Letters To The Editor

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On Art, Pornography

Editor:

I find it outrageous that the Mayor and City Council are willing to use $600,000 of our tax money to support the pet project of an elite minority, the Art League of Ocean City (ALOC).

I thought the council recognized the need for fiscal restraint in this time of declining property values and tax receipts. Did we suddenly have an economic recovery that I missed? The Mayor and Council don’t seem to understand the difference between the concepts of “need to have” and “nice to have”. We need to have streets, sewers, water lines, trash collection, police and fire protection. It is nice to have fine art displays, symphony orchestras, theater companies and other cultural amenities, but they should not take priority, especially in times of economic distress.

How can the council justify taking away from our senior citizens the benefit of riding free on the boardwalk tram, while at the same time donating $600,000 to the Art League? The estimated cost of the new building is $800,000, but history would argue that it will actually cost more. So the city (we taxpayers) may end up owning a million dollar asset that requires additional money to maintain, generates no income and is used by a small minority of us. I would encourage all taxpayers and voters of Ocean City to call their council members with suggestions for better ways to spend $600,000 of our hard earned money.

The Fagers and Moores helped plead the ALOC funding request to the council. The wealthy elite are always leading the support for the fine arts and other cultural pursuits. It is not because their aesthetic sensibilities are more refined than the rest of us, but simply because once one has acquired enough wealth to satisfy all of one’s current and future life needs (food, shelter, and health care), it frees one to pursue the “finer” things of life. OK, pursue them, but do it with your own money, not mine. If the Fagers, Moores, and their wealthy friends believe that fine art is so important to their community, why don’t they donate the funds needed to build a new Art League building? Judging by their homes and the public lifestyle they enjoy, a $100,000 donation each would be mere pocket change for them and four of their wealthy friends.

I begrudge no one their wealth. I believe it is wonderful that our country allows anyone with ambition, talent and dreams to achieve financial independence. And as far as I know, the Fagers, Moores and their peers have achieved their wealth through hard work, perseverance and smart decision making. However, they are a minority. Many more of our taxpaying citizens must prioritize their needs, especially in this time of rising food and gas prices, and high unemployment. Some of us have to decide whether to pay our condo fees this month or our electric bill, since we can’t afford both.

I must admit I was surprised by the support for this project by the Fraternal Order of Police. But then again, why should they not? Their members are already enjoying incomes, medical benefits and pensions at taxpayer expense that far exceed what the average citizen can ever hope to attain. At last count, there were 18 police officers making over $100,000 per year, not including benefits. In a town the size of Ocean City, that is absurd. What do all of these supervisory personnel do in the winter? But that’s a matter to discuss at another time.

FOP representative Mark Paddack was quoted as saying, “the Art League is not asking for anything for free”. Yes, they are … $600,000 in fact. Duh. I would be interested in knowing how much this police union, the FOP, has contributed to this project they so heartily endorse?

What does any of this have to do with pornography? Simply this: the difference between fine art and pornography is just a matter of personal taste and aesthetic preference. Many find acclaimed artist/photographer Andres Serrano’s creation “P**s Christ”, a photo of a crucifix displayed in a bottle of urine, to be morally offensive, in fact obscene. But it too was subsidized with our tax money funding the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been displayed and praised by the cultural elite around the world. The fact that pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S would indicate that many of our citizens find satisfaction and fulfillment in viewing it, much like others do with “fine art”. So if a lover of fine pornography were to approach the council asking for $600,000 to build an education center and gallery for the purpose of bringing this interest to a larger audience, what would be the response? Silly you say?

Well, there is no difference in principle to what ALOC is doing. No government at any level should be using tax payer money to subsidize the aesthetic pursuits of one group over another. It is a slippery slope. Government should do only what is necessary to protect its citizens from harm, nothing more. All the rest can be handled more efficiently by our capitalist free enterprise system and entrepreneurs like John Fager and Leighton Moore.

