Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see how lowering the speed limit 5 mph on a 30-block portion of Coastal Highway will make anyone any safer. However, it can’t hurt to give it a shot.

Rather than this proposed reduction, which will most likely happen between 33rd and 62nd streets, what was more exciting to learn this week was that the State Highway Administration is involved in tackling the pedestrian safety problems.

Alcohol is the most significant factor in pedestrian accidents in Ocean City, and there is little that can be done to further address that. If you can’t legislate taste, as is often said during government planning meetings, it’s safe to say sobriety cannot be legislated either.

Nonetheless, the SHA is apparently considering more controlled intersections as well as a possible barrier preventing mid-block pedestrian crossings. Additionally, something called a “road diet” has been floated. It’s a concept that involves the removal of a travel lane to help pedestrians and bicyclists on the roadway.

More formal recommendations will be coming to the Mayor and Council level soon, but before that a committee of residents, business owners and special interest groups could be formed as soon as this year.

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My interview this week with Joe Hall was compelling on a number of fronts, most specifically to hear his reasons for Dennis Dare’s removal last September. Admitting his specific explanation is different than his majority colleagues. Joe Hall said he and Dare simply were miles apart on economics and tourism and the councilman said Dare made it clear he was going to fight the council majority on its stated goals on those two specific segments.

I enjoy these during question-and-answer interviews because it’s one-on-one and gives a unique perspective on the individual. This is not the first, second or third time I have interviewed Joe Hall, but it’s the first time I was surprised by what he had to say.

While I knew he and Mayor Rick Meehan were also not on the same page on most city government matters, I was shocked to hear him confirm he would not be voting for the incumbent mayor, who is being opposed by downtown resident Nick Campagnoli, who came in last place in his 2006 council seat run.

This part of the interview, as well as others, did not make it in print due to space restraints. The full interview is available at www.mdcoastdispatch.com. However, this exchange was interesting so here it is as well.

Q. You have brought the mayor up a lot here. You were high profile in trying to get someone to oppose Rick Meehan for mayor over the summer. Was that because you simply feel positions need to be contested or because of your personal belief that Rick should no longer be the mayor?

A. Both. Rick’s never been contested as mayor. He inherited the mayor’s post by the death of our delegate, Bennett Bozman, and the mayor at the time, Jim Mathias, was appointed to the delegate’s seat. Also, there was the fact that in the last election there were 1,400 some voters and only 900 votes were cast for him. I felt it would be nice to know where his mandate is on his job.

(BOLD)Q. Are you going to vote for his challenger, Mr. Campagnoli?

A. Yes, I will vote for him. I just don’t agree with Rick and his idea of how the town should be and its future. Rick and I have very similar goals for the town, but we just have extreme differences on how to get there.

For his part, Meehan has made it clear he will not be voting for Joe Hall in his re-election bid.

“If you agree with the actions that have taken place in the past two years, then you know what direction you want to go,” Meehan said during a voter rally last week. “But, if you want to restore the trust and integrity in Ocean City Council, and if you want to bring back open discussion before decisions are made, if you want to get rid of Washington-style politics that the self-proclaimed new majority has brought to our Ocean City, if you want the council to truly represent all of the citizens of Ocean City there is a right direction and I challenge you to spread that word and to get the people out to vote.”

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