The angst over laser pointers seems to have gone statewide and will almost certainly be addressed by the General Assembly next year.
Green laser pointers were this summer’s fad item, and the Ocean City Mayor and Council worked quickly to outlaw them. It was reported as many as 30,000 laser pointers were sold on the Boardwalk in Ocean City this summer (at an average price of $40 each, making it a million-dollar industry). Public safety concerns led the council to enact a strict emergency ordinance to ban the use and sale of the devices. During those discussions, there was at least one incident reportedly involving a Maryland State Police helicopter pilot, who was blinded temporarily trying to land in Ocean City on a trauma call, that was often illustrated to prove the need for the ban.
In The Sun yesterday, the laser pointer issue hit the front page, as state authorities broached the topic during a roundtable law enforcement discussion at the Maryland State Police Aviation headquarters in Baltimore County. An incident was detailed that involved a State Police helicopter pilot who was “flash-blinded” by a green laser pointer while working a police chase. At the event on Wednesday, authorities asked citizens to avoid shining their laser pointers in the sky to avert similar incidents.
It’s reasonable to expect this issue to come before legislators in the next session.
Early voting seemed to go off without a hitch this week. I voted on Wednesday at Gull Creek and all was quiet. Three other voters were casting their ballots during the five minutes it took me to vote. As expected, campaign signs were everywhere and there were a couple dedicated candidates and supporters mulling around to issue last-minute words of guidance. It seems like a solid system to me and the experience and training it provides the citizens working at the polls seems valuable in advance of next week’s primary. Early voting supporters say it will boost voter turnout. That will be interesting to see once all the votes are counted next week.
Teen pregnancy is an issue not often in the spotlight, and that’s how it should be, if you ask me. These are private matters, but it’s a fact there are teens and others who get pregnant accidentally and need to explore options available to them. Fortunately, within the next couple weeks, there will be a resource for teens, and basically anyone who is pregnant, to gather some information about the choices ahead of them and to learn more about what being a parent is all about. There are a number of tremendous community service-oriented organizations and programs in Worcester, but not one devoted exclusively to the issue of crisis pregnancies. To learn more about the Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center, and the truly inspiring story behind its evolvement, see page 17A.
The hoopla surrounding Hurricane Earl last week epitomized how not to react to a storm, and the media is largely to blame. It was absolutely ridiculous how the storm was covered and how early the sensational coverage began. As early as Monday morning, television crews were coming to Ocean City to report on the conditions and what the resort area could expect from the storm.
At one point, a Baltimore media outlet was openly discouraging people from coming to Ocean City over the holiday weekend because of the storm. Understandably, Earl was once a Category 4 hurricane and could have been destructive if it hit the resort or the Outer Banks or any area for that matter. However, a little bit of awareness and understanding that these storms are difficult to predict needs to be exercised.
Instead, what happened was mass hysteria. Last Friday at 4 p.m., I was standing on the Inlet, along with hundreds of others, wondering what all the fuss was about. Of course, come Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the sun was shining and the weather was gorgeous. Earl was a joke, but regional and national media folks embarrassed themselves even more.