The Worcester County Commissioners could not have done more to alienate the county’s bus drivers than what happened at this week’s meeting. The one good thing was the business was conducted in public and behind closed doors.
In a controversial move that required several votes, the commissioners voted to give the bus drivers a 1.5-percent annual raise, rather than the 2-percent they gave all other county employees. This is an interesting argument and I see how the commissioners came to their conclusion, based in part on the fact most bus drivers do not want all-day shifts as other employees, such as teachers, custodians and general office staff.
However, Commissioner Jim Purnell, a school bus driver, probably summed up what the many drivers in the county will think once word is received they are not thought of the same way as other employees.
“You showed me today what you think of us bus drivers. You sat up here and voted for a 2-percent increase for county employees and the Board of Education and then you turned around and stabbed us in the back. That is a total insult,” said Purnell, who is typically one of the quietest commissioners and known for his reserved and stoic mannerisms.
It was great for those of us who live and work in Berlin to hear the culprits have been apprehended in a string of burglaries dating back to last year.
I personally know of five homes that were burglarized during this time period, and it’s been difficult for my friends to deal with this invasion of privacy and the loss of their sentimental belongings.
Although those feelings may never subside and trust issues will probably persist for some time, the arrest of the father-and-daughter team of James Hughlett, 61, and Kate Hughlett, 23, does bring a certain amount of closure to the victims. Hopefully, all of the stolen goods will also be discovered in time.
Along with this week’s high-profile raid that may or may not have terrorist implications, the other major news of the week involved Ocean City Manager David Recor and the temporary protective order filed against him by his wife.
Leaving out the sordid details of the domestic situation, this ordeal has presented itself at the worst possible time for the Mayor and Council, which has been taking a public relations beating on many fronts for its unpopular decisions to shutter the skate park during a portion of the winter months and the move to more paid parking in the resort, among other cost-cutting moves eyed at balancing the budget without a major tax increase.
Although the seven members of the Mayor and Council agree on next to nothing these days, it would seem they all would find consensus in the fact this domestic situation is an untimely distraction at best and a nuisance at worst.
For Recor, who has been city manager since last June, it’s also an unfortunate situation. Some may say that’s a ridiculous statement, considering he is accused of violence against his wife and being suicidal during a recent incident. The fact is none of us can interpret domestic affairs, and they really have no place being in print. However, Recor is a public official and held to a higher standard, and it’s news. It was not a difficult judgment call from my chair on that matter.
The allegations in the order are disturbing, but before demands are made for Recor to be terminated or suspended it’s the right course to let the marital issues play out. There is a family involved here and unique dynamics certainly that none of us are aware of at this time. Additionally, we have only heard one side of the story here, and in these sorts of domestic affairs there are usually three stories — the husband’s, the wife’s and somewhere in between usually lies the truth. Either way, I hope it can be a matter that’s handled privately and not a distraction to city business.