Ex-City Manager To Get 6-Month Severance Pay, Per Contract If ‘Terminated’

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OCEAN CITY — It may have been a “mutual” decision, but from a financial perspective City Manager David Recor was essentially terminated on Monday.

The employment agreement between Recor and the city renewed automatically for another year on June 11. Within the agreement are a number of points outlining the job requirements, expectations, an annual performance review and specific compensation and benefits details. Also included are procedures agreed upon in the event of termination and severance pay.

City officials were mum on specifics this week because it was a personnel matter, but it has been confirmed through reliable sources that Recor will receive six months of severance pay. His contract states in the event he is terminated he would receive half of his annual salary over the course of regular pay periods over six months.

“In the event city refuses or fails, following written notice, to comply with any provision benefitting Recor herein, or in the event Recor resigns following a request by the city that he resign, then in that event Recor may, at his option, be deemed to be ‘terminated’ …,” the contract reads.

The agreement clearly outlines what happens if the city terminates Recor in the middle of a contract year, which in this case runs from June 11, 2015 to June 11, 2016.

“In the event city terminates Recor before the expiration of the aforesaid term of employment, or provides Recor written notice of non-renewal, and during such time that Recor is willing and able to perform his duties under this Agreement, then in that event, city agrees to pay Recor his normal monthly salary and benefits for the month in which his duties were terminated in addition to his normal salary and benefits equivalent to six months of employment and paid on a regular pay-period basis,” the agreement reads.

In the calendar year 2014, Recor was paid $164,879, meaning the city will be on the hook for more than $82,000, which does not include health insurance costs as well as unused vacation and sick time payouts.

For what it’s worth, if Recor had voluntarily resigned his post in the middle of a contract year, he would have needed to give the city 90 days written notice and he would have been compensated for unused vacation time (he was allowed five weeks each year after his first year) but not for any unused sick leave (which he received 12 days of per calendar year).

Recor’s last day on the job was Monday, the same day he and the council reportedly “mutually agreed and accepted” his resignation in the words of Council President Lloyd Martin, who announced the move at Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting.

While the city did quickly provide this newspaper with Recor’s employment agreement after a Freedom of Information Act request on Wednesday, officials did not comment on specific questions about the financial terms of the separation.

It’s typical practice in government for high-ranking city officials to receive a severance when a separation occurs. When Recor left Fort Pierce, Fla. in 2012 under trying circumstances, it was a similar situation as here in Ocean City.  A majority of the council there voted to accept his resignation after it was clear Recor was negotiating with Ocean City to be the next city manager here.

Recor received about $153,000 as part of a severance package that was negotiated between he and Fort Pierce, Fla. at that time. He received nine months’ salary plus payment of life and medical insurance and cashed out on accrued vacation/sick time, among other accrued compensation.

In Recor’s contract with Ocean City, the terms of employment are clearly laid out and included are efforts to be made if the city finds the city manager to be performing at subpar levels.

“Recor agrees that he will at all times faithfully, industriously and to the best of his ability, experience and talents, perform all the duties which may be required of and from him pursuant to the express and implicit terms hereof, to the reasonable satisfaction of city. In the event a majority of the City Council identifies, by reasonable and objective standards, a substantial and material deficiency(s) in Recor’s performance of duty, under this Agreement, such that same constitutes a breach of this Agreement, city shall identify the substantial and material deficiency(s) with a Notice to Cure within 30 days. If Recor fails to cure the substantial and material performance deficiency(s) within 30 days, city may terminate Recor’s employment without pay or benefits pursuant to [Termination and Severance Pay].

In this case, there is no record of a “Notice to Cure” effort being requested by the council. The severance package agreed upon indicates the city was looking to provide a fair compensation to Recor without a termination on his resume. This is typical practice in government. Recent history in Ocean City confirms that as former City Manager Dennis Dare was given an ultimatum by the Mayor and Council in 2011 — resign or be fired. He chose resignation and negotiated a retirement package after 29 years of employment with the city.

Ex-City Manager To Get 6-Month Severance, Per Contract If ‘Terminated’

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OCEAN CITY — It may have been a “mutual” decision, but from a financial perspective City Manager David Recor was essentially terminated on Monday.

The employment agreement between Recor and the city renewed automatically for another year on June 11. Within the agreement are a number of points outlining the job requirements, expectations, an annual performance review and specific compensation and benefits details. Also included are procedures agreed upon in the event of termination and severance pay.

City officials were mum on specifics this week because it was a personnel matter, but it has been confirmed through reliable sources that Recor will receive six months of severance pay. His contract states in the event he is terminated he would receive half of his annual salary over the course of regular pay periods over six months.

“In the event city refuses or fails, following written notice, to comply with any provision benefitting Recor herein, or in the event Recor resigns following a request by the city that he resign, then in that event Recor may, at his option, be deemed to be ‘terminated’ …,” the contract reads.

