Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
Emotions ran high once again this week after Councilmen Brent Ashley and Joe Hall motioned for the City Council to vote to officially oppose this fall’s referendum on whether general employees can form a union.
The motion was awkward and poorly timed and even their majority colleagues could not agree with Ashley and Joe Hall this week. Council President Jim Hall repeatedly tried to get Joe Hall to withdraw his motion. Jim Hall even questioned why Joe Hall cooked up the motion without even talking to the rest of the council.
Ashley and Joe Hall were resolute, refusing to remove the motion and asking the council to formally announce its opposition to the general employees’ union referendum two months prior to the vote. This was ridiculous to surface at this juncture, particularly given previous votes on the matter.
When the required petition signatures were verified, this same council voted unanimously to allow the referendum question to proceed to the ballot. It was also this same council that decided to not make a decision on the employees’ wishes to unionize earlier this year. Instead, the council decided uniformly to let the voters decide, meaning the employees would have to launch a petition drive and get the voters’ support in the form of signatures.
At that time, the council could have simply said no to the effort, dismissed it outright and that would have been that. The council could have also said yes, as a former group of elected officials did with the paramedics, and granted the general employees collective bargaining without going the petition route.
The council decided unanimously the voters should decide whether to allow further unionizing. It’s contradictory and disturbing now that Ashley and Joe Hall decided this week to ask for a formal opposition to the referendum. The opportunity for that direction has come and passed, and it was essentially voided when the council moved to okay the referendum and previously when it ruled the petition route was best for this weighty matter.
As a government body, the council cannot and should not now express an opinion at this point. The time to address that was back before the council directed the employees to beat the streets and gather signatures and adhere to the elections law regarding petitions to referendum. Weighing in now taints the process.
I think the council did the right thing back then, and the voters should decide. That’s what the council wanted in the beginning and it’s unfair to try and sway public opinion at this point.
However, I do believe there’s nothing wrong with the individual council members expressing their beliefs on matter, as Ashley has done in recent weeks with paid advertisements. All the candidates seeking office will be asked by this newspaper to express their opinions on the matter. In fact, they will be asked how they will vote in the referendum.
That’s fair game, but I think Ashley and Joe Hall were mistaken when they said the council should weigh in as a body on the issue. Individually is the right way to go, particularly since the council sidelined itself when the petition route was advised.
Some form of skateboarding should be legal in Ocean City, but it has nothing to do with the Dew Tour. That’s an argument that should really be tossed aside.
The online “Legalize Skateboarding” campaign is a wise one with the right objectives, and I think the council will loosen the town’s in-season skateboarding laws to a degree. Skateboards are a common form of transportation for many and, if used as such, there should be no laws against it.