far lacking, the fact remains that lax election laws in Snow Hill have clearly allowed some candidates to conduct themselves in such a fashion as to raise legitimate questions as to the freedom, fairness and openness of this election.
With these troubling points in mind, I hereby challenge the legitimacy of any absentee ballot delivered to City Hall, or designated polling place by any candidate, campaign worker, candidate’s family member, or friend of the candidate. And I ask that those ballots be disallowed and not counted.
Further, if said ballots play a significant role in electing Mr. Shockley and/or Ms. Bowen, I then challenge the election results as a whole. As my first level of challenge is before the Mayor and town council, I do not believe I can get a fair hearing if two of the council members were elected under the circumstances about which I issue this challenge.
OC Family Grateful
Saturday, April 25, 2009 was a beautiful day, and it was made even more wonderful by the outpouring of affection expressed toward Captain Robert S. Craig at his Beach Memorial Service. The Craig children and family appreciate all that was done to honor our “Pop,” a man so many in Ocean City have known and loved for so many years. The Beach Memorial was truly memorable and more special than we could have possibly imagined. We have many people to thank for their efforts in making it happen.
We learned very quickly that organizing such an occasion is a massive undertaking, but the support of the Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) and Lt. Ward Kovacs, our principal contact there, together with Captain Butch Arbin, was unfailing. We very much appreciate the weeks of preparation as well as the ministerial services of Lt. Kovacs, who is also a seminarian.
We extend special thanks to the speakers who so respectfully honored Captain Craig: Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (former OCBP); Delegate Jim Mathias; Worcester County Commission President Louise Gulyas; Mayor Rick Meehan, and Tom Perry, (former OCBP and representing the larger lifesaving community). Thank you all so much for your kind remarks. We are also extremely appreciative of the lovely solo performed during the wreath ceremony by Mary Mumford.
Ocean City officials stood ready to serve: Mayor Rick Meehan, City Manager Dennis Dare, Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald, and Public Relations Director Donna Abbott all contributed to the day. We would especially like to thank Bruce Gibbs, Superintendent of Maintenance, and his exceptionally able staff, for setting up the beach.
Additional thanks go to Chief Chris Larmore, Asst. Chief Kevin Kirstein, and Deputy Chief David Cropper, all of the Ocean City Fire Department for providing the ladder truck and large American flag at the boardwalk arch. The very talented Alison Carmody of Flowers by Alison designed the beautiful memorial wreath and provided the podium flowers. Bill Kelly (assisted by Don Patel) distributed programs; PFC Bruce Stender patrolled the beach on his stalwart steed; and others from the town and county were quietly present. We are also grateful for the photographers: Al Harrison and Kristin Joson (OCBP) and her assistant, Karen Attick, who documented the event, described as “the end of an era.”
Other OCBP members (past and present) played major roles, and for this we are grateful: we thank Captain Butch Arbin (for his heartfelt eulogy); Lt. Mike Stone (who served as emcee); and Sgt. Ryan Cowder along with Sgt. Nick Thompson (who served as honor guard at the wreath). Johnny Jarvis and Bobby Wagner led the lifeguard procession.
Lucky Jordan (former OCPB) stood in for Captain Craig’s brother, Frank [also former OCBP and who was unable to attend]; Lucky represented the earliest generation of lifeguards. SRT Daniel Kirstein represented the youngest generation, and we thank him for his role in ringing the bell. We appreciate the many lifeguards, past and present, who attended and who joined the honor guard.
Dr. Sean Williams (OCBP) played an integral part, in 52-degree water, in the release of the wreath to the sea. We also extend our gratitude to the United States Coast Guard, particularly Master Chief Don Carter and BM1 Christopher Karpf of the Ocean City Coast Guard Station. These fine servicemen arranged for the Coast Guard vessel to receive the wreath and carry it out to sea.
