Voices From The Readers

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Mayor Apologizes
For Market Confusion
Editor:

In the two-hour plus discussion at Monday’s Berlin Council Meeting about the possibility of moving the Berlin Farmer’s Market from downtown to the Town’s parks many people spoke passionately and thoughtfully about their views on this issue. Ironically, it was something that was not said that needs to be stated now to set the record straight.

The President and Executive Director of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce made their request to move the Farmer’s Market to the town parks in Berlin at the urging of myself and the town council. Their straightforward request for consideration was made in an effort to accommodate the Mayor and Council’s concern that motor vehicle parking is becoming steadily less available throughout the downtown area with each passing year.

I and the council not only supported the request, but asked the Chamber to make it in order to begin a process to provide more parking for the downtown area. I did not take the opportunity at Monday’s meeting to make it clear that the Chamber representatives were requesting the move at the urging of myself and other officials of the Town of Berlin.

No member of the farming community or any Berlin business should in any way condemn or criticize the motives of the Chamber of Commerce when they were simply seeking to accommodate the Town’s effort to create more parking for downtown merchants and businesses. The Chamber, as it has for several years, was once again being a good partner in promoting the Town of Berlin. Any animosity or dissatisfaction with the Chamber’s request should be solely directed at myself, as the Mayor of Berlin. Not making this clear at the meeting is something that I bear full responsibility for.

The Berlin Chamber of Commerce has diligently and effectively represented and promoted the businesses of our town and greater Berlin. Working hand-in-hand with the Berlin Main Street Program, the Chamber has played a critical role in Berlin’s economic renaissance and will continue to be a leading force in the economic growth and vitality of our community.

My concern for the less than adequate parking in downtown as Berlin attracts more guests, workers and residents to the commercial core of our town, ultimately led to the confrontation between the supporters of the Berlin Farmer’s Market and the Berlin Chamber. I should have foreseen the consequences of the town’s efforts to encourage the relocation of the Berlin Farmer’s Market and I alone am responsible for any discord or misunderstanding in this public debate.

I trust the businesses and the community at large and particularly the participants and supporters of the Berlin Farmer’s Market will strive to strengthen their ties to Berlin in general and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce in particular. From this confrontation there is great opportunity for those who wish to embrace it.

As for myself, I offer my most sincere apology to the officers, board and staff of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and all those who continue to make the Berlin Farmer’s Market a success for any ill will or misunderstandings created by this well-intended effort that led to this unfortunate confrontation.

Gee Williams
Berlin
(The writer is the mayor of Berlin.)

OC On Right Course
Editor:

We now find ourselves in the final innings of the campaign season. This is when things really tend to heat up, as the candidates raise the severity of their attacks on their opponents. This is when the candidates try to use statistics and misleading statements to help their cause. Unfortunately, in most cases, the voters do not know what statistics or statements are valid and which ones are not. On the federal level, you have organizations, such as FactCheck.org that check the validity of the candidates’ claims.

Here in Ocean City there is no organization to turn to for help. You need to verify yourself. So I decided to check out a claim made by one of the candidates, Dennis Dare. Recently in an interview, Mr. Dare, in response to a claim made by Councilman Brett Ashley, stated “The fact is when I started in 1982 as city engineer to 2011 when I retired the size of government did grow, but so did its responsibilities. There’s probably a third more dwelling units in town. The permanent population doubled and the summer population has grown in that time.”

As for the summer population claim, Mr. Dare’s statement is true. I checked the figures for the summer population which the Ocean City Communications Office had previously published. The numbers I have start in 1984 and end in 2010. It is true the number of summertime visitors has climbed from 3,615,509 to 4,108,725, or a 13.6% jump over those 26 years. Not much of a gain though. On average just about one half of one percent.

Now here is my problem. Why is Mr. Dare quoting a gain from 1982? He did not become city manager until 1989. If you look at the number of tourist in 1989, when Mr. Dare became manager, you will notice that 4,425,644 individuals visited Ocean City during that summer. When you compare that number with 2010’s 4,108,725 visitors, you actually get a decline in tourists. It is a 7.1% reversal in people that vacationed here.

So under Mr. Dare’s rein, summertime visitors declined. They did not increase as Dare would like you to think. So it seems Mr. Dare was taking credit for something that the prior manager accomplished. So this becomes an example of misleading comments by candidates that I spoke about earlier.

