Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Much was said this week on the current street performer law in Ocean City and some changes appear imminent, according to comments made by the task force charged with monitoring busker rules and regulations.

Everything that was said this week by task force members and by performers themselves during last month’s hearing will be irrelevant if a federal judge finds it unconstitutional. That ruling is likely months away, as City Solicitor Guy Ayres reported this week the city has not even been served yet in regard to the recent challenge being led by Tony Christ. The legal challenge is of particular note because the city contracted a law firm, specializing in constitutional law, to ensure whatever regulations are passed would not be found unconstitutional if challenged legally. It will be interesting to find out if the law firm protected the city and whether the money spent was worth it.

Despite that proverbial elephant in the room, task force members outlined some changes they envisioned for next summer. Taking top billing was the registration process that saw people sleeping outside City Hall last summer to ensure a prime Boardwalk spot.

City officials have been intimating that changes to the registration process would be coming, as nobody wants to see people sleeping in front of City Hall on a routine basis during the summer months. The task force is suggesting to the Mayor and Council that a weekly registration process be implemented. The idea being sign-up day would be Monday mornings for all the designated spaces throughout the week. That way the performers would only be sleeping on the sidewalk in front of City Hall once a week.

“We need to have the registration once a week,” said Task Force Chair Greg Shockley. “That simplifies the whole thing. They’re moving every week and that will alleviate some of the concerns of the store owners.”

It’s designed as a compromise measure to address what was the biggest complaint from the buskers. It seems like a logical approach, one that’s contingent on council approval and whether the whole sign-up concept is constitutional in the first place. I sure hope it is.

 

During last week’s Q&A with Worcester County Economic Development Director Merry Mears, she was asked about an issue I have seen as a major concern for years. It’s this north-south divide that seems to be polarizing the county on some level. It has played out several times among the Worcester County Commissioners in public with the lone representative living south of Newark — Merrill Lockfaw — often pointing out the south end of the county matters and needs to be considered when amenities, such as the proposed ice hockey arena or excursion train depot, are considered. It surfaces in education discussions as well whenever capital improvements projects are weighed.

Mears didn’t shy away from the question, but was also probably a little rosy with her assessment from a realistic standpoint. That’s understandable, as a part of her job is to focus on the positives.

“I wouldn’t classify our county as divided by any means. I think individually, our municipalities and our different areas geographically have their own strengths and they all play off each other to attract visitors, provide jobs for our citizens and improve our quality of life overall. Of course, Ocean City is a huge draw for people to come here.  Over eight million people ride through Route 50 and into Ocean City each year,” she said. “We still have the healthcare industry, manufacturing and other areas such as aerospace and agriculture that are thriving year-round. So, if we step back and look at it from a macro-sense, we can see all these different pockets of industry kind of complementing each other. And a rising tide like Ocean City lifts all boats.”

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was a pivotal figure in dismantling the previous liquor monopoly in Worcester County. It was his office’s investigators that launched an investigation into alleged malfeasance and illegal purchases. Along with his investigation, Franchot was adamant about removing government from what should be a private sector-only industry. In Worcester, the former Liquor Control Board has been dissolved … Continue reading

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

There has been one obvious question looming ever since the new street performer ordinance was enacted in Ocean City. Is it constitutional? It looks like that question will be answered soon enough now that an official challenge has been filed before U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Hollander, who has twice before struck down Ocean City’s street performer ordinances for being … Continue reading

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

When he was first elected to the Ocean City Mayor and Council in 2002, Joe Mitrecic was known for keeping his proverbial cards close to his chest. He was quiet and rarely spoke at the meetings. Over time, that changed, particularly when he ascended to the leadership position of council president. Now a first-year County Commissioner, representing Ocean City, Mitrecic … Continue reading

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Education is a critical issue and in the coming months, as attention turns slightly away from tourism, we plan to put a larger focus on the issues within local schools. This week’s interview with Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson was one example. One of the more fascinating aspects of this week’s interview to me was Wilson’s reporting … Continue reading

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

The lone event on the special event calendar that could have survived last weekend’s nasty Nor’easter with solid turnout was probably H2O International. It’s important to note a huge majority of the vehicles in town last weekend were not affiliated with the H2Oi event, which is actually headquartered at Fort Whaley Campground on Route 50. However, all of these unique … Continue reading

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Assateague Island is one of my favorite places, and it was interesting this week to watch a 15-minute You Tube video titled “Saving Assateague” prepared by the Assateague Island National Seashore on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the legislation that protected it from development forever. I recommend watching it on the seashore’s You Tube channel. … Continue reading

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

One of the highlights of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Banquet was Al “Hondo” Handy’s acceptance speech. Earlier in the day, thanks to an interview by News Editor Bryan Russo, I learned something I never knew about Hondo, who also addressed the subject on Tuesday night at the banquet. Hondo was among the first black students … Continue reading