Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Ocean City is apparently getting close to finalizing former City Manager Dennis Dare’s severance package, and it’s going to be interesting to see how much this ends up costing the taxpayers.

Last week, Dare reportedly received the city’s written proposal, drafted by City Solicitor Guy Ayres, that includes wages, legal counsel compensation and details of his retirement package, among other things. He is currently reviewing the document with his counsel and has been given a deadline of early next month.

In September, when the council majority removed Dare, it was said Dare would be paid through the end of the year. That’s still the plan, but I understand the proposal on the table has him continuing to receive his full-time salary through next fall when his 30-year anniversary with the city would have taken place.

It’s at that point he would reportedly be considered retired and then receive the typical retirement package city employees receive when they hit the three-decade mark.

Although the details of the severance package have not been disclosed and could still be in flux, sources say Dare would essentially be following the same track as retiring Community and Planning Development Jesse Houston if he agrees to what the city proposes.

Houston announced a couple months ago he would be retiring at his 30-year anniversary date next fall. Of course, the big difference is Houston is still working at City Hall, while Dare is not and has not for 11 weeks now, and Dare’s package includes a certain monetary reimbursement from the city for the legal and accounting work that followed his forced resignation.

It’s interesting to note Houston was hired in 1982 just a couple weeks before Dare was brought on as the city’s engineer.

It’s bizarre to me that Gov. Martin O’Malley entered the ongoing legal battle involving the Hudson farm and the Waterkeeper Alliance.

From my experience, when things do not add up and common sense seems to be lacking, politics is to blame, and that’s the only rational explanation for why O’Malley publicly blasted the University of Maryland Law Clinic.

“This case, at this juncture, perpetuates an injustice. This case, given the facts now discovered, uses the economic weapon of unlimited litigation resources, namely taxpayer supported state services, to potentially bankrupt and destroy a family farming operation which has no recourse to similarly unlimited litigation assets,” O’Malley wrote.

For her part, University of Maryland Law School Dean Phoebe Haddon was quick to call out the governor, an attorney himself, and reminded him the clinic cannot at this point abandon the case even if that was its desire, which it is not.

“I believe there are good grounds for the lawsuit, which seeks to protect the Chesapeake Bay for all Marylanders. The judge in this case agreed when he denied an early motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In any event, as you know as a lawyer, the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct preclude the clinic from withdrawing from the litigation,” she wrote.

Why O’Malley went this public route is odd to me. It has to be about politics, but that seems too obvious. One thing it did do was gain him some favor in the agriculture industry, and surely with Perdue, and that could come in handy in advance of his predicted Senate run after his gubernatorial term expires.

It’s six months away, but headliners for Springfest 2012 were confirmed this week and tickets go on sale today. Headliners will be The Fabulous Hubcaps, performing on Thursday, May 3, 2012; Loretta Lynn on Friday, May 4, 2012; and Eddie Money and Survivor on Saturday, May 5.

There are numerous poignant thoughts regarding Thanksgiving, but one I came across this week sums it up well, although it was not intended initially to be a holiday message.

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." — Theodore Roosevelt

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