The agreement clearly outlines what happens if the city terminates Recor in the middle of a contract year, which in this case runs from June 11, 2015 to June 11, 2016.

“In the event city terminates Recor before the expiration of the aforesaid term of employment, or provides Recor written notice of non-renewal, and during such time that Recor is willing and able to perform his duties under this Agreement, then in that event, city agrees to pay Recor his normal monthly salary and benefits for the month in which his duties were terminated in addition to his normal salary and benefits equivalent to six months of employment and paid on a regular pay-period basis,” the agreement reads.

In the calendar year 2014, Recor was paid $164,879, meaning the city will be on the hook for more than $82,000, which does not include health insurance costs as well as unused vacation and sick time payouts.

For what it’s worth, if Recor had voluntarily resigned his post in the middle of a contract year, he would have needed to give the city 90 days written notice and he would have been compensated for unused vacation time (he was allowed five weeks each year after his first year) but not for any unused sick leave (which he received 12 days of per calendar year).

Recor’s last day on the job was Monday, the same day he and the council reportedly “mutually agreed and accepted” his resignation in the words of Council President Lloyd Martin, who announced the move at Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting.

While the city did quickly provide this newspaper with Recor’s employment agreement after a Freedom of Information Act request on Wednesday, officials did not comment on specific questions about the financial terms of the separation.

It’s typical practice in government for high-ranking city officials to receive a severance when a separation occurs. When Recor left Fort Pierce, Fla. in 2012 under trying circumstances, it was a similar situation as here in Ocean City.  A majority of the council there voted to accept his resignation after it was clear Recor was negotiating with Ocean City to be the next city manager here.

Recor received about $153,000 as part of a severance package that was negotiated between he and Fort Pierce, Fla. at that time. He received nine months’ salary plus payment of life and medical insurance and cashed out on accrued vacation/sick time, among other accrued compensation.

In Recor’s contract with Ocean City, the terms of employment are clearly laid out and included are efforts to be made if the city finds the city manager to be performing at subpar levels.

“Recor agrees that he will at all times faithfully, industriously and to the best of his ability, experience and talents, perform all the duties which may be required of and from him pursuant to the express and implicit terms hereof, to the reasonable satisfaction of city. In the event a majority of the City Council identifies, by reasonable and objective standards, a substantial and material deficiency(s) in Recor’s performance of duty, under this Agreement, such that same constitutes a breach of this Agreement, city shall identify the substantial and material deficiency(s) with a Notice to Cure within 30 days. If Recor fails to cure the substantial and material performance deficiency(s) within 30 days, city may terminate Recor’s employment without pay or benefits pursuant to [Termination and Severance Pay].

In this case, there is no record of a “Notice to Cure” effort being requested by the council. The severance package agreed upon indicates the city was looking to provide a fair compensation to Recor without a termination on his resume. This is typical practice in government. Recent history in Ocean City confirms that as former City Manager Dennis Dare was given an ultimatum by the Mayor and Council in 2011 — resign or be fired. He chose resignation and negotiated a retirement package after 29 years of employment with the city.

 

UPDATED: City Manager Maintains He Followed Appropriate Policies After Accident

City Manager David Recor is pictured this morning taking photos of the replacement sign he knocked down last Friday on Route 50.

OCEAN CITY — Questions swirled this week around the city manager’s accident in a city-owned vehicle and a requisite drug and alcohol screening that came back clear.

City Manager David Recor was driving west on Route 50 in his city vehicle — a 2014 Chevy Tahoe — when he struck a road sign pole near Golf Course Road around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, July 10. Recor, who said he was on his way to Wawa for his morning coffee, did not immediately stop at the scene of the collision and instead turned around at the intersection of Routes 50 and 611 before returning to remove the downed sign from the highway. He rejected eyewitness accounts that he fled the scene, but admitted he did not stop initially at the site of the collision.

“After hitting the road sign, in order to return to the location safely, I made a U-turn at the very next intersection at Route 50 and Route 611. I immediately returned directly to the location and removed the broken sign from the roadway,” Recor said.

The accident was witnessed by an off-duty Ocean City police officer, who relayed the tag number of the vehicle to the dispatch center. Significant damage to the front of the vehicle, including a broken headlight and a cracked windshield, occurred.

After removing the sign from Route 50, Recor said he received a call from Ocean City Communications inquiring if he had been an accident and that a Maryland State Police trooper was on his way. Recor said he met with that trooper before heading to City Hall and informing city Risk Manager Eric Lagstrom of the damage to his city-owned Tahoe. Later, around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, the investigating trooper came to City Hall to serve Recor with a traffic citation.

Lagstrom told Recor he would have to take a drug and alcohol test as is consistent with city policy in these situations when city-owned property is involved.

Recor did not immediately comply, according to sources and went about his daily business. Council President Lloyd Martin and Police Commission Chairman and Councilman Doug Cymek were immediately informed of the situation. Recor said he followed city protocol and disputed earlier reports that he refused to take the test when requested.

