What is usually routine in Ocean City was anything but this week. Typically, the council’s approval of the slate of candidates for election is routine, but not so this year with two public hearings planned to determine whether two candidates meet residency and domicile requirements.
There were actually four challenges initiated this week with two leading to public hearings. Yesterday was Philip Ufholz’s chance to defend his residency and answer questions on whether he is domiciled in the city. On Tuesday, Joe Hall will be given his chance to prove he has been living full-time in Ocean City since before July 4, despite working in North Carolina and spending more time there than in Ocean City. As City Solicitor Guy Ayres said this week, it’s important to remember there is a difference between residency and domicile, and that will likely determine how the council rules on Hall’s legitimacy as was the case during yesterday’s hearing on Ufholz.
The other two informal challenges were of candidates Matthew James and Christopher Rudolf. Both James and Rudolf were able to provide documentation that convinced the council they were full-time Ocean City residents for the required four months and therefore did not require a hearing to review their qualification.
Apparently, prior to this week, many members of the Mayor and Council were unaware the code only mandated four months of domicile in Ocean City to be eligible for a run at public office.
Ocean City Councilwoman Mary Knight took exception with the city code’s requirements on this specific matter.
“I would hope during these next few months we look at our code. I think four months of domicile is utterly ridiculous. It is not enough time to say that you are invested in this community. It should be a year minimum to me in my mind,” Knight said.
I agree with Knight. Four months is a season and that’s not long enough to be considered a legitimate candidate. A change needs to be made on that, and the good news is in 2016 the city’s election will be taken over by the State Board of Elections, which currently requires citizens for municipal elections to be a “resident and qualified voter of the district for which you seek office at least one year preceding the election.”
What will most likely happen is the city will alter its charter to mirror the state’s guidelines.
It’s been a couple weeks now since the H2Oi event and there continues to be heavy viral activity about it on the Internet. Most of the content is nonsense and inflammatory. It consists largely of irresponsible posts by immature individuals who seem to have no better things to do with their time than to use their cell phone photo programs to create disrespectful images of police officers simply doing their job over that crazy weekend.
However, one column from Will Barber on Oct. 8 deserves a mention. It was posted on vwvortex.com, which bills itself as “the Volkswagon enthusiast website.” The headline read, “62 Blocks of Chaos — Is This The End Of H20i As We Know It?”
Much has been written about the weekend and rightly so, but many media outlets, including this one, have been long on observations and criticism and short on suggestions on how to move forward with future events. In his piece, Barber throws out five suggestions, which I thought were well-reasoned.
“1. Use better judgment. Things can get out of hand quickly, and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. We certainly aren’t immune to that. But take a deep breath and think about what you are about to do. Follow laws. Obey police. Be courteous. Don’t heckle people from the hotel balcony with a bullhorn. Don’t set off fireworks. This goes for everyone, regardless of the logo on their car key.
2. Self-police. See someone disobeying suggestion number one? Don’t take their picture. Don’t record them. Let them know that you disapprove of their actions. Destroying a Cayman in broad daylight on a straight road should not make you Internet famous.
3. Leave it better than you left it.
My parents drilled this one into my head as a tyke, and again, it’s something very simple. Clean up after yourself. If you walk away from something and it’s in worse shape than when you arrived, you’re doing it wrong.
4. Patronize businesses where you have get togethers. Hanging out at Roses on 94th? Go inside and grab a drink. Taproom at 45th? Grab a beer, or a soda if you’re driving. Just something simple to say thanks for letting you use their parking lot without loitering. This seems to have somewhat caught on, and I’d like to see it continue.
5. Don’t get in the way of Police. Like it or not, they’ve got a job to do. Even the ones that look shockingly similar to a certain celebrity (seriously, it was uncanny). Each time you interfere with that job, they will understandably get more annoyed and will likely take out their frustrations with the ticket book. Let them do their thing, and OCPD will likely hand out a few more warnings instead of tickets.
If we are granted the privilege of H2O International again next year, let’s try to clean up our act a bit, regardless of what you drive down.”