Voices From The Readers

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Boycott Reflection

Editor:

While I sympathize with the sentiment, the DC mayor and councilmembers’ call to boycott Congressman Andy Harris’ district is a classic case of a misconceived proposal to allow one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.

Many of us did not vote for Big Government Republican Harris, who typifies conservative hypocrisy as he claims to favor limited government, while supporting restrictive, limited liberty, Big Brother interventionist policies like marijuana prohibition.

Particularly offensive is Harris’ attempt to justify his twofaced dictates with the tired trope “it’s for the children”. Please.
Stone Scruggs

Ocean City

 

Objective View Needed

Editor:

Mr. Green, as a permanent resident of Montgomery County and as a property owner in West Ocean City, I find this not only totally fair by the residents of DC, as well as an extremely biased editorial written by you (Between The Lines, July 4).

First of all Mayor Vincent Gray lost in April in the primary not last week. Your fact checking is atrocious.

Andy Harris has been basically non- existent in his role as the representative for this district nationally, and in his role as a representative in Maryland. His entire play here is to use DC as something to attempt to fire up his base to get re-elected in November. I understand that as the lone republican representative in Maryland he is in a somewhat difficult position. That said instead of pontificating over the fact that he and his committee should continue to overrule as well as oversee DC how about pushing for them to enact and enforce their own laws.  Taxation without representation should be something every republican should support. It is certainly their mantra about state’s rights shoved down our throats constantly.

Did you interview anyone in DC government to get their side of this story? No.

Why not support DC and telling Mr. Harris to stay out of their affairs and allow them to govern themselves? No.

Ocean City is run like a little fiefdom. You talk about it all the time in your paper. I am no stranger to this area as I have been coming here since the 50’s. You go ballistic in protecting OC. How about extending that same courtesy to a place that is double the size of OC in the summer and letting them figure out what is best for them? The residents of DC who are taxed at a much higher rate than you are here on the Eastern Shore should be allowed to decide these things for themselves without having someone from Maryland who has just changed its marijuana laws, make his stand for personal political reasons.

So you object to a boycott by them. The business owners here you make out to be so innocent not only vote but also support Mr. Harris financially. DC is responding with their pocketbooks and you object to that. What is your suggestion they do to object? Please enlighten us?

Andy Harris is a guy who cares only about himself and trying to further his political career. The most notable thing he has done is complain about not being able to get his government insurance fast enough upon being elected. Heaven forbid he might have had to cobra out like the rest of us “regular” people for 90 days.

If you are going to be the editor of this paper, how about taking a more objective view of things, and you know what saying this will have no effect may not be as true as you think.

Steve Schwarz

 

High Court Reflections

Editor:

In the final day of their session in June, the Supreme Court of the United States made the decision that American corporations will hence forth be treated as people. For nearly 200 years, the court has held that this should not be. In the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens (1975-2010-Protestant); corporations “have no conscience, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.”

In the last week of June the court heard the case of the arts and crafts manufacturer named Hobby Lobby vs. the United States. The majority owners of the corporation; a man and wife, held that their deeply held religious beliefs would not allow them to honor federal law by providing Plan B morning-after pills or the IUD abortion-inducing treatment to any of their 13,000 employees. The decision means that the thousands of hourly wage women employed by them and already struggling with tight family budgets will have to find other means to purchase the expensive pills. It is predicted that the decision will soon invite other corporations to suddenly use the “religious” card.

The religious make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court is: six members who practice Catholicism and three who are of the Judaism faith. Six attended Ivy League Harvard Law School while three attended Ivy League Yale Law School. America is the third most populated country in the world, (318 million); it has dozens of world class universities from coast to coast that have fine law colleges. America’s religious demographics are 51 % protestant, 20% non-believers; 25% Catholic; and less than 4% all other religions including Judaism. The make-up of our supreme court is laughable when one reads in the daily newspapers that the American government admonishes Iraqi President Maliki for not being more religiously inclusive in his government make up.