Recor waited until the end of business on Friday to take the alcohol and drug test. Recor said Wednesday afternoon the test results came back negative and explained he was busy interviewing candidates for the vacant Planning and Zoning Department director post on Friday.

“Contrary to what has been ‘reported,’ I did not refuse to comply with the Town’s post-accident Alcohol and Drug Screening Policy,” said Recor. “In addition, contrary to what has been ‘reported,’ I was not ordered or threatened with disciplinary action to comply with the testing procedure, rather, the Director of Human Resources and I proceeded to complete scheduled interviews with candidates for the Director of Planning and Zoning position lasting into the afternoon.”

Recor, 48, was charged by Maryland State Police with negligent driving vehicle in careless and imprudent manner endangering property, life and person. The charge carries a fine of $140. Recor notified the Mayor and Council via email of the incident on Friday afternoon, according to sources.

Recor shared that email Wednesday afternoon. In the email, Recor admitted to being at fault in the accident and attributed it to a “deteriorating vision/depth perception.”

“I wanted to let the Mayor and Council know that I hit a State Highway Administration road sign this morning approaching the intersection of Route 50 and Golf Course Road while driving my City vehicle. No other parties involved. There is damage to the left side bumper, headlight cover and scrape above the left fender and cracked windshield from the sign,” Recor wrote. “I met with State Trooper Dick at the scene to give him my statement.  I reported the incident to Risk Management when I arrived at City Hall. Please note that I am complying with the Town’s standard practice of Post-Accident Testing for both Breath Alcohol and Drugs which will be completed before close of business today. I thought it was important that the Mayor and Council receive this information directly from me and not by way of ‘word on the street.’”

Many within the city questioned why Recor was allowed to delay the drug and alcohol screening in the first place. It has been confirmed normal practice is for the employee to take the screening immediately upon being instructed.

The Town of Ocean City Maryland Employee Handbook clearly states, “refusing to cooperate in or submit to questioning, medical or physical tests or examination, or an inspection or search, when requested or conducted by the Town or its designee” will be considered “a violation” and “considered a major offense, which in the Town’s judgement, may result in probation, suspension subject to discharge or discharge…”

Additionally, the handbook stipulates the town can test for alcohol and drugs under numerous circumstances, one of which is “following a safety infraction or work-related accident that does or might cause bodily injury or damage to property in the Town’s judgment.”

Recor, who was taking photos at the collision scene Thursday morning, believes he acted according to the city’s policy and views the matter as complete. At some point, the Mayor and Council are expected to review the matter and as a group has not discussed it as of Thursday morning. However, it was announced Thursday morning the Mayor and City Council will convene for a closed session at 11 a.m. to discuss “personnel matters.”

“I complied with the Town’s post-accident screening procedure and, contrary to what has been ‘reported,’ I am not aware of any pending ‘investigation’ by either the Maryland State Police or the Town of Ocean City,” said Recor. “I hold the responsibilities of my position as city manager in the highest regard and do not expect special favors or treatment because of my position.  I expect to be held accountable for my actions just like any other law abiding citizen.  I am human.  I make mistakes.  I hit a road sign while driving a Town vehicle.  It was an accident.  Unfortunate, but an accident nonetheless.”

A Maryland State Police report has not been released to the media. An employee at the Berlin barrack said the responding trooper was in training the early part of the week and was catching up on paperwork from Friday, including this incident.

This is not the first time Recor has damaged his city vehicle. Most recently, in mid-June, approximately $1,500 in repairs were necessary after a gasoline can toppled over inside his vehicle. While in the city shop for those repairs, he asked for his windows to be tinted as well. That work was completed.

Recor, an International City/County Management Association credentialed manager since 2007, was hired by the city in June 2012, by a 4-3 vote of the council, after former City Manager Dennis Dare, now a current councilman, was terminated by the City Council at that time. Recor came to the city from Fort Pierce, Fla. after a nationwide search.

Ocean City Prepared For ‘College Beach Week’ Event, Typical June Activities

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OCEAN CITY — For several months, Ocean City public safety officials have been getting out in front of a planned beach week event next weekend that has a troubled past including discussions with the event promoter and bringing in extra law enforcement resources.

Local businesses officially learned of the planned “College Beach Week” event in early May when Ocean City Communications Director Jessica Waters and Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) Executive Director Susan Jones sent a letter to members alerting them of the city’s approach to the event and June in general.

“In an effort to keep communications open, we are reaching out regarding the month of June. Returning the weekend of June 5-7, 2015 will be College Beach Week. The Town of Ocean City has taken a proactive approach and met with the event organizer. They have communicated to them, as well as other groups, that they are welcome as long as they obey the same rules everyone else is expected to obey,” the letter reads. “Rest assured, there is a coordinated effort among surrounding agencies to maintain peace and order throughout June.”

The letter then seeks information from members about specific guest requests for room blocks, adjoining rooms, atypical reservation bookings, planned events and any surges or cancellations in reservations. The letter essentially fosters a partnership between the city and private business to maintain essential communication in advance of the event, such as the names of any hired security companies.

