Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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It was interesting to learn this week about Ocean City’s strategic plan effort, which officially got underway on Tuesday. With the election looming, most important to me was what was consultant Lyle Sumek and City Manager David Recor had to say about their individual interviews with Mayor and Council members.

Sumek summed up current affairs in Ocean City quite well in my opinion, recapping what he heard from the town’s elected officials.

“Right now, there’s much more similarity of vision, they just haven’t talked about it,” Sumek said. “There are just differences on how to get there. They need to move beyond just the personal and talk about what do we really want to do for the community. Politics is getting elected and governing is the responsibility of creating that city’s future by every decision they make.”

From his 30 years of experience in government planning, Sumek said the strategic plan document usually “brings stability where the private sector is more willing to invest and the community is more willing to partner if there’s a sense of continuity in terms of direction.”

That sounds great to me.———————————————–

Due to it being a personnel matter involving private negotiations, the media usually does not learn too much about negotiations involving Ocean City and its unions. However, some light was shed this week during an interview with incumbent Councilwoman Mary Knight.

The most recent contract negotiation surfaced at last week’s Mayor and Council meeting when Councilwoman Margaret Pillas expressed her disappointment in the process, suggesting the unions have more consideration for the taxpayers. In attendance that night at City Hall was FOP member Joseph Bushnell, who took exception to that remark, saying, ““I don’t know what else you want from us. We can’t give up any more raises. We can’t give up any more shift differentials. Until the majority change [on the council], all of our contracts were bargained fairly and successfully. Since this last contract with the majority change, that’s when it went to the 11th hour.”

I consider myself attuned to what’s going on in Ocean City, but I must admit I knew little about how this most recent contract process played out, specifically that three City Council minority members — Doug Cymek, Knight and Lloyd Martin — were asked by the council majority to step in and meet with FOP members to hammer out a deal.

“Prior to 2010, during negotiations it would be the council president, the mayor, the lawyer and FOP representatives and [Finance Administrator] Martha [Lucy] as a financial expert. With this new council, along with getting rid of commissions, they decided the council would negotiate with the FOP, which really meant the lawyer would go and talk and then deliver us information and then the lawyer would go back and deliver information. So there was nothing personal in the process where we were looking them in the eyes and talking,” Knight said in an interview this week. “At the 11th hour in a closed session, when there was an impasse and no contract, it’s interesting because the majority voted to send the three of us [Cymek, Knight and Martin]. I wondered if they wanted to blame it on us or test us. Either way, we went and met at Denny’s on a Thursday night at 8 and about an hour-and-a-half later we had a two-year deal with no raises with no COLA on a hand shake. They were willing to give that up.”

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Like most, I received my sample ballot in the mail this week for the general election on Nov. 6. It’s a pretty mundane document as usual, but it was surprising to see all the candidates listed as eligible write-in candidates. Mixed in with the 20-some names for president and vice president was a familiar one — Santa Claus.

More importantly, early voting in Worcester County for the presidential election begins tomorrow and runs through Nov. 1 at the Gull Creek Senior Living facility in Berlin.

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