Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Bank robberies are no laughing matter, but this week’s botched attempt at the Susquehanna Bank branch on 94th Street is at least worth a chuckle. According to police, a suspect entered the bank branch and slipped a note of unknown contents to a teller. An obvious assumption is it had something to do with hand over the money. It seems the suspect fled the scene immediately after handing the letter to the teller in an apparent case of the cold feet. Perhaps it was just the nerves, but this sounds to me more like a silly fraternity prank than anything else. As far as attempted robberies go, it seems this incident had the best outcome possible. The man did not display a gun, nobody was injured and no money was lost. The only thing that would have made better was if police had nabbed the suspect before he got away. That may still happen, but it had not happened as of yesterday. It was not without at least initial effort as police showed off its impressive mobile command center on the site for hours after the attempted bank heist.

Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino called last Friday to talk with me about an editorial headlined, “Police Undermining City Council’s Intent.” The editorial was about how police did a good job of confiscating salvia after it was made illegal, but the department was not fulfilling the council’s intent when it did nothing about the salvia paraphernalia, specifically the hookas, still being openly sold on the Boardwalk.

In a discussion over speakerphone with the chief and at least one other department employee who never identified himself, DiPino said the hookas are here to stay because they are not illegal. The chief said police do not have the right to legally charge those merchants who are still possessing and selling this paraphernalia because you can smoke flavored tobacco out of it. She said it does not violate the town’s salvia ordinance. Seizing this paraphernalia would infringe on the merchants’ constitutional rights, said DiPino. She said State’s Attorney Joel Todd told the department the hookas are not illegal and therefore police would follow his instructions as he is the man responsible for seeing their charges through in court.

For what it’s worth, the chief also reported the Mayor and Council is pleased with how the department is handling enforcement of the new ordinance and it’s the media, specifically this paper, that’s unhappy with how it’s being carried out. She’s right. All along I believe the council’s intent was to rid the town of salvia as well as the hookas and other paraphernalia. The chief did not dispute that interpretation, but she reiterated her department would not knowingly open the town up to litigation by violating anyone’s rights and going against the state’s attorney’s finding on the matter.

Slips of the keyboard and lapses in intelligence and judgment unfortunately occur every now and again in the news business. I received an email this week confirming that. Here’s a look at some funny headlines that actually made it to print over the years. I deleted the publication names because they have already been embarrassed enough.

– Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

– Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

– Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

– Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over 

– Miners Refuse to Work after Death

– Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant 

– War Dims Hope for Peace 

– If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

– Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures 

– Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

– Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges 

– Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

– New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group 

– Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft 

– Kids Make Nutritious Snacks 

– Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

– Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors 

– Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead 

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