Voices From The Readers

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Support For Tourism

Funding Shift Request
Editor:

Over the past four years Berlin, Snow Hill and Pocomoke have developed economic development strategies focused on increasing visitors to our communities and attractions. While each community has promoted their own events, museums, shops and recreational assets, it has been Lisa Challenger’s and Worcester County Tourism’s  “Beach and Beyond” marketing effort that has given all 3 towns more exposure than any of us could afford on our own.

As the chairman of Snow Hill’s Arts and Entertainment District I have worked closely with Lisa on several marketing initiatives. Her approach has always been to bring people to our great beaches (OceanCity and Assateague) but once here encourage them to explore other things Worcester County has to offer. Today’s visitor is likely attracted to outdoor activities, history, and culture as well as the beach. One of Lisa’s priorities has been to let visitors know Worcester County has all these assets making it a great place to visit

With strained budgets, all of us are looking at collaborative and creative marketing opportunities. The numerous award-winning advertising efforts developed by Worcester County Tourism in just the past few years show effective use of electronic and print media. Many of these efforts have been collaborative with other tourism entities, Arts & Entertainment Districts, museums and small businesses. All of the marketing materials – electronic and printed – are very high quality in content and design indicating Lisa’s responsible yet effective use of her limited budget.

Tourism is an economic driver for the entire county. Certainly the rest of the county benefits from Ocean City’s effective and well-funded advertising campaign but another estimated one million people annually visit other areas of Worcester County. Since Ocean City has placed the $270,000 county allocation for marketing or advertising in its general fund, it would be more effective to redirect those funds to Worcester County Tourism. Doing so would increase visibility of our small towns, promote the rest of the county’s assets and encourage visitors to explore the “Beach and Beyond.”

Ann S. Coates

Snow Hill

More Airport Talk

Editor:

I would like to respond to Capt. Jarvis’ letter published on March 19.

The captain is very well qualified to speak on the OC Airport situation and I appreciate his taking the time to present his views. If my letter provoked his response, it has more than served its purpose.

The captain has made my point, perhaps better than I was able to do, stating that the airport has been so boxed in that it will never be profitable largely due to its limited runway length. Need I remind the captain that less than 25 miles to the west, lies the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport fully equipped to service the aircraft unable to utilize the OC airport currently and in the future.

Incidentally I have used that airport captain, as well as dozens of others here and abroad. My point was and is that I believe further investment in the OC Airport is not in the interest of its owners, the taxpayers of Ocean City, with or without federal dollars or even from Delaware for that matter. I never suggested that the OC airport should make a profit, the golf course takes care of that, but it would be interesting to see if a private operator would be willing to take up the challenge of operating it on behalf of the city. 

Joseph V. Moran

Ocean City 

Partisan Feud Needed?

Editor:

The local Democratic Central committee seems to have a hankering for a partisan ruckus as a strategy to elect more democrats to the Worcester County Commission and other county jobs.

This is evident by a bold public announcement that the democrats will promote a candidate to vie for every commissioner seat. The challenges might be called for if criticisms of the current commissioners are valid and limited to the commissioners of the opposing party. However, the reasons given for needing more democrats in Snow Hill are unconvincing.

In a recent news notice, a democratic leader criticized the commissioners’ performance on such elusive issues as economic development to reduce the unemployment rate, fostering efforts for work force housing, failure to implement a development tax or impact fee, wow, failures to create jobs and a failure to carry out the wishes of a housing task force. However, the individuals responsible for the perceived shortcomings were not identified. Even if the complaints were valid, does the solution lie in electing more democrats?

The current board has lived up to expectations and few people are even aware of their individual political affiliation. They have adequately funded the school system, tourism, economic development and comprehensive planning. All the while, they have controlled spending and managed local government in a way that fosters a highly desirable county to live and work. They have developed a sensible budget even when faced with extreme cuts from the state and lower revenue projections due to reduced real estate values. Even with these obstacles, they have vowed to live within their means and not raise taxes. Admittedly, this is an election year.

Fair minded Democrats might find little legitimate cause for displeasure with the locals while on the national and state level there are far greater concerns. The president’s extreme, aggressive agenda and the actions of party leaders in Annapolis and Washington may be their Achilles heel. The democratically controlled state legislature has imposed disastrous environmental land use restrictions on property owners while spending us into a multi-billion dollar budget shortage. T

he low approval rating of national Democratic leaders should be a wake-up call.  Democratic Congressman Kratovil’s yes votes on the stimulus package and the cap and trade bill and Senator Mikulski’s yes votes on historic spending and debt levels and the unpopular healthcare plan should make some question the wisdom of party loyalty.  Opposing party challengers on the state and national level may not be perfect for everyone, but they will be an alternative choice in the November election that deserves serious consideration. Patriotic Democrats, Republicans and independents should evaluate all candidates thoroughly, examine their core values fairly and vote as if our country’s future depends on it. Because, it does.

R. Grant Helvey Sr.

Ocean Pines                             

Inlet Hike Wrong Call      

Editor:

Raising the fees for the inlet parking lot? Sell a season pass to folks who come to OC every weekend and those who stay Saturday and Sunday several times per year.

Instead of milking the same cow, look for ways to enhance the economy, not collect fees. Comparing the Inlet parking fees to parking at a baseball game is stupid, and I chose that word on purpose. It’s stupid. Folks going to a game don’t go several days in a row and season ticket holders usually have parking benefits.

My two cents, OC is becoming like a carnival and that is not a compliment because carnivals have one purpose, collect your money, provide basic entertainment and move on, they don’t stick around to see if you’ll play the games twice.

