Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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It’s disturbing to see the Ocean City Mayor and Council agree to appropriate $165,000 toward the design of a new beach patrol headquarters, while advocating for controversial cost-cutting moves, such as expanding paid parking in the resort and significantly reducing skate park hours.

This is an inconsistent approach and the council needs to reconsider this poorly timed decision. The idea behind this funding allocation is it will be refunded at a later time through a bond issuance, which is basically debt accumulation. It’s understandable the beach patrol building downtown is a serious blight and even a safety hazard, but there are obvious concerns here over the council’s inconsistent methodology.

On one hand, the financial picture is such a concern the city has spent months exploring alternative revenue sources to make up the budget gap between expenditures and revenues, which have taken a pounding due to declining property values. That’s a major issue and I generally support the city’s initiatives to raise new monies through more parking meter spaces and cutting the graveyard shift of the bus system in the offseason. However, to initiate a series of service cuts, including closure of the skate park in January and February and reducing its hours from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and then allocate significant financial resources for a major reconstruction project for a department that will basically utilize it four months of the year is bad policy.

There is no question the Ocean City Beach Patrol is one of the town’s crown jewels and deserves better than its present accommodations on Dorchester Street, but I think this is the wrong year to begin the expensive process of acquiring vacant lots from the OCDC and then designing and building the new facility. It’s particularly disheartening that it comes when the Mayor and Council are under significant fire for some other budget balancing moves, which were all made in the name of saving money and boosting revenues.

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Congratulations to 17-year-old Mike Durkin for getting involved in a cause he feels passionate about.

A senior at Worcester Prep facing graduation in three weeks, Durkin launched an online petition after hearing Ocean City officials are planning on basically making the skate park a seasonal operation. With an eye on slashing expenses, the town is planning to significantly reduce offseason hours of the Ocean Bowl Skate Park to just weekends and days when is closed after Labor Day and shutter the facility altogether in January and February.

Agree or disagree with his cause, the teenager deserves credit for showing the initiative to get involved at a time in his life when he is juggling a lot and wrapping up his high school career. Perhaps the most honorable thing is he will be attending college in the fall when this proposal is set to go into effect and will not be impacted whatsoever. He was merely stepping up for his friends and colleagues who will be here next fall and look forward to utilizing the skate park during the school year.

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Former Ocean City Councilman Joe Hall may be out of office, but he has apparently not lost his zeal for politics. In fact, he is giving our most frequent online commentators — folks by the name of Bushman and Supervisor Frank — a running for their money.

For those who don’t know, visitors to our website have the opportunity to comment on stories posted. Once they are screened and approved, the comments appear at the bottom of the article. Some of the comments are flattering to the paper, while others are critical and harsh. Some comments are insightful, while others are not germane to the topic at all. Some comments are poignant and some are disconcerting.

In the case of Hall’s comments, I rarely know how to describe them. Below is a response to an editorial penned last week questioning why Worcester County chose not to do a national search for its chief administrative officer vacancy and instead promoted from within. The opinion piece contrasted that decision to what Ocean City has recently done with its high-profile job openings, such as the police chief and the city manager posts. In his customary inarticulate and befuddling manner, Hall took exception with the paper’s point of view.

“You couldn’t be wronger Steve. One you forgot Ocean City hired the City Clerk from within. That’s a high profile position. She is doing great. We also tried to give our best inside guy a chance. Hale Adkins for the City Manager’s Job. Some of you elite council member’s you support wouldn’t even give him the respect of a sit down interview walking out on him. While as for the police chiefs job. If you think my phone call was lame brain. What your boys are doning in chief police search over the top,” he wrote. “You should do some of your own homework. Going outside can be worthy cause. Hiring from within gives confidence in your home team. To think outsider’s know better than home grown speaks volumes about how you feel about our local talent. Blue ribbon school system can produce good enough management people. Steve your way off. I believe in buy local, and hire local whenever you can.”

9 comments on “Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

  1. Thank you to all the voting citizens who un-elected Joe Hall. Clueless as the day is long he is.

  2. And to think this guy was on the “Majority” side for two years. I can’t believe Jim Hall went along with the things Joe wanted and subsequently they both lost their seats. But the ironic thing to happen out of the City Manager national search is the guy the “Majority” wanted got hired, and now Brent Ashley (another “Majority” member), was dissatisfied with something Mr. Recor did at a recent meeting. Just shows there was no real direction for the two years that the “Majority” was in place.

