Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Ocean City Councilman Joe Hall found out firsthand last Friday what it’s like to be bitten by the viral world of social media.

In his post on the Citizens For Ocean City Facebook page, Joe Hall addressed the town’s consideration of adding paid parking to certain areas of town and the reasoning behind it.

In his post, he wrote, “The council has only asked for the big picture on parking meters. No one, even me has suggested blanketing Ocean City with meters. I’m biggest supporter of getting users of our roads to pay for street repairs. Meter’s [sic] do that. Why should property owners pay the whole $41 million in needed road repair and the day trippers and visitors that flood our roads and trash our town ride free. This is not about wheather [sic] we can or can’t do roads. We have too [sic]. We are behind. This is who is the fairest to pay. I think it has to come from property tax and meter revenue.”

Dozens of posts followed criticizing the comments, particularly the “trash our town” verbiage as well as the incorrect grammar that plagued his posts.

When I talked to him Tuesday, he addressed the critics of his writing and speaking style.

“My grammar has never been a secret. My position is people don’t vote for me because of my grammar. They vote for me for my sound decision making for the town and they know my heart is in the right place and see the big picture,” Joe Hall said. “The reality is we have over $100 million of infrastructure work that needs to be done over the next 10 years. We need to diversify our funding sources. I am leaning toward identifying commercial areas that are intensely used in mid-town and uptown where we could generate some additional revenue, such as the Seacrets and Fager’s Island areas. These are city streets, funded by city taxpayers, that are basically used as overflow parking areas. Why not capitalize on that for the taxpayers?”

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Staying with the parking situation in Ocean City, the City Council approved in a 5-2 vote a 50-percent increase in the hourly rate for parking at downtown “metered” spots. Last summer, it cost 25 cents for 15 minutes. This summer, it will cost 25 cents for 10 minutes.

I find it interesting that the public, as well as at least a couple members of the council, seems to find it appalling to consider adding more meters to parts of the town, but are fine with this increase. What’s the difference?

An argument has been made in recent weeks that the tourists who have parked at 54th Street ocean block for years to hit the beach are going to be appalled if they come back this summer and see meters. It has been said they are going to feel gouged.

For some reason, it seems the same logic does not apply to the 50-percent hike in parking meter rates. Are we assuming the tourists are not going to notice a buck does not get them an hour as it once did?

Personally, I think that’s hypocritical. It’s not fair on one hand to bemoan the addition of paid parking areas and then say it’s a no-brainer to significantly increase the per-hour fees. They are related in that the new revenue is being built on the backs of the tourists.

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It may only be February, but planning is well underway for the summer, and some specific plans will be unveiled at next week’s Mayor and Council meeting.

Sources indicate the Tourism Advisory Board will come before the council Tuesday to discuss some free weekly beach events. At least two concepts are currently being flushed out, including an elaborate laser light show featuring a five-story sphere on Sunday nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day and fireworks displays on Tuesday evenings.

Also planned are two significant national act concerts for the bookend summer weekends of Memorial Day and Labor Day. More details soon.

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It will be 14 years next month since Shamir Hudson was beaten to death by his adoptive mother, but his case is being used as proof that new legislation is needed in Maryland to protect the most innocent among us.

Everyone involved in that heinous case remembers it well to this day. Before imposing a 30-year sentence on Catherine Hudson, then-Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Theodore Eschenburg called it, “the saddest and most brutal case I have witnessed in my years on the bench. The system whose mission it is to protect children has failed miserably.”

Legislation currently being weighed in the General Assembly aims to make it a misdemeanor if suspected child abuse is not reported to authorities. It’s punishable by year in prison.

Joel Todd, State’s Attorney at the time, testified in support of the bill as did Buckingham Elementary teacher Diane Raine, who repeatedly notified social services of her concerns.

After Hudson was removed from Buckingham and relocated to a private Salisbury school, the abuse intensified and that school’s headmaster did not notify authorities. After Hudson was found dead, Todd tried to charge the headmaster with failure to report child abuse, only to find out later there was no such charge. “It wasn’t until I got back to my office and actually got the book out that I realized there’s not a criminal penalty and there was nothing I could do about it. And then to rub salt into the wounds, he officiated over Shamir’s funeral,” said Todd, according to WYPR.

We will be following the bill as it makes its way through Annapolis.

One comment on “Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

  1. Don’t drive, don’t pollute. Push for more pedal power. And offshore windfarms. Take the bus. Charge these people who “trash our town” higher parking. Locals know where to park for free.

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