In the final decision of 5-4, five Republican appointed Catholic males, (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas) voted to recognize corporations as people. Because of their religious beliefs the executives of that corporation (Hobby Lobby) do not have to abide by federal law requiring certain birth control substances to be a part of their insurance package for their employees. The plaintiffs were Catholic man and wife corporate executives which were represented by a much respected Washington D.C. Catholic attorney.

Anyone offended by this letter (which is not intended) should be prepared to justify the following. Just hours after the majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the “deeply held religious convictions” of the corporation executives regarding abortion it was disclosed by the U.S. Dept. of labor that the Hobby Lobby corporation has $73,000,000 of corporation assets invested for profit in companies that make abortion inducing drugs and health companies that cover surgical abortions (Dvorak, Washington Post, July 1).

In short, religion was used as an excuse to accomplish economic gain for a corporation(s). The losers? Thousands upon thousands of middle class hourly paid women employees.

Thanking you I am a white male Protestant moderate Republican,

George M. Hurley

West Ocean City

 

Proud Of Local

Club Lacrosse Roots

Editor:

In response to the recent article in the sports section of The Daily Times, written by Ryan Marshall, and published on June 22, 2014, regarding a single girls lacrosse team, we would like to set the record straight regarding the inception of “club lacrosse” on the eastern shore. The concept of a girls “club lacrosse” program began in the early 2000′s, in Baltimore. A number of individuals in that area, ·which is nationally recognized as being a “hotbed” of lacrosse, recognized that girls who aspired to play lacrosse at the college level needed an opportunity to play throughout the summer to improve their skills and to find ways for college coaches to watch prospects all in one place.

The first “girls lacrosse clubs” were started in Baltimore between 2000-2003 and included clubs such as CCLax, Skywalkers, M&D Lacrosse, NEMS, HERO’s and Check Hers Elite.

Shortly thereafter, New York (another lacrosse hotbed) followed suit, and the Yellowjackets, Long Island Elite and Lady Roc soon followed. Since the traditional “rec” lacrosse programs, e.g., Beach Lacrosse, Salisbury Lacrosse Club, etc. only went through the 8th grade, there was a recognition that a similar program would be needed on the lower Eastern Shore due to increased interest in the sport, and the desire by many girls to play year-round throughout high school.

In fact, the first “club team” out of the Beach Lacrosse program was the 2007 graduation year team that was led by Tim Gilbert and Sara Tilghman. The Greene Turtle owner Tommy Dickerson recognized this need and, since the nearest established girls club lacrosse program was in Annapolis, decided to create a local program so that young lax players could remain on the shore. He, along with the club’s future administrator, Anne Turner, decided to give their time, resources and sponsorship to the creation of the “Greene Turtle Girls Lacrosse Club”. From 2006-2013, the club fielded eight teams, with over 200 girls from the Eastern Shore (some from as far away as Kent Island) participating. Steve Pappas, Tommy’s partner, started the boys’ lacrosse program about a year later.

Our girls program graduated over 150 players, with approximately 80 girls going on to play collegiate lacrosse at the Division I, II and III levels. We are proud of the accomplishments of all our players both on and off the field, whether they decided to play collegiate lacrosse or not. Over the years, with the increasing growing interest in the sport, and hundreds of new club programs popping up all over, there simply became too many programs and not enough players.

As a result, we have graduated our last Greene Turtle Girls Lacrosse Team, our 2014′s. It has been a true honor to have been able to provide so many memorable experiences for our players and to have contributed to their athletic, social and emotional development. We are proud to note that “Greene Turtle Girls Lacrosse” graduates have gone on to play at the collegiate level at United States Naval Academy, Davidson, Richmond, Virginia Tech, Towson, Loyola, Stanford, Jacksonville, High Point, Salisbury, Mary Washington, Lynchburg, Franklin & Marshall, Elizabethtown, McDaniel, Wesleyan, Pfieffer, Furman, Queens, Rollins, Catholic, Coastal Carolina, Florida Southern and Randolph Macon to name a few.

We are also extremely proud of and grateful for our volunteer coaches over the years. Without them, none of it would have been possible: Steve Falck, Rich Larrimore, Chuck Robertson, Cathi Coates, Paul Peksa, Terry Vincent, Chris Carroll, Greg Langeler, Joe Gamble and Bart Talbert, we thank you. Finally, thank you to our parents, for your time, effort and unending support of your daughters and Greene Turtle Girls Lacrosse.