In that same time frame, 1989-2010, the marketing budget leaped from $831,090 to $3,900,000. So the marketing cost soared 369%, yet at the same time summer population dropped 7.1%. Not a pretty picture. In private industry a Board of Directors wouldn’t stand for such a dismal performance and I doubt that they would have kept any CEO for such under performance.

Why the drop in visitors with so much marketing money being spent? People just do not treasure Ocean City in the way they used to. Something is wrong. But that is a topic for another day.

Did Mr. Dare intentionally try to mislead the voter? Obviously, I have no idea. The point is the number of visitors under his watch fell 7.1% and the marketing budget soared 369%. Not a great deal if you are a tax payer that lives in Ocean City, Md.

The city manager should be a leader and not a manager. And the same goes for the City Council. You need leaders with vision to sustain the growth of Ocean City. To me, the majority presently on the council have demonstrated that trait.

Finally, I recently read on the Internet a response to one of my earlier letters to the editor. It was from an Ocean City employee who basically said that until I live or work in this town that I should put a sock in it. They went on to state that I do not “reserve the right to have an opinion”. Now I guess this scholar meant to say “deserve” instead of “reserve” But who knows.

This is a perfect example of someone that really does not understand the economy of the State of Maryland or any municipality. This employee has tunnel vision at best and is only parroting the words of a few egoistical and disgruntled council members and a few employees.

You see all Marylanders are affected by the decisions of the town of Ocean City. For example, the convention center which according to Mr. Dare has tripled in size loses money every year. Well, who do you think pays for the loss? Each year the losses are divided equally between the town and the Maryland Stadium Authority. Guess who supports the MSA? All the tax payers of Maryland do.

When visitors from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and New York stop coming to Ocean City, the Maryland sales tax receipts drop which once again hurts all Md. tax payers. I could go on with other examples but I am sure most readers recognize my point even if the OC worker I referred to above does not.

When it comes to voting for your elected officials you really need to do your homework and then make a rational and not an emotional decision. If you think a dwindling visitor population and big spending is good for the city, then by all means vote against the majority.

But if you want Ocean City to reclaim its prior family oriented environment, keep the city’s spending in line, treat the employees fairly and assure the workers of their retirement and health benefits then you only have one choice. Keep the majority in office.

David Clogg
Timonium

Question 7 Issues
Editor:

Some people view gambling as an evil and think it should be outlawed. It is an evil if taken to an excess as is everything else. If you eat too much, exercise too much or drink alcohol or even water too much, there are negative consequences. This is why the Bible says, "moderation in all things".

The evils of gambling come from those who do it to an extreme, leading to financial ruin. These people will find a place to gamble be it in Maryland or someplace else. So it makes sense to keep the money here. Many people enjoy the activity as others enjoy spending money on a movie or dinner. Many set a limit on how much they will spend gambling as do many on how much to spend on any night out. If you indulge in the stock market, bingo or any 50/50 activity, you are gambling.

My problem with Question 7 is how do we force the money extorting politicians to keep their promises as to how they will spend the money? Also, if Question 7 passes, I’ve heard that Worcester County can keep our casino’s 18% (that we currently must send to Baltimore). We certainly can use it. If Worcester can keep the 18%, I will vote "yes" on question 7.

Dennis W. Evans
Berlin

Candidate’s Union
Dodge Revealing
Editor:

I hope the voters in this city read Mr. Dare’s responses to questions asked to him in The Dispatch this past week. I believe it gave a clear insight into the man.

His answer to the question regarding unions where he would not indicate his personal feelings but instead made it a political issue leaving it up to the voters was revealing. In case you haven’t noticed Mr. Dare, towns, cities, states and even countries are presently in financial difficulties due to unsustainable commitments to benefit packages agreed to by political leaders and union bosses. No Mr. Dare this is not a political issue, it’s a spending issue and one that all present and future politicians should be concerned about and take a firm stand against.

But your final statement really indicates how you think and what you believe is the "Right Direction" when you stated that "big spending has made this town successful". No Mr. Dare what made this town successful was the people who were willing to invest their money in second homes so they could come here on weekends, holidays and vacations with family and friends to relax and enjoy the ocean. That is what made this town successful.

