The local version of “No Slots In Maryland” campaign was stepped up a notch this week to time with the Maryland Association of Counties convention. On Monday, the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association issued a press release reiterating its stance on the issue with businessmen Buddy Jenkins of Jolly Roger fame and Dr. Lenny Berger, known best for his landmark Clarion Hotel, weighing in on the issue (see page 26B for more on that). On Tuesday, the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce urged businesses to place the anti-slots message on their marquees to let legislators know how Ocean City feels about the one-arm bandits. About a dozen businesses reportedly did just that this week. Additionally, a petition of sorts with a strong message was launched with a five-paragraph statement, which largely encouraged lawmakers to “give this matter your utmost consideration and protection that is needed for that which you have worked so diligently to create through the years in making Ocean City the best family resort on the East Coast.” The statement also says, “The implantation of slot legislation in the State of Maryland would result in an immediate transfer of the disposable income and produce negative effects across the whole economic spectrum, as well as the rise in negative social values that would surely follow.”
State Comptroller Peter Franchot has a reputation for speaking candidly, a trait that has brought some controversy his way since he was elected last year. Franchot issued a 26-point statement Wednesday criticizing a slots report by Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Thomas Perez. Franchot acknowledged a respectful relationship with Perez, but he blasted Perez for producing a disappointing report. “For years, we’ve heard how slots will solve our structural budget deficit. Well, this report confirms that revenues from slots would be a mere drop in the bucket in terms of what is needed to do address our financial situation,” Franchot said. “Once again, slots are taking top billing to an honest discussion about solving the deficit. In fact, they are impeding our ability to deal with the sea of red ink we face. We are no closer to finding a solution to our structural deficit than we were before, and time continues to run out.” Those are solid comments.
Although it remains to be seen whether City Hall will inevitably allow it to be constructed on the beach, the Kroart family’s Boathenge proposal continues to get exposure. The project has gotten some coverage on RoadsideAmerica.com, an “online guide to offbeat tourist attractions,” and yet another mention in the Travel section of (ITALICS)The Sun on Sunday. Word is all the Mayor and Council members would be receiving copies of the articles in the mail this week. Although he acknowledged the proposal is in “dry dock” currently awaiting word from the Army Corps of Engineers about safety and logistical concerns, the Kroarts said this week they are optimistic about the project, which could see as many 30 boats buried in the sand off the Boardwalk.
The Ocean City Mayor and Council announced this week the Monday night meetings would now be starting at 6 p.m., rather than the typical 7:30. The meeting time has always been questioned by City Hall insiders because it means city staff has to stick around an extra couple hours on the work day and late nights for elected officials and others who attend. It’s been a running joke over the years at City Hall that Monday night meeting agenda lengths coincide with the quality of the Monday Night Football game of the week. It’s long been observed how short Monday meetings are when there’s a pivotal NFL game on the tube. Some say it’s a coincidence, Some would say the timing of the meeting change coming only weeks before the start of the NFL regular season is also a coincidence. Some would not.