Thoughts From the Publisher’s Desk

tdbetween101

In
response to last week’s editorial, questioning whether the Ocean City Air Show
will ever be an event that actually puts “heads in beds,” Ocean City Councilman
Joe Hall called to remind me the town contributes thousands of other dollars
besides the $50,000 in seed money to the Ocean City Air Show. While a supporter
of the event as a “value-added” activity in Ocean City, Hall said the expense
to the town goes far beyond that $50,000. Acknowledging he’s not a numbers guy,
he said call City Hall for confirmation. According to Ocean City Budget Manager
Jennie Knapp, as of Wednesday, $47,518 of the $50,000 seed money donation has
been allocated for printing,
contracted services and supplies. When the additional payroll time to handle
practical issues specifically involved with the air show, the town’s burden
comes to about $68,000, making the total expense to the town for this year’s
air show around $116,000.

Yet
another example of how Worcester County operates in a bubble was revealed this
week. When we called Ocean City and Berlin to confirm elected officials’
salaries and determine if they were on the respective health insurance plans,
officials were forthcoming because they understand it’s taxpayer dollars at
work and public information. Worcester County, to a degree, was helpful in that
it provided salary figures and outlined how it handles health insurance for the
commissioners, including the amounts they must fund. However, when asked
whether all the commissioners were on the plan, the county did not respond
before the paper went to press. It’s illegal to withhold this kind of
information, but the county has shown it doesn’t care.

Helmet-less
scooter riders are rampant in Ocean City. It may just be the time of year, but
clearly riders are defying the city law that mandates they must wear helmets on
town roads as well as shoes. The problem here is obvious. It’s easy for them to
dodge what the town requires. Since the town law only applies to some areas of
Ocean City – roads that are town owned like 15th to 33rd
streets on Baltimore Avenue – riders are exploiting the gray area.

Last
week, a random sampling of local scooter rental companies found every single
operation polled reported customers had to wear helmets. Each had their own
version of informing the caller about the law, but every single operator
reached make it clear the law was to be followed strictly. That would leave
enforcement as the only option, but that’s tricky as well because the city’s
helmet law does not extend to Coastal Highway because it’s state owned, and the
state has not passed a helmet law yet for scooters. That discussion is expected
to resurface in the next legislative session. Here’s to hoping legislators see
fit to put this no-brainer law on the books. That’s the only answer to keeping
helmets on scooter riders in Ocean City.

One
month ago this week, a seal named Hastings was getting a lot of attention. The
seal, after being rehabilitated by the folks at the National Aquarium in
Baltimore, was returned to the ocean with quite a bit of fanfare, as residents
and onlookers came to the Inlet to see him released. Since his return to the
wild, Hastings has been busy and as of June 15 was just off the coast of
Boston. Since he was released, he has traveled more than 1,100 miles and has
gotten as far north as Maine. As to be expected, it seems Hastings prefers the
cooler waters of New England. Once released from Ocean City, his tracking
device shows he immediately headed north along the coast, proceeded past Long
Island, N.Y. and Connecticut, then went directly east into the depths of the
ocean before returning closer to the coast along Massachusetts, New Hampshire
and Maine. Typically, these tracking devices fall off early on after these
rehabilitated seals are released, but the one on Hastings seems to have staying
power. Track it yourself at www.aqua.org. 

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