The memorial service concluded with the “retirement of Unit 1,” which seemed to touch the hearts of most in attendance. Thank you, Jason Hudson and Scot Wells of Ocean City Emergency Services for working with Capt. Arbin to execute that solemn ceremony. The Boardwalk procession, as well as Captain Craig’s “last tour of Ocean City” could not have happened without the support of Sgt. Kathy McCauley of the Ocean City Police Department. Thank you, Sgt. McCauley for coordinating the procession, which continued on to Whaleyville, and thanks also to Sgt. Hal Shields (Worcester County Sheriff’s Dept.) and the Berlin Police Department and to all the officers involved.
We are grateful for the contributions to the beautiful graveside service at Whaley Cemetery from Carolyn Conners, Joan Demko, Holly Hearne, and Sharon Walsh, and we appreciated the role played by Chip Dashiell (former OCBP) and his Masonic brothers in the service.
The reception that evening provided an opportunity for friends and former lifeguards to get together, and we thank Shirley and Brice Phillips, as well as Brian Mushrush and his extremely accommodating staff at Phillips Crab House, for all they contributed. Joel Brous of the Flamingo Motel and Malcolm Van Kirk of the Bay Sails Inn reserved blocks of rooms so that out-of-town guests could be assured accommodations on that busy weekend, and we thank them for that. We would also like to thank Susan Jones, Director of the Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Assoc. for her contributions.
Finally, as many know, our family has experienced much loss over the past several months, and we would like to offer a special “thank you” to Kirk Burbage of Burbage Funeral Home for his many kindnesses.
The Craig Family
Amazed At Generosity
Once again, the people and businesses of Ocean City have proved their generosity and compassion.
A little over a month ago, our sister-in-law Renee Roissier Miller, an Ocean City property owner and former full-time resident, was senselessly murdered. She left behind nine young children and a grieving husband, our brother Jamie Miller, who grew up in Ocean City.
Immediately, many of Renee and Jamie’s longtime friends dropped everything and went to be with the family. Soon after the funeral, they suggested having a combined memorial for Renee and fundraiser for her children here in Ocean City.
Due to the overwhelming response of every business and individual we contacted, the event was put together in only three weeks time. Hundreds of people attended the event at Seacrets to remember Renee and visit with her family.
Thank you to Ricco and the entire staff of Seacrets and owner Leighton Moore. Without their generous help and professional assistance none of this would have been possible.
On behalf of our brother and his children, we would like to thank all of those who attended personally to offer support and all the individuals and businesses who were so generous with their donations.
Jamie especially asked us to acknowledge a few special individuals whose efforts truly moved him. Dave Lilly, a workingman with eight kids of his own, humbled all and brought a flood of tears with his donated motorcycle for the auction. Mark Collins and family touched my brother’s heart with his amazing generosity for his fallen friend Renee and her grieving family, Kim Eck Griffin for her support and Bob Wilkinson for his endless help and assistance in organizing the fundraiser.
We have attempted to acknowledge all who shared their time, talent and treasure, please forgive us if we have failed to note your kindness. Please know that we are grateful.