On the heels of that letter, Ocean City Police Captain Kevin Kirstein, who heads the department’s patrol division, reached out to local restaurateurs later in May with an outreach effort to secure food vouchers for law enforcement that will be in town next weekend assisting Ocean City police. In the letter, he thanked the business community for its outstanding response, including hotels that have offered free rooms to responding Maryland State Police troopers. The letter outlines a food voucher program where each trooper would be given a dinner ticket for June 5 and breakfast, lunch and dinner tickets for June 6.

“I will provide a list of participating restaurants and times to each trooper receiving meal tickets. Participating restaurants would agree to provide each meal, collect the meal ticket and submit it to the OCPD for reimbursement (including gratuity…,” wrote Kirstein, who added the reimbursement rates would be $7 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $20 for dinner.

Last summer, on the same first weekend in June, an event organized by the same private promoter was called “College Takeover Beach Week,” which based off social media hype and planned attendees’ online postings was to be a large gathering in Ocean City. The concept of any sort of “takeover” was enough to raise serious concerns on the island and nearby areas.

As a result of crime concerns, such as vandalism, burglaries and serious violence, from a similarly themed event in Virginia Beach the previous summer, private businesses ramped up security personnel and Ocean City police made a concerted effort to have a “highly visible police presence and proactive enforcement,” according to Police Chief Ross Buzzuro.

Despite a 27-percent increase in the total number of arrests from the period of Thursday, June 5-Monday, June 9, 2014, compared to the same stretch in 2013, the OCPD reported no major incidents and most arrests were typical of the time of year. Total arrests were up considerably, however, from 173 in 2013 to 219 in 2014, as were drug arrests, which increased 23 percent in 2014, from 62 to 76. DUI arrests were flat at 18 as were weapon arrests at 23.

Calls for service jumped 8 percent for the weekend, from 1,185 in 2013 to 1,285 in 2014. Peak calls for service came on Saturday when 358 were recorded. During the same weekend in 2013, according to the OCPD, the peak service call day recorded 331 calls.
For its part, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office released numerous crime reports from the weekend but none were of a serious nature and zero felony arrests were reported.

It was by all accounts a typical June weekend in Ocean City with some rowdiness but nothing unusual. Nonetheless, despite that fact, Ocean City is taking advanced preparations ahead of next weekend and has been so for months.

Waters confirmed Friday the city has been meeting with the event organizer and reported communication started over the winter.

“We have had an open line of communication with the College Beach Week organizers since the event last year. We met in March and discussed their ideas and our expectations. The event organizers have been courteous and professional and have expressed their goals to have a successful and safe event in Ocean City,” Waters said. “Because the month of June historically brings our younger visitors, both college aged and recent high school graduations, we [the town] will certainly prepare accordingly. Like many of our other events in Ocean City, both formal and informal, we are planning and preparing for this event and any incident that may arise. We’re optimistic that the majority of people that are planning to come to Ocean City throughout the month of June are here to enjoy the beach and everything our town has to offer. Those that come with other intentions will be met with no tolerance and strict enforcement.”

A text to the event promoter’s phone loop received a return message of, “It’s officially back!!!! Beach Week in Ocean City. Come Enjoy The Weekend June 5th-7th. Visit partyheadzdc.com For More Details On Beach Week…” However, there is little to be found on the website with event details as far as organized activities.

Waters said the city’s official position is to approach next weekend like it would any other during the month of June when thousands of high school graduates come to Ocean City to celebrate their accomplishments for a week or shorter stays. These graduates mix with the larger arrival of college students coming to Ocean City to celebrate as well and to begin their summer employment. The early part of the month is typically reserved for the younger lot as a majority of vacationing families traditionally hold off their visits till school-aged children are out of school for longer stays.

Waters said the city is well aware of what June brings to the shore and a “June behavior action plan has been a priority on the town’s Strategic Plan and something the police department has been planning and preparing for throughout the off-season. I know they have a very comprehensive plan ready …” She added it’s important for the public to know the majority of people who come to Ocean City do not intend to cause trouble and are simply here to enjoy the beach, Boardwalk and other amenities.

“June is a busy month, and brings a lot of young visitors to our resort community,” Waters said. “We are definitely preparing for the weekend like many other June weekends. We expect to be extremely busy but we [public safety officials specifically] are prepared for the intended influx. We want all of our residents and visitors to know that their safety, as always, is our top priority. During the month of June, or anytime rather, we welcome all of our visitors with the expectation that they will be safe, respectful and abide by our laws and ordinances.”

Ocean City Police Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay Richard said the OCPD is expecting a similar turnout for the “College Beach Week” next weekend as last year.

