Between The Lines

A hip trend expected to soon sweep the country is
vaporized alcohol dispensers, also known as Alcohol Without Liquid (AWOL)
machines. Legislation has been submitted in Annapolis that would ban them in
Maryland. Some states, including Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Arizona and
Michigan, have already passed measures prohibiting them. There are lots of
concerns here, particularly those related to health issues and social abuse.
The device allows the user to inhale the alcohol by a fine mist, a combination
of alcohol and oxygen, rather than having to consume it as a liquid. It’s being
marketed as a way to get a buzz without the calories or carbohydrates or the
hangover. The health concern deals with the fact the alcohol will get to the
brain unusually fast through this method and other organs in the body will not
have an opportunity to digest it properly. The social ramifications are too
many to mention here, but underage abuse has to be the top concern with what
some opponents have called the “ultimate party toy.” Maryland would be wise to
follow the leads of other states here with this potentially dangerous craze
that could have serious ramifications and bring an all definition to binge

Senator Lowell Stoltzfus flexed his political muscle this week when he was
reportedly single handedly responsible for the demise of the hydraulic dredging
ban in the coastal bays watershed. The Senate’s rejection of the bill comes as
a mild surprise, despite the fact the same bill died in that chamber last
spring. Most insiders, even Stoltzfus for that matter, expected the bill,
sponsored by Delegate Jim Mathias and others, to sail through the Senate as it
did the House. Just last week Stolzfus reported his dismay over the pending
legislation’s chance of passing. Calling it “the biggest heartache of my
session this year,” Stoltzfus was clearly disappointed over the bill’s
predicted fate. He said, “I had worked out a compromise where we could have
found a balance, but it now appears that opportunity is lost.” Apparently, Stoltzfus
worked overtime and called in some favors, resulting in the bill’s demise.
Stoltzfus said he truly feels the bill’s passage would cripple commercial
fishermen’s livelihood and result in poverty for many families.

A lot has been said in recent weeks about the SexStyle
shop, and Ocean City made a move this week to enact a temporary moratorium on
any other such stores opening in the resort. It would seem to me the
storeowners had to be jumping for joy at this turn of events. Clearly, the
city’s intent to keep these shops from opening up throughout town, but what
they have done in the process is grant the business its own monopoly. While
there are other outlets for porn in the city, the store essentially now has the
exclusive selling rights on most of its merchandise.

Councilman Gee Williams got hot under the collar this week, and regulars at
Berlin Mayor and Council meetings reported never seen the two-term councilman
so agitated. Williams, a long-time town resident and former newspaperman, is a
congenial guy, but the questioning at this week’s meeting by a town resident
aggravated him to a major degree. During a line of questioning about the
ongoing electric system saga, it was revealed Williams was not a Berlin
electric system customer. That startled some, but Williams told me later he is
one of several properties (approximately two dozen) inside the municipal limits
of Berlin not served by the Berlin utility. His home is served by Delmarva
Power, while some others deal with Choptank. Williams said this week,
“Personally, I am working with the Mayor and Council to find a permanent
solution that will benefit Berlin Electric ratepayers with lower electric
bills, in both the immediate future and long term. I am committed to pursuing
any reasonable alternative that accomplishes this goal, knowing full well that
this effort will not benefit me. If our efforts are successful, then in the
future I will be paying higher electric bills than Berlin Electric customers,
not the other way around.” 

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About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.