Your commitment of their tax dollars on large expensive projects such as buildings and parks had nothing to do with its success. It was location that made this area desirable for people to want to come here. The problem with most people who are involved with the operation of a town, city, state or country is they seem to forget after being in office for some time is that it’s not their money but the money of the taxpayers they seem so willing to spend.

Maybe it’s time, based on present financial conditions, that the voting public consider term limits as a possible solution to the problem. We have to find some way to limit spending. I’m not sure if even that would solve the problem but it would be a start. We have to start somewhere and spending is one of the major reasons we’re in this problem today. This coming election will determine which direction this country will go. God willing the people will make the right decision. Whatever the outcome, we will all have to live with the results.

But remember when voting people it’s the taxpayers’ dollar and consumers’ spending that help a nation financially not a politicians desires. Politicians and Government only take from us, the taxpaying citizens, and produce nothing but reams of rules and regulations that can hinder the ability of a nation to grow and prosper.

So, Mr. Dare, I hope you understand and will reconsider your present position on spending and unions for the sake of the relatively few permanent residence who vote. I fear the majority of them will probably vote for you. I for one won’t.

Paul St. Andre
Ocean City

Thanks For Support
Editor:

Friends of the National Ataxia Foundation would like to sincerely thank everyone who supported our 2nd Annual Ataxia Awareness Bingo, held at the Berlin Fire Hall on Sept. 29, 2012. We want to thank all of our kitchen and bingo helpers who volunteered for the event. The evening was a great success with many happy winners.

Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation goes to the following sponsors that contributed to the event:

Sam and Kay Bromley, Cynthia and John Watson, Brooks Taylor, Jim Welch, Jerrold Canakis MD, William Greer MD, Couglin family, Treasure Chest, Charles and Joan Townsend, Lou Taylor, Dee Altobelli, The Moore Companies, Dot and Gill Simpson, Linda Mariner, Bank of Ocean City, Burbage Funeral Home, Pete and Karen Pettenati, Taylor Bank, Church Mouse Thrift Shop and Friendship Church Ladies Circle and members.

Local businesses that provided auction items or services were ABC Printers, Bayside Gazette, Boardwalk Hotel Group, Burley Oak Brewery, Ace Printing, Carrabas Italian Grill, Deer Run Golf Club, Mary Lynn Donaway, Down Under Sunglasses, Donaway Furniture, Kristin Mallery Hooks, jj Fish Studio, John’s Cigars, Paul Jones, Lombardi Pizza, McDonalds, Tracy McCready, Outback, SpicePlace.com, Stewarts Antiques, TADA, Venables Cleaners, Victorian Charm and Watermans Seafood.

The proceeds from our event will be used by the National Ataxia Foundation (www.ataxia.org) in their efforts to fund research to find a cure for this neurological disorder that effects approximately 150,000 people in the United States.

JoAnn Simpson
Berlin

Rally A Success
Editor:

On Oct. 20, the Downtown Association sponsored the second OC Vintage License Plate Rally and parade down the Boardwalk. The event was co-sponsored by the Town of Ocean City and supported by the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC).

A Halloween theme was added this year and many of the participants decorated their vehicles accordingly – to the delight of all. The Collins of Abingdon, Md. was the winners of the parade with a Disney theme the judges couldn’t resist.

We have many businesses, organizations and people to thank for making this event a huge success and one we trust will grow with each passing year. The Kite Loft, Shenanigans, Greene Turtle, Blue Ox, Pickles, Dough Roller (4 locations), Wockenfuss Candy, the Captain’s Table, Dolle’s Candyland and The Pour House offered a 15% discount to participants. The Art League of Ocean City, the Coastal Bays Program, OCDC, AARP Chapter 1917, and several City departments were on hand at the Inlet Lot offering local information. DJ Bigler provided entertainment and Lisa Capitelli took a photo of each participating vehicle as it rounded the pier.

A group photo was taken from the bucket of an OC Fire Company tower truck. Photos are available at http://lisavcapitelliphotography.smugmug

The event is open to anyone who has an OC Vintage License plate. The program was started several years ago and there are now more than 12,00 vehicles around the state bearing the vintage license plate. Anyone interested in obtaining the vintage license can go to www.oceancitymd.gov click on City Hall and then City Clerk.

Downtown Association
Ocean City