Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Since deciding to add paid parking to 146th Street last Friday, the Ocean City Mayor and Council has been lit up with criticism from nearby condominium owners.

The decision was part of a larger move to bring in more revenue to the city. Also voted on was a weekend rate increase for the Inlet parking lot and paid parking in a couple other streets in the resort.

The council will most likely hear a lot of criticism about the 146th Street change at an upcoming meeting. This will not be the first time the decision has rankled residents in the Ocean Place Condominium, as they turned out at a meeting three years ago to protest the consideration of the street becoming paid parking. The council at that time quickly decided not to pursue paid parking on that street in a 5-2 vote (with Councilmen Doug Cymek and Joe Hall opposed to backing down at the time).

It’s going to be interesting to see what the council decides in the face of this most recent protest that has included several emails to elected officials crying foul. If the plan proceeds, the condo complex has vowed to erect a gate at its parking lot entrance to prevent motorists from traveling from 146th Street (a dead-end) to 145th Street, where parking will be free. TO the north of the block is Delaware where there is paid parking. The result of the gate being erected will be a logjam, residents maintain.

“There is no way to drive from 146th to 145th Street without going through our parking lot. Wight Street ends at 145th. Thus, if someone wants to park on 146th and sees there is only paid parking there and does not want to pay to park, they will proceed south to free parking at 145th and lower. How will they do that? They would go through our lot. That is likely to occur often and we will not allow that because it is unsafe. We will have to close off our entrance on 146th. That will cost us greatly and inconvenience and aggravate just about everyone. 146th Street will become an area of cars turning, backing up, and maneuvering only able to leave by going to the highway. Then they can only go north into Delaware. It will be a mess. Did anyone think about this in advance? We would have been able to discuss this if we were asked,” said Ronald Deacon wrote in a letter to the Mayor and Council.

The council quickly changed its mind when Deacon and his colleagues came before the council three years ago, and it will be intriguing to see whether the new revenue generated from the paid parking will be enough to overshadow the resident concerns.

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My April jury duty service wrapped up last week with what I would consider a huge waste of six hours and taxpayer dollars.

Last Thursday I was appointed to serve on a Circuit Court jury for a driving under the influence case involving an Ocean City man who was pulled over by a resort cop for swerving on Coastal Highway. What made this case particularly interesting was the traffic stop and subsequent conversations and field sobriety tests were recorded by a camera in the cop’s car. The video was the one part of the case that was entertaining.

However, due to a technological glitch with the court’s DVD player, the judge was forced to send the jury to lunch so the state and defense could figure out an alternative. Everyone was frustrated by this delay, including the judge who warned the state he would not allow the jury’s time to be wasted if the state could not figure out the problem. After an hour and a half delay, the case resumed with the playing of the tape showing how drunk the defendant was and how miserably he performed during the field tests.

In fact, once the jury was handed the case to deliberate on, it took less than a minute for us to return a guilty verdict. We were one highly annoyed jury. There was the technological goof that made the service so much longer than it needed to be as well as the obvious fact the defendant was guilty of driving under the influence. Instead of simply pleading guilty in the first place, he put himself through the embarrassment of having to watch himself on television in court and made a complete fool of himself.

Neither the state nor the defense is to blame here, but it seems to me there should be some sort of prerequisite to asking for a jury trial. There needs to be some kind of legitimacy shown before the court’s time is wasted and 13 jurors are forced to sit through a ridiculous trial such as that one. The defendant was well within his rights to ask for a jury trial, and I know there is nothing that can be done to circumvent that, but it was a terribly frustrating experience for those of who had to sit on that jury.

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