Do the Mayor and City Council really believe that there is nothing more important, nothing more beneficial to all our citizens, that $600,000 could be used for than subsidizing the Art League? If that is true, then I would suggest they return this money to the taxpayers so we can use it to buy gas and pay our mortgages. Thank God for Margaret Pillas and Brent Ashley and their ability to think rationally and stand by their campaign promises. What happened to Joe and Jim Hall? I thought they purported to be fiscal conservatives.

I hope the voters remember this in future elections. Could the ability of our wealthier citizens to make large campaign contributions have had any influence on our Mayor and Council members? Even though I own property and pay taxes, I can’t vote in city elections because my permanent residency is in Virginia. I can never have the influence of a Leighton Moore or John Fager. Few of us can. The only way to combat this elitist influence and misuse of our tax money is by regular citizens and voters of OC banding together and letting their council members know how they feel about this, and how they will vote in future elections.

Steven J. Whitmer
Ocean City

Lack Of Help Upsetting

Editor:

(The following letter was addressed to the District Court of Maryland and a copy sent to to this publication.)

I am an 88-year-old citizen of the United States and an a resident of the state of Maryland. I served my country in World War II to protect people in my country by preserving their rights, so they could live in freedom. It is shame that there is no justice for me here in Maryland.

The police and other officials have done nothing in helping me retrieve the riding lawnmower that was stolen from my yard. It’s sad that there are people who will steal from the elderly rather than help them and shame on law enforcement who won’t do anything about it and Maryland officials try to pass the buck to other departments. The loss of my riding lawnmower, valued at $2,000, is very tough on me.

I traveled from Snow Hill to Berlin to the State Police for help and got none. I needed assistance from your paid employees, not a defense of the theft. I should not have to strap on a 45 pistol to get the situation resolved by myself, when your paid employees should help me. They will not help me when it is their duty to do so.

I had asked a service company in Snow Hill to pick up my lawnmower and service it. I thought to be honest and dependable and now I found out that they are not. I do not remember which company it was. Someone came and picked up my mower and did not return it to me with a bill for the service, which I would paid on the spot. State and local police will not investigate this theft. I am asking for the return of my mower or $2,000. Sad that there are people who will steal from the old and the law refuses to follow up on a reasonable complaint of theft from an old man.

The law is upholding the theft rather than during something about it to protest a citizen of theft.

I don’t want to take on the duty of the law, don’t force me to do so. The law is paid and paid well to do that job.

William A. Fears
Berlin

Disturbing Tactics

Editor:

Once again the ruling class is using economic terrorism to control us unwashed masses. Yesterday, the President of the United States threatened that social security and veterans benefits might be interrupted if the so called debt ceiling is not raised by the date set by the tax cheater Secretary of the Treasury.

Wake up Americans. We cannot allow ourselves to be tricked by these tactics. Thank God we are half way through the term of the current regime, unless they decide not to let us have the next election.

Gwen L. Cordner
Berlin

Paid Parking Answer?
Editor:

The Mayor and City Council are always looking for new types of revenue and I think I have a solution that would bring in considerable dollars.

After trying the past three weekends to get a parking space between 140th and 146th streets, I think it’s time to reconsider paid parking in those areas.

While it was great that the city was so busy 4th of July weekend, the parking was horrible. All the side streets on both sides of Coastal Highway were full and even the cross street was crowded.

Now we need to ask ourselves who was filling those spots? Were they people staying in OC spending money here at the hotels and restaurants? The answer in many cases was no.

These were people coming down from Delaware where there is limited parking and the major beach area has a fee to enter. As this is one of my pet peeves, I sat up at the corner of Coastal Hwy. and Route 54 watching the incoming traffic on two mornings. A majority of the traffic turned down into OC and into the upper street parking areas.

We need to try and turn this into a revenue generator. Try a pilot program and see how it works.

The residents can get free parking permits thereby allowing them free beach access while the rest will need to pay. There is a time for this and the time is now.

Len Bender
Ocean City

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