“At this time, we are expecting a very similar turnout to what we saw in 2014. Citizens should expect a busy June weekend as there are numerous other large events set for that weekend,” she said. “Town officials have had an open line of communication with the College Beach Week organizers since the event last year and our Intel Unit has been closely monitoring the event since early this winter. We are preparing for this event the same way we prepare for many other events that impact our manpower and utilize our resources and we are working with our allied agencies again this year. We have a very comprehensive strategic plan ready that includes an increased officer presence and high visibility similar to what citizens saw in 2014.”

 

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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If this week’s discussion about the budget in Ocean City is any indication, it doesn’t appear relations are improving between the city and Worcester County.

Former Ocean City Councilman Vince Gisriel and fellow detractors seemed to strike a nerve among Ocean City officials when questioning the budget at Monday’s meeting. Gisriel clearly annoyed a few council members with his comments about the need to be “frugal” in light of the large tax increase the county is going to approve for the next fiscal year.

“The responsible thing to do knowing that the county is going to raise the rate at some amount, I predict somewhere in the range of 7.10 [cents], which is bad enough but given that factor the local government should hold the line,” Gisriel said. “… Any way you can get it down to at least the level of last year or below because I think we are going to have a significant increase in the county.”

With it clear Ocean City is likely getting nothing from the plan it submitted to address the long-term issue of tax differential, Meehan seemed frustrated by the insinuation Ocean City needs to make budget decisions based on what the county will be doing.

“If you work for 12 years in Worcester County and retire, you get health benefits for life, for you and your spouse. Tell me another state, city or municipality that does that and that has been funded by Ocean City. They have had very few reductions in work force unlike the Town of Ocean City did, and it is catching up with them. It is unfortunate that we should pay for that mistake,” he said. “… If we cut it to a lower level that is being suggested, then it is the level of service that we will be cutting, and then we will have a lot more people in this room talking about the budget.”

Councilman Dennis Dare also weighed in, bringing up the tax differential issue.

“… we are still collecting as much money as we did last year overall, so if you really want a tax break then go to Snow Hill [Worcester County] and talk to them about a tax differential instead of knit picking the little stuff that we are talking about here,” Dare said.

City officials feel they have done a good job of not sacrificing services and keeping a responsible tax burden while reminding Ocean City property owners they need to be worried about what the Worcester County Commissioners will be doing more so than what’s happening in Ocean City. There’s no question Dare and Meehan believed the city was the subject of misplaced anxiety and the real questioning should be directed at the officials in Snow Hill. They have a point.

 

I give the Worcester County Department of Liquor Control two more years before it’s dissolved. It should probably be sooner but legislation must be approved by the Maryland General Assembly establishing a new type of license.

I see the timeline like this. The earliest legislation can be passed, assuming it’s introduced by Senator Jim Mathias and approved as a “local courtesy bill,” would be next April of 2016 and then an October 2016 likely signature of approval from the governor. With that being just three months into the government’s fiscal year that starts July 1, 2016, we find it unlikely the county government would be able to divest itself of the department without financial hardships and other complications. Consequently, it my guess it will be July 2017 when the commissioners make the move to shutter the operation.

The long and short of it the county wants out, but it’s not going to be easy and it will take some time.

 

The loss of a child is arguably the greatest heartache the human psyche is forced to endure, and it seems to happen all too often.

When I first heard of Dawson Twining’s passing Sunday morning from a co-worker, there was shock, of course, but my immediate attention turned to his parents, Janet and David, long-time friends. I was trying to imagine their shock and horror and from that point on they have been in my thoughts multiple times a day.

While I do not diminish the loss felt by other family members and close friends, the parents are the ones who endure the greatest pain and loss. It’s a nightmare that you never wake up from and the Twinings have weighed on many hearts this week.

They are blessed to have tremendous community support, another reason why living here is so special. That was evident when I visited their home this week, but they will need more of it in the future. One parent I spoke with this week lost a child unexpectedly six years ago in a car accident. He said the sorrow is always there, but time does eventually do its magic, as life provides inevitable distractions. “At some point, you come to accept the new reality and the new normal, but it’s a long and slow process. It never really gets easier. It just changes,” he said.

 

Services Announced For Well-Known Fenwick Restaurateurs’ Son

Dawson Twining

(The following is the full obituary.)