As for access to the ocean, well isn’t it a shame that a city would think that they control the natural resource. They basically do more to harm it than help it. I’ve written emails to every one of the council members and not even the mayor has had the courage to respond. I hope they get to see these comments.

Vince Cannuli

Correcting Record

On OC Pensions

Editor:

I guess it is time for me to eat a little crow; not the whole bird, mind you, but perhaps a drumstick and a wing or two. I would like to thank City Manager Dennis Dare for serving up this dish to me in a manner that made eating it less onerous than it might otherwise have been. Mr. Dare has provided me with plan summaries for both of the city’s defined benefit pension plans, one for "general employees" and another for "public safety employees". He also replied to my criticisms of the plans in a polite and gentlemanly manner that showed me more respect than I probably deserve given my penchant for sarcasm in my writings. He pointed out several provisions of these plans that make them less expensive to taxpayers than plans which are causing budget trauma for other cities and states across the nation. These provisions include the fact that OC’s plans do not include a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA), the benefits do not include spousal health care coverage and OC employees pay a higher percentage of their pay to fund their plans than do employees in some of the government plans that are in trouble. His points are well taken. These provisions do in fact make the plans less costly to us taxpayers than they otherwise might be.

Mr. Dare also pointed out a false assumption that I had made in a letter to City Council members wherein I alleged that city employees voting as a block could swing city council elections in favor of candidates who would promise to improve their employee benefits. He informed me that "very few city employees are able to live in town and therefore cannot vote in municipal elections." I should have been smart enough to figure this out for myself, but apparently I am not.

While eating crow, I might as well address another error I made in a letter to local papers and council members wherein I lumped City Council President Joe Mitrecic together with Councilman Joe Hall in supporting the unionization of city employees. Mr. Mitrecic pointed out to me in an email that he "voted against the FOP every time that it was on the ballot" and that he has "never supported collective bargaining with binding arbitration." He further stated that "it is my duty as an elected official to make it work because that is what the voters of the Town elected me to do." I offer my sincere apologies to Mr. Mitrecic for assuming he supports the unionization of city employees. Apparently, there is at least one philosophical point upon which he and I can agree.

My concern with defined benefit pension plans is two-fold. First, the benefits tend to become more generous and expensive over time, especially in a government/union situation. This has already happened with OC’s plans. Unions will never stop trying to obtain higher pay and more lucrative benefits. It is too easy for elected officials to acquiesce to employee demands and push off the resulting costs to future administrations and the taxpayer. The average citizen taxpayer has little understanding or interest in these matters until the tax burden becomes so onerous that it cannot be ignored. Second, the "cost" of a defined benefit plan is not easily calculated, and requires an actuary or actuarial software, and even with the best of tools, it will always be an estimate based on economic and financial forecasts and assumptions. So, for a defined benefit plan, the funding required is uncertain even when estimated by a professional.

In a significant economic downturn, as we are now experiencing, these plans can become suddenly and seriously under-funded. On the other hand, with a defined contribution plan, the true cost is always immediately apparent and underfunding cannot become a problem. Elected and (especially) non-elected government officials and managers have little incentive to address these problems. Department heads and managers know that the "floor" for their own salaries and benefits is to a large degree determined by the pay and benefits of the employees they supervise and the size of the bureaucracy they oversee. So it is to their advantage to improve the pay and benefits for their employees and build their organization. But, who is looking out for the taxpayers, especially those unrepresented taxpayers like me who are not given a vote in these matters? I thought we once fought a major war over taxation without representation.

Mr. Mitrecic has accused me of "trying to bash us in the local papers with half truths and innuendo". While I may have been mistaken on some of the details, I am confident that I am pretty accurate about the overall problem. There are several reasons I have chosen to submit my arguments to the newspapers rather than discuss them with council members directly. The most important is that I am trying to influence resident taxpayers, not the council members, to become better informed about this and vote accordingly. The past behavior of the majority of council indicates the futility of trying to sway their thinking. Also I am aware of my own limitations. I am not good "on my feet" and prefer to communicate in writing where I can review, edit and revise my thoughts.

 Also, I have an inherent distrust of politicians and would prefer to have a written record of who said what to whom. While many may enter politics with the intent of performing a public service, I have observed that power is intoxicating, and those who persevere in achieving influential political positions seem to crave that power regardless of the size of the pond in which they swim. I also believe that power really does tend to corrupt. I am eternally grateful for a free press that provides a public forum for people like me who have no political power or influence. If Mr. Mitrecic considers the exercise of my free speech right to speak truth to power as "bashing", then so be it. Eventually the truth always wins out, but sometimes it is a long and painful journey to discover it.

Steve Whitmer

Ocean City

Support Appreciated

Editor:

On behalf of Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, we wanted to personally thank the generous support of our local community during our recent Casino Night Fundraiser.

First, your newspaper was a wonderful source of information getting the word out to our community, especially when we had to reschedule because of the weather. Second, we had amazing talent within our community offering services and items for our event. DiFebo’s headlined along with 16 local restaurants – DeNovo’s, Galaxy 66, the Globe, Seacrets, Harpoon Hanna’s, Ocean Pines Yacht Club, Sunset Grille, Village Inn, Virginia BBQ, Outback Steakhouse, Mio Fratello, Island Café, Ho Feng Garden, Dolle’s, Del Vecchio’s, and Caseys Creations who all donated signature appetizers for a wonderful “Taste of the Town”.

Many other restaurants and local businesses donated items or services for our live/silent auction. Because of the generosity of our community, our Casino Night Fundraiser was a great success. Not only did it provide much needed funds for our school, but it also brought together our community for a fun and exciting evening.

The Casino Night Committee at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School

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