Between The Lines

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Nearly half of the 5,000 people who have voted in an online poll seem to support Ocean City’s new Boardwalk featuring a stamped concrete tram lane down the center made to resemble wood. That’s surprising to me, as I thought most would side with the traditional wooden surface for the portion under consideration from 4th to 27th streets.

According to the town’s website, which outlines the three options, the favored surface would mean replacing the existing Boardwalk with two outer wooden lanes and an inner train lane made of concrete, which would be stamped to resemble wood boards. Financially, as far as the three options presented, it’s more expensive than just going with a simple concrete lane down the middle of the Boardwalk but is a lot less expensive than opting for all wood as the new surface.

It’s worth pointing out the poll results do not necessarily mean that’s the option the Mayor and City Council will select, as early talks confirmed at least two of the council members were adamant about sticking with the tradition of a wooden Boardwalk.

Tickets for the headline acts for Springfest are now on sale. One of the aspects I like about the city’s major bookend season events – Springfest and Sunfest – is the diverse entertainment offered each year. This year’s Springfest appears to be keeping that trend firmly intact.

A press release from Ocean City this week announced ‘80s solo artist Richard Marx has been booked for Springfest’s prime Saturday night spot and country icon George Jones has been tapped as the Friday night headliner.

Worcester County government officials had to be somewhat relieved when Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his budget this week.

Although local jurisdictions had already been assured by O’Malley that he would not pass on any share of teacher pension costs to them, many did not believe him until this week. Officials feared pressure from his fellow Democrats as well as an ultimatum over tax increases may force the governor’s hand. That has not happened, at least in his proposed budget.

In this week’s budget presentation, O’Malley said he would not shift any of the burden to fund pensions to the counties, as had been proposed by some analysts as a way to balance the state’s budget. Instead, O’Malley is planning to pass on some new individual assessment office expenses to the counties. In Worcester’s case, that change is expected to cost around $1 million this year.

While that’s certainly nothing to cheer about, it could have been much worse. For example, if the teacher pension expense was thrown the county’s way, it could have cost about $5 million annually, according to some local projections.

Although it may not happen this year, there’s little doubt table games will soon be dotting the Maryland landscape.

In Annapolis, legislation has already been introduced to allow existing slots parlors, including Ocean Downs, to add table games like Blackjack and Poker to their offerings. The measure reportedly has the backing of Senate President Mike Miller, but House Speaker Michael Busch is reluctant at this point until state voters officially endorse the expansion.

Since it involves altering the state constitution, any additional gambling measure would have to go to a statewide referendum. There seems to be little doubt the majority of voters would okay table games, but the timing seems to be the question here.

The votes seem to be in hand for the Senate to pass table games, but House leadership has pledged to hold it up this year in favor of seeing what voters think. That could come in the fall of 2012, the next presidential election.

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