FENWICK ISLAND — Dawson Reeves Twining, 27, of Bishopville, died unexpectedly on Sunday, May 3.
Born March 7, 1988, he was the youngest son of David and Janet Twining, owners of Nantuckets Restaurant on Route 1 and the Lobster Shanty on Route 54.
Twining was a 2006 graduate of Stephen Decatur High School where he played varsity football and varsity golf. After high school, he attended Towson University.
Dawson’s enthusiasm for life, wonderful smile, infectious personality and charismatic way were well known to all who came in contact with him and will never be forgotten. He was always known to light up any room he entered.
Whether it was working at his parents’ restaurants, attending a social function or playing on the golf course, he was always upbeat and had an unmistakable zeal for life.
Known simply as “Daws” to his close friends and family, he was an affable young man who was fortunate to have a large number of great friends in his life. He was a charming individual who touched the lives of many during his short time. He was the original “kid” on Comcast’s Kidzone program and was the original “Monkey Man.”
A message on the Lobster Shanty’s marquee this week read, “Fly On Dawson, You Will Always Be A Part Of The Magic. We Love You.”
Along with his parents, he is survived by his brother, Delaney and his wife, Laura; his two dogs, Zelda and Stella; a large and extended family; and many cherished friends.
While shocked and distraught over Dawson’s passing, the family wishes to thank all those in the community who have reached out with heartfelt messages over the last week. They have been much appreciated.
A funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at the Bethany chapel of Melson Funeral Services, 38040 Muddy Neck Road, Ocean View, Del. 19970, where friends may call from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Interment will be private. After the services, there will be a celebration of his life at Twining’s Lobster Shanty.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, c/o Wayne Littleton, 13 66th Street, Ocean City, Md. 21842 or online at www.believeintomorrow.org/giving/

Patience A Virtue With Dissolving Liquor Dept.

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It’s not a question of if Worcester County will shutter its liquor retail and wholesale operation. It’s more about how to do it in a smart financial way and when.

How exactly it will get out of the liquor business is under consideration, but clearly the County Commissioners are committed to end the operation. That much we know from a draft of the Worcester County Commissioners’ Strategic Plan, which it meant to serve as a guide for the present elected officials’ terms in office.

A memo included in the media’s packet at the County Commissioners meeting touched upon the liquor issue and how the sunset clause that opened the marketplace for bars and restaurants has “proved challenging to the continued profitability of DLC operations.”

The memo’s language read, “… the County Commissioners have directed staff to develop an Exit Strategy that could be instituted at some point in the future to guide the orderly withdraw from wholesale and/or retail sales of alcoholoic beverages in Worcester County. The Exit Strategy shall consider actions necessary to eventually wind down DLC operations with the least possible impact on DLC staff, the least cost implications to Worcester County and liquidation of current DLC holdings and in a way that will ensure continued fair pricing of alcoholic beverages to Worcester County licensees and retail consumers.”

In a ranking of top five priorities, the exit strategy is tied for second, demonstrating its importance among the current group. The problem is it’s probably going to cost the county a lot of money to shut down the operation, particularly if it’s done abruptly and without a plan that takes into account all the intricacies of employee compensation, retail store leases, insurance policies and inventory liquidation.

The county is right to be deliberate with this process and it must be frugal and let financial issues drive the decision making process. We have advocated for the end of government-run liquor sales for decades, but we don’t want to see it done in a fashion that hurts the county’s taxpayers. That benefits nobody.

While acknowledging the major impact the open market has had on operations, DLC Executive Director Bob Cowger proudly states county tax dollars are not used to fund the department. Instead, revenue from sales funds operations. That reiterates the need to not hurt the county’s budget by dissolving the department.

It might take a couple years for the county to completely divest itself of the liquor department. If that’s the case, patience will be a virtue so long as it’s there are no unrealistic hopes that profits will one day rebound. That will not happen.

 

Things I Like

Live music on Berlin’s Main Street

 

Looking at photos of a trip a few weeks after getting home

 

Running the Boardwalk in the early morning hours

 

Actor Kevin James

 

Playing soccer against my boys

 

People who are too busy living to waste time hating

 

Hearing old stories about the area

 

Learning something

 

Watching a house being built that’s not mine

 

Smell of an baseball glove

 

An afternoon movie on a rainy day

Boardwalkin’ For Pets, Other Events Planned For Shelter; Adolfo’s Hosting Dinner Fundraiser

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OCEAN CITY — Ocean City is going to the dogs April 24-26 for a weekend of fundraising for the Worcester County Humane Society, including the 16th Annual Boardwalkin’ for Pets event on Saturday, April 25.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, April 24 at Adolfo’s on the ocean from 5-9 p.m. Advance tickets are being sold online at www.worcestercountyhumanesociety.org/boardwalkin-for-pets or at Adolfo’s for $15 and includes spaghetti and meatballs, side salad, fresh baked rolls, dessert and nonalcoholic beverage. Tickets will also be available at the door for $20. Adolfo’s will donate a percentage from every ticket purchased to the Worcester County Humane Society. There will also be some fantastic items available for a silent auction.

On Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m.-noon, grab your best friend and head to the Inlet for the 16th Annual Boardwalkin’ for Pets. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with the walk starting at 9 a.m. Raise money for the walk and receive prizes. This is the perfect opportunity to create a team. After the long winter, what better way to gather some family, friends, classmates, coworkers or neighbors and raise money, walk and have fun. There is a $25 minimum for individuals and for teams a $25 per team per member minimum. Prizes will be awarded to the highest pledge earners, top individual and team. Enter contests and win prizes for largest dog, smallest dog, best dressed dog and best dog trick. There will be refreshments provided by Harrison’s Harbor Watch Restaurant and Layton’s Family Restaurant on 16th Street.

