Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

tdbetween11

The Hudson farm case wrapped up last month, and it was interesting to observe public comments issued by local and state elected officials.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Attorney General Doug Gansler both took turns lauding the judge’s decision that based on the evidence presented there was no Clean Water Act violation committed by Perdue and the Hudson’s family farm. Additionally, a slew of special interest groups chimed in as well with words of praise for the judge and condemnation for the environmental groups that brought the charges.

This week some Worcester County Commissioners threw their opinions into the hat as well. It’s no secret around these parts most elected officials supported the farm and were outspoken critics of the litigation, sparked locally by the Assateague Coastal Trust initially and then led by the Waterkeeper Alliance. It’s an easy political football to throw around and the argument is an obvious one for politicians to make. It goes something like, farming is the backbone of our past and present and this lawsuit jeopardizes the future of agriculture and the livelihoods of thousands of local families.

For their part, Commissioner Bud Church said, “It’s a travesty that this ever happened.” Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who raises chickens, opined, “It was an assault on the poultry farm families in the state of Maryland.”

In the meantime, what remains unclear at this point are two major aspects. One, early on in the court process, the judge said he would have no problem demanding the Waterkeeper Alliance foot some of the Hudson family’s legal bills if the case was found meritless. In his 50-page ruling, the judge never addressed that, leading many to assume that will not happen. Secondly, the Waterkeeper Alliance has not confirmed whether it will let the Clean Water Act allegations drop with this ruling or if an appeal is planned.

At this point, I hope this is the end of it. Worcester Environmental Programs Director Bob Mitchell reflected my feelings when he said at this week’s meeting, ““This case seems to have losers all the way around and I hope that we can go forward.”

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Congress is a disgrace.

Millions of residents in New York and New Jersey were snubbed this week when the fiscal cliff maneuvers left the $60 billion aid bill on life support and without official approval from the federal government. It became a victim of political disagreements with legislators promising funds would soon be released after the new Congress is sworn into office yesterday.

However, I found it appalling there was time in the waning hours before and after the cliff deadline to extend federal tax credits for offshore wind energy projects including a potential project off the coast of Ocean City.

What a joke.

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Berlin was packed again for New Year’s Eve for its annual ball drop celebration. It didn’t seem as crowded to me as previous years, but that could be largely due to the fact people were spread out through the downtown core more this year than in the past. Noticeable improvements were made to the event, such as the new and improved ball drop, and the mini-Times Square feel is quite charming for attendees.

In north Ocean City, officials tried something new this year to ring in 2013, and reports are it was a smashing success for its first attempt. In coordination with the 20th Anniversary of Winterfest of Lights, the city decided to launch fireworks, at a cost of about $10,000, from Northside Park directly after midnight. All the while attendees could enjoy Winterfest of Lights and live entertainment. This should be an annual addition to the town’s special events calendar.