I love a good fish story, especially those of the factual variety, and this summer may go down as one of the most memorable summers of fish stories ever. It’s largely due to the fact local anglers have been in our headlines all summer and scored big bucks in the popular fishing tourneys based in the area. Check out page 8A for the latest fish story of the summer involving a local restaurateur’s unlikely prize-winning white marlin, which won more than $650,000 in the Mid-Atlantic $500,000. It seems this white marlin almost got away but its temper got the best of it. Like most of the other big fish caught in the area this summer, there’s a unique story behind how it was boated.
Although it pales in comparison to other states around the country, namely California, Maryland has an enormous financial crisis on its hands. A lot of numbers have been thrown around this week regarding the fiscal woes and the recommendations the governor proposed to address a huge shortfall between revenues and expenses. Here’s a few I thought deserved special mention:
— 205: State employees fired, resulting in a savings of $17 million when combined with the decision to eliminate 159 vacant positions.
— 2,589,056: Amount in dollars the state plans to cut in aid to Worcester County, bringing the revised appropriation to $3,746,979.
— 40: Overall percentage cut to Worcester in state aid.
— 35: Percentage cut authorized by the Board of Public Works to Worcester’s health appropriation (from $481,453 to $312,944).
— 35: Percentage cut to Worcester police aid (from $703,956 to $457,571).
— 90: Percentage reduction to Worcester’s highway user revenues (from $2.3 million to $231,580).
Unlike their predecessors in recent years, new Worcester County public school teachers this year will not be receiving their courtesy laptop computers as a gift from the county for coming on board. These new teachers will also not be welcomed with the pomp and circumstance of an elaborate welcome meeting, which has been the norm the week before schools starts for a number of years. Both the new teacher perk and the welcome gathering were axed in the last spring’s budget process.
While cuts made in the spring budget nightmare will be felt as school starts next week, education as a whole escaped the statewide cuts announced this week. Some cheer that, while others jeer it. On the pleased side, of course, was the Maryland State Teachers Association. “The Maryland State Teachers Association applauds Governor O’Malley’s effort to continue providing the resources that have helped make Maryland’s public schools #1 in the nation, especially given the very difficult budget climate state policymakers are facing,” said President Clara Floyd. “Providing adequate resources for public education at the federal, state and local levels is an investment in student excellence and the future of Maryland’s economy. We are thankful that the Governor has shown such strong leadership in maintaining that investment.”
I have to make an addition to the weekly “Quotable Quotes”. This came from Ocean City Beach Patrol Captain Butch Arbin when discussing last weekend’s rough surf in general and some disturbing encounters with visitors. “The concept for me is that I would like for our guards to have the authority to keep people safe from their own stupidity. There were instances this past weekend where we had to get the police involved and issue disorderly conduct citations for people who still wanted to go in the water on Saturday,” he said. This was well said, and the idea of the beach patrol having more authority will be discussed this fall. Clearly, it an issue Arbin is passionate about. He seems to believe lifeguards should have the ability to issue citations in certain instances to maintain safety.