For the out of town walkers, special rates are available at the following dog friendly hotels — La Quinta Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn & Suites and the Clarion. Mention Boardwalkin’ for Pets to receive the special rates.

If you don’t have a dog, “adopt” a shelter dog for the event. Arrangements must be made in advance by calling the shelter at 410-213-0146.

Additionally, organizers don’t want to forget about the feline friends. Bring a photo of your cat to the walk with your contact information written on the back. A special prize basket will be awarded to the “cutest cat.” Photos will not be returned.

“This year’s event promises to be like no other,” said Boardwalkin’ for Pets Chair Heather Bahrami. “We are excited for many new additions to the schedule of events including red carpet photos for the dogs as well as training tips from K9 Heeling.”

After the walk on Saturday, head over to South Moon Under on 81st Street and Malibu’s Surf Shop on 8th Street and the Boardwalk for some shopping. Both shops will be donating a percentage of sales for the day to the Worcester County Humane Society.

No trip to the beach is complete without some water fun. On Sunday, April 26, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. head down to Coastal Kayak in Fenwick Island for “Paddle with your Pooch.” For a donation of your choice, take a kayak out with your pooch and enjoy a scenic paddle on the bay. All are welcome with or without a dog. Life jackets for the dogs will also be available at Coastal Kayak. All proceeds go to the Worcester County Humane Society.

The Worcester County Humane Society, located on 12330 Eagles Nest Road off Route 611, is a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter and operates mainly on donations. Boardwalkin’ for Pets is the shelter’s largest fundraiser held every year. All money raised is used to care for the many dogs and cats that call the shelter home. In addition to providing everyday care, the animals also receive veterinary care which can be quite expensive. Last year walkers raised $25,000 for the shelter. This year the goal is $50,000.

 

Busy Cruisin’ Weekend Launches Summer Season With Huge Crowds, Major Traffic Backups; City Officials, Promoter To Review Event

South Ocean City is pictured Saturday morning as Cruisin’ participants line up to enter the Inlet parking lot, one of the official event headquarters. Photo by Rally Rides/Howard Whaley

OCEAN CITY — A lively debate ensued among the business and residential sectors this week over the Cruisin’ event with critics maintaining it needs major changes and supporters welcoming it as one of the busiest times of the year.

Throughout the course of the weekend and early part of the week, Ocean City residents vented on social media their frustrations over massive traffic backups, infrastructure damage to roads caused by the thousands of classic cars in town spinning out and the massive amounts of litter left behind by irresponsible visitors. In fact, one long-time Ocean City resident described the event in a letter to the editor as “broken” and in need of massive changes before the town hosts it again.

“Why are these people allowed to flaunt our laws? We have an ordinance for noise (broken), an ordinance against public drinking (broken), an ordinance against speeding and reckless driving (broken), and an ordinance against illegal trailer parking (broken). I wouldn’t want to be the one to explain our hypocrisy to visitors charged with those same violations later on this summer,” wrote resident Gabriel Mancini. “The business of Ocean City, that is to say, our image, our “brand”, is suffering from this ill-planned, poorly executed event. How many people didn’t come down because of the Cruisers? How many people will never be back? This weekend was an embarrassment to the Town of Ocean City.”

Mancini challenged the council to conduct a thorough review of the event, which he does not want to see end.

“Stand up for the people who live here. No group event should impact the town at the expense of the people who call it home,” Mancini said. “If the cruisers want to come to Ocean City and obey our laws, we should welcome them … in March or April.”

One of the event’s producers, Bob Rothermel, a former tourism and special events director for the town, took exception to the negatives being hurled by community members at the Cruisin’ event, which had 3,300 registered vehicles this year.

“The event is not broken I can tell you that. It’s a fine event. I think the biggest problem that we have is it’s the biggest event at the start of the season. The town wakes up almost like being shot out of a cannon. I would venture to say like any event or any group of people 95 to 99 percent of the people are not the problem. There is a small majority who gives us some trouble. It’s those who have nothing to do with the event that causes the problems and give the event a bad name,” Rothermel said.

In the event registered participants were discovered to be causing trouble, Rothermel said his team revoked their registration credentials. He said his group controls what it can, but acknowledged much of the responsibility falls to the Ocean City Police Department.

“We want the police to have a heavy hand. We don’t want the event to go south. Knuckleheads will create problems for the masses. If you look at the Inlet parking lot, these people are members of AARP walking with their grandchildren or they are families with young children. It’s the perfect event for Ocean City, except it has to be managed in a way that I don’t think we are capable of doing,” he said. “We can’t enforce the streets, but we do what we can to keep an eye on the participants. We can’t control those who are not part of the event and come down here to create havoc. That’s where the problem lies.”

Although detractors of the weekend made their displeasure known this week, on the flip side were multiple posts on the Facebook page of Cruisin’ and others indicated the police were too strict and ruined the weekend’s fun for participants.

Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters said the city will always rule on the site of caution when it comes to public safety.

“There are certainly some people on both sides of the fence in regards to how the event went. The emails I was getting was that our police department was overzealous with their enforcement. Our opinion as a town is safety and cleanliness is our number one priority, so our police department while some might feel are overzealous, their job is to make sure everyone is safe here in Ocean City,” she said. “Cruiser week can be a traffic event with a lot of cars on the roadway and their priority is to make sure everyone that is on the road is being safe and following all of the rules.”

Rothermel said he will be meeting with Mayor Rick Meehan and City Manager David Recor next week to review the event. He said this is not conducted every year, but in light of concerns expressed he wants to make sure the city and the special event are on the same proverbial page.

“Already, we have 1,000 cars signed up for next spring’s event. Ocean City is the perfect destination for the event,” Rothermel said. “What we want to do is create an economic impact and maintain our welcome by stimulating business everywhere. I want to make sure [at this meeting] that we are still welcome and doing everything we can to be a corporate citizen of the town. The summer season starts with Cruisin’ now, not Memorial Day. In many cases, I hear Cruisin’ weekend is better than Memorial Day weekend and even the 4th of July. It’s not all about profit, but it has become the economic engine that kicks off the summer season. We have to realize this is a resort. It’s not a retirement community. Business is going to have to happen for us to enjoy the community that we live in.”

Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) Executive Director Susan Jones views some of the perceived problems from the weekend as representative of the changes in society and culture.

“The offenders are the big old pickup trucks blowing black smoke everywhere. It’s almost like the VW takeover in September with the big truck groups … I think they were the big offenders,” Jones said. “I don’t think Cruisin’ itself is the problem. I think it’s the way social media is impacting tourism. Social media has impacted travelers’ vacations today. It’s today’s youth not being raised the way we were. It’s society changing and the visitor of today is much different than those of 25 years ago.”

G. Hale Harrison of the Harrison Group, a company that operates 10 hotels and 10 restaurants in Ocean City, echoed the sentiments from Rothermel and Jones that the concerns over Cruisin’ are rooted in the non-event participants. He said it would behoove town and police officials to focus on the other groups not affiliated with Cruisin’ because his perspective is they are causing a majority of the problems.
“There are other events that are falling on the same dates that are being confused by the public with Cruisin’. The big trucks and the mustangs come on that weekend and they are not part of Cruisin’. They are separate and I don’t think it’s essential to the business community. The hotels will be full just with Cruisin’. These other events have just sprung up in the last year or two and they do cause more problems,” Harrison said. “The city can make an impact without hurting businesses by looking into those events and the dates they come.”

According to Waters, the chief complaint that disturbs her is the aspect of how dirty the resort appeared at various times of the weekend from reckless visitors.

“I have talked to a lot of people who have come down for the event, and people who live here, and like I said from the local standpoint it’s that they are just disturbed people are coming here being so disrespectful by throwing trash everywhere. That is very upsetting for us,” she said. “We have an amazing Public Works Department who works really, really hard to make sure Ocean City looks spic and span. That is unacceptable, and we are certainly the first people to say that is unacceptable, and that is definitely going to be on our after action report as we head into next year to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again. No one wants to see Ocean City disrespected and have trash thrown anywhere in our town, especially when we all work so hard to keep it so clean. There is definitely going to be some discussion moving forward as to how we can prevent that type of thing from happening again.”

Jones understands a discussion may be held between Cruisin’ promoters and the city about moving the event to April, but she said that’s unlikely to happen for practical reasons.

“The only problem is it would have to be mid-April because it takes 10 days to set up the tents for Springfest. In addition, if it’s mid-April, you are not going to have enough hotel rooms open, and Cruisin’ fills the hotels rooms, absolutely,” Jones said.

Harrison, current president of the OCHMRA, cautioned the city and Cruisin’ about any discussion of changing the event dates in the future.

“May weekends, aside from Cruisin’ and Memorial Day, are not particularly strong from a business standpoint. Losing Cruisin’ would be disastrous to the business community. It’s as strong as Memorial Day weekend. Our season is short enough already and losing one of the prime weekends would be painful. Any event can be refined and improved and looking into how we can improve it for residents, participants and businesses is certainly a worthy effort,” Harrison said. “We are talking about killing a golden goose so we have to be really careful there.”

Waters could not confirm whether a date change request was being considered by the city at this point.
“Cruiser weekend has done a really good job in the past 24 years and has been a really successful event. A lot of people that come for the event are really here to show off their pride in their vehicles but unfortunately there are people that come who don’t necessarily have those intentions,” Waters said. “While they have been around for a long time, sometimes it might be time to make a change and what has worked in past years might not be working anymore. I would assume before next year’s event or before the fall event, there is going to be a conversation with the city manager and the Mayor and Council to determine how we are not going to run into those same problems, and how we are going to make changes to improve the quality of the event and the quality of Ocean City for our residents and our visitors.”