  3. Steve,
    You are the man. I can count on you never letting me down. It’s never been a secret that my grammar skills are challenging to understand. Guess for me, it was part of growing up on eastern shore,where I spent my time on the water or in the woods which seemed a better use of my time, than paying attention in school. Back in those days inside Worcester County Schools you could get away with sleeping in class. I don’t believe and hope that’s not the case today. The county has invested in the quality of our schools. It’s very large investment at that(taxpayer funded) in educating our children for jobs the county doesn’t offer or support(currently);in turn so many of our young are forced to move away due to depressing job market. I accept my weekness in my grammar skills as a matter of fact. It doesn’t stop me from embracing my passion for Ocean City and the Eastern Shore. The fact is my desire to make a positive difference in my town and county has given me the confidence to be engaged. If I had let my weak grammar skills intimidate me I would have never ran seven council races and winning three terms for a total of ten years on city council. While I support your right to network and socialize with a bunch of elite cocktail hour better than the rest of us crowd. I’m happy to hang out with my good old Shore Billy friends we may not be polished, but anyone thinks a Shore Billy is stupid would be mistaken. I may not be polished and when I eat a sandwich I never cut off the crust. So Steve you continue to embrace your better than the rest of us crowd and I will speak to my crowd. I embrace Homegrown and local is best.The push to make Ocean City something that it’s not is hurting what Ocean City is and always been, a seasonal eastern shore family seashore beach resort. We don’t need drinkfest every weekend to improve us. If elected officials would just stop trying to help us we all would be just fine. Ok grammar police have at it. Live, Life, Large the Ocean City Way!

  4. In my opinion Joe Hall could not be “wronger” in regards to his illogical logic of always going with so-called local talent. He is part of the Good Ol’ Boys network so of course he is going to be bias and favor his good ol’ buddies and family members. Local talent is lacking here compared to Metropolitan areas and Worcester County should have definitely chosen to execute a national search for its chief administrative officer vacancy instead of promoting within.

    As an “Other Side Of The Bridger” who has lived within the region for 6 years, it is quite obvious that the long-time Shorebillies favor their family and friends for job positions, as well as giving them special favor$, and often shun us Western Shorers.

    The Lower Eastern Shore is a scarcely populated area with a lower percentage of well educated and intelligent people, which is why a nationwide search for certain job positions is absolutely necessary. The region’s population increases each year and more and more of us Western Shorers are “setting camp” here in permanence. Change is unwanted by long-time locals, but change is inevitable and desperately needed to fix a lot of long-time problems that the long-time locals created…especially financial problems. SERIOUS financial problems. Instead of constantly rejecting change, the time is now for old fashioned long-timers to start embracing it.

  5. This ongoing public feud between the editor of the Dispatch and the former OC Councilman – not sure what adjective(s) to use to properly describe it – sad, unprofessional, and comical come to mind.

    And Mr. Hall is smarter than you all think, if you would only take the time to read and understand what he writes. What should be emphasized are these words that he typed: “The push to make Ocean City something that it’s not is hurting what Ocean City is and always been, a seasonal eastern shore family seashore beach resort. We don’t need drinkfest every weekend to improve us.”

    What OC needs is to figure out how to get the 10% drop in summer attendance back into the town during the summer. That would help OC out on numerous fronts.

  6. John in Essex – regarding your advice to us about Joe Hall stating that we should “take the time to read and understand what he writes”, I’m not trying to be cruel but it takes most of us a lot of time to comprehend what Joe is trying to relate due to his very poor grammar and his “Comma Shaker” that he sprinkles throughout his comments. Every time I read his comments in various publications, Linclon’s quote – “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” ALWAYS comes to mind.

    As far as you stating that “We don’t need drinkfest every weekend to improve us”, I agree but I fear that it is too late due to the irreversible damage that has been done over the years. With the increasing number of bars that have popped up over the past 20 years and the new casino, Ocean City is now the new “Sin City” party town in the U.S. and no longer the family-friendly resort it once was in its yesteryears. Due to this transgression on top of the never-ending tax increases, various other fee increases, and paid parking spaces increases imposed by OC’s greedy, bias, and selfish city officials more and more families are heading south to vacation…and who could blame them?

  7. Citizen OC – agreed that Joe Hall isn’t the most comprehendible wordsmith.

    To clarify, Joe Hall made the ‘We dont need drinkfest…’ statement, not I.

    After visiting Ocean City NJ, which is a true family resort, I agree with your assessment of Ocean City MD, that it’s not the family resort that it once was.

    More families and others are no longer vacationing here because they have found out that they can get more for less at other destinations. I’ve been preaching this message for years, and many ‘higher ups’ in the OC food chain don’t want to hear this truth.

    Increase the summer population by the 10% that has been lost and maybe the town wont have to keep finding more ways to increase fees, taxes, and the like for visitors and non-resident property owners.

    This all being said, I STILL LOVE Ocean City Maryland!!! Plenty of good stuff going on here too!!!

  8. John in Essex – I love OC as well and agree that OC is a great place with “plenty of good stuff going on here” but as aforementioned, there has been a lot of irreversible damage inflicted unnecessarily by the mayor and OC’s council over the years and there is a lot more bad stuff going on here as each year goes by. It’s very sad for myself and many others to helplessly watch them create gloom and doom in “our” town that they mistakenly and delusionally think is “theirs.”

    The mayor and council members are seriously lacking in the “Vision Department.” Their greedy, corruptive, and selfish ways have blinded their vision and deafened their ears to listening to the wise and prudent advice of the area’s tourists, residents and property owners. They seem to be only focusing on the “now” and could care less if they progressively create a calamatous “tomorrow” that many of us foresee in Ocean City’s future. As an adult it is very depressing to watch OC’s conditions deteriorate today, but as a parent it is even more depressing to think about how horrific OC’s conditions will be for my children and grandchildren tomorrow if this madness continues.

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