Dave and Lisa Lilley, Mark and Dawn Collins, GrowMark, J.L. Cropper , Coastal Printing and Graphics’ Lance and Melody, Will Danaher and Sysco Food, Bob and Joanna Wilkinson, Terry and Jill Layton, Kevin McGinty, Kim Eck Griffin and Adolfo’s, Martin Furst and the OC Surfing Memorial Foundation, Mark Sampson and Fish Finder Adventures, Lisa Street, Bill Salvatore, Donoway Furniture and Vernon Davis and Jeff Donahue, Bruce Moore, John Fitzgerald, OC Rec. Boosters and Bill Paul, Bob and Millie Brown, Ed and Julie Smith, Rob and Century Carpet, Kari Story, Cindy and Howard Wimbrow, Calm Seas Massage, Brad McCabe, Cheryl Knowles, Fager’s Island and Ron Springer, Dottie Holloway, Eileen Smoot, Doug, Kay and Amy Brittingham, Cindy Gubosh, Sam Chmar, Phillips Restaurants, Judy Myers, Get It Done Cleaning, Victorian Charm, K-Coast, Frontier Town and Mitch Parker, Tequila Mockingbird, Mancini’s, Chauncey’s Surf Shop, UAP-Seaford Del., Howard Johnson’s 12th St, Fish Tales, Layton’s 92nd Street, The Shark, Harborside, Mike Grimes, Coconuts Beach Bar and Jeff Hicks, JR’s Ribs, Crab Bag, Angel and Chad Vent, Becki Graham, Marsha Stanton, Liquid Assets, Gary Feeheley, Breakfast Café, Ridge Harman and Lu, Nick Idoni’s House of Ribs, Mike and Patty Procino, Crabs to Go, Fun City and Bobby Short, Debbie Meinhardt, Upper Room Studio, Endless Summer, D. A Kozma, Terri Street, Christa Andrews, Bloom Designs, Taylor and Messick, Greenland Sod Farm, Dawn and Kelsey Collins, Dennison Landscaping, W.C. Littleton and Son, A & K Tackle, Candy Kitchen, O.C. Health and Racquet Club and Bev Furst, Lynn at 94th St Super Fresh, Mary Lynne Barrett, A Perfect Face Day Spa, Frog House Photography, Malibu’s, Seaside Deli, MR Ducks, Bonfire, Old Pro Golf, Sunset Grille, Rob Rider and Eden and Tye Associates, Heidi Johnson and Rosso and Pakula Associates, Bill Turner and RPA Associates, Troy Pavlitsa and Solution Sales, Pam Kurka and Kraft Foods, Bill Tasler and Hormel Foods, Fresco’s, Harrison’s Harbor Watch, BJ’s on the Water, Galaxy 66, Olive Tree, The Mill Outlet, The Framing Corner, Coconut Kids, OC Factory Outlets, Avery Gallery and Mandi, Bruder Hill, Tucker Mechanical, Duffy’s, Buxy’s Salty Dog, La Hacienda, Upper Room Studio, Greene Turtle, Greene Turtle West, Coaches Corner, Ellen Blocher, Angel Todd Gallagher, Paula Betz, Candi Noyes, Eva Hitchens-Stephens, Ellen Bunting, Glidden Paint, Rio Grande and Alva, Pottery Place, Dough Roller, Oyster Bay Bait and Tackle, Wayne Littleton and Believe In Tomorrow, Jim Parsons, Joey Sise, Kim Litt Hudson, Ken Tyler, Dr. Unks, Eastern Shore/Rich Roast Coffee, Lilly Farm, Doc and Holly Duvall, Hal Saylor, Joey Saylor, Alan Hogg, Carousel Ice Skating, Mark IV, Ocean City Florist, Ocean Atlantic, Surfer Girl Surfer Guy, WaWa-Keith, Visions Day Spa, Jiffy Lube, Sunsations, Jules, Shade Shack, Tan Seekers, Bayside Skillet, Sea Quest, Greenwood Farms, O’Neal Brothers, Bagels and Buns, Whiskers Pub, Kirby’s Pub, Tony’s Pizza, Wine Rack, Lombardi’s, Dumser’s, 7-Eleven 119th Street, T-Shirt Factory, Western Auto, Planet Maze, The Bearded Clam, Marlin Moon, Cork Bar, Snappers, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Tammy Schilling.
Special thanks to the bands, Opposite Directions, No Byscuyts, Chowder Foot, Full Circle, and Walt Farozic; Kara Fagerstrom, Balloon Twister; Mary Michelle Davis, Face Painter; and Shawn Soper of The Dispatch for the wonderful article he did.
For updates on the family and trial, visit www.reneeroissiermiller.com, which will continue to be updated.
Thank you and may God bless you all.
Terry Miller, Cathie Miller Fagerstrom, Jeanne Miller Gaetano and Kristi Miller