Between The Lines

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Regarding the ongoing Liquor Control Board for Worcester County (LCB) situation, one thing I have learned over the last decade with this issue is the public, in general, does not have a lot of interest in this story. However, I do believe it should.

As a result of the proposal on the table to allow businesses to “opt out” for an annual fee and begin using private wholesalers, the LCB has begun an ad campaign in the area’s daily paper. On the same day the Worcester Alliance for Fair Markets made its detailed proposal, a half-page color ad appeared in The Daily Times. At least one other ad appeared on Thursday trying to convince the public it needs the LCB to stay in business as is.

The content of the ads contain a number of debatable assertions, including the claim the LCB “keeps your property taxes low”, “protects small businesses” and “maintains revenue-neutrality.” All of these claims mimic what was used in the months leading up to the 1998 referendum when county voters overwhelmingly endorsed keeping the LCB. These assertions are blatant attempts to curry favor and are questionable, at best, and misleading, for certain. The claim that it keeps property taxes low should infuriate the County Commissioners.

Nonetheless, my larger question here is: Who is paying for these ads? The answer invariably is us and by that I mean, the taxpayers and the folks who consume the goods of the LCB. That does not sit well with me and it shouldn’t with you.

A firestorm erupted over the weekend after Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino gave her position last week on the legalization of marijuana. Obviously as the leader of a police organization she is against it.

“I just wanted to bring it to your attention that it is something that I am defiantly against, and the department is against, and I think most law enforcements you’ll find is against,” DiPino said. “It is something that is quite controversial. There is a lot of money that is backing the push for this…it is something that we are going to be actively opposing.”

Apparently, the pro-pot folks are quite organized, as we received numerous letters and website story comments from readers all over the country. Some are printed on these pages, some were not, as the content was incredibly inflammatory and the letter writers did not return phone calls seeking to confirm their existence.

It’s still extremely early in the General Assembly session, but it looks like the proposed dime-a-drink tax on alcohol is all but dead. Numerous proposals to increase the alcohol tax are floating around Annapolis, and many include stipulations that any increase will be devoted to health programs.

During a radio interview with Marc Steiner this week, Senate President Mike Miller, arguably the most powerful man in Maryland politics and that includes the governor, called the proposal, “insanity personified.” He went on to say, “it’s just not going to happen.”

Although this could be overly simplistic, the way things work in Annapolis is if Miller, as leader of the Senate, doesn’t want something to pass it fails. Consequently, this alcohol tax hike is doomed.

It may be too early to tell, but my prediction is Ocean City will not allow its Inlet Parking Lot to be used for a new Bike Week event. At the risk of having tunnel vision, this is all about the money to me.

If the town allows the lot to be used, it will cost it more than $130,000. That figure includes lost revenue from the parking sales as well as overtime employee costs. At a time when vacations and health insurance share ratios are being slashed, it would be hypocritical of the town to give this any more serious consideration.

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