In addition, we would be remiss if we did not give a shout out to our very own 2009 player and graduate, Allie Gamble. In her first year as Head Coach, Allie led the Worcester Prep Mallards to an undefeated season this year. We are immensely proud of each and every one of you and wish you nothing but the best in all your future endeavors.

Tommy Dickerson and “More than a few” former players and their parents

 

Resources Strained

By OC Compensation

Editor:

Last week it was reported that the Ocean City Council awarded a contract for $45,960 to conduct a Compensation and Benefit Study on city employees. The study will come after the council awarded two generous pay increases to full-time employees since the last election. The cumulative increases were 7.87% to 22.87% raises. In contrast, national wages increased 1% and inflation reached about 1.5% annually.

This is very perplexing. First, the wages are disproportionately large. Second, the raises should have come after this study, not before. The council should be acting in the residents’ and businesses’ best interest when spending our tax dollars and obligating us to loans, not padding employee’s generous and unnecessary salaries than taxing us to cover the difference.

With the new salaries and benefits, the 2015 budget is $62,531,065: at least 6.5% higher than the 2013 figures published in the March 28, 2014, edition of Ocean City Today. Overtime pay could substantially increase the figure for the 2015 payroll and benefits. Allowing 20% to 25% for part-time, that leaves a range of $46,276,263 to $49,527,223. Assuming 520 full-time employees (there may be fewer), their average salary, plus benefits, is in a range of $88,992 to $95,244. This conservative estimate is too high considering the average voter only earns about $50,000 a year and the city is only busy three months a year. It is also approximately 40% higher than comparable salaries at other municipalities, why? What is supporting this high level of expense that is having a negative effect on the residents and businesses in Ocean City?

First, since the great recession ended in 2009, our council has increased real estate taxes four times. The rate has gone from 38 cents (38 cents) per $100 of assessed value to (47.25 cents), an increase of about 25%. County taxes have gone from 70 cents to 77 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 10% increase. Worsening the tax burden assessments are up more than 82% over 10 years. So the inflation-adjusted tax burden has risen 45% in real terms. This huge increase in real-estate taxes, along with other taxes, fines, fees and constricting ordinances have undermined the vitality of the economy and caused many residents to leave to Delaware, Ocean Pines, West Ocean City, putting more strain on those remaining. These higher rates and assessments should yield greater tax revenue, but despite four tax increases, higher assessments, tax revenues have declined for five consecutive years, from a high of over $47 million to the $41-$42 million range, reflecting the decline in the residential and commercial economy.

That these politicians would increase tax rates with the economy contracting while not cutting expenses is shocking. They certainly would behave differently with their own money. Ten years ago, real estate taxes reached about $25 million, well less than the $40 million range today, even adjusting for inflation. In 2004, real-estate taxes were 45% lower and the economy at this lower level of absolute taxes, thrived.  Next week I will take a look at the Mayor and Council’s recent record over the past 20 months, now four months before the next election.

The last five years property values have declined and people have moved to areas with lower taxes. A vibrant economy should be the primary mission of the Mayor and Council. It isn’t. Why not? In the face of these declines, the Mayor and Council have continued to increase fines, fees, penalties, and borrowings. Why?

In an effort to pay the city employees bloated and increasing salaries and benefits, the mayor and council majority have added fines, fees and more parking meters, (even when 1,647 signatures said no more meters), on top of tax increases to further impair our residents and businesses. Even the bus fares were increased 33%, which the lowest income members of our community depend on to get to work as the Mayor and Council grope to pay unnecessary employee salaries.

As a taxpayer, I am very concerned. These trends set in motion by wrongheaded decisions by the Mayor and Council are structural, as such not going to change with a general economic pick-up. They must be voted out if we hope to see a return of our once vibrant economy. The costs of these unnecessary pay raises are largely born by our declining resident population and our sputtering economy. It is imprudent to continue adding expenses on residents. The government should not only stop doing it, but reverse their inappropriate actions to slowly restore our once vibrant economy.

Tony Christ

Ocean City

 

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