Coverage of last night’s meeting in Berlin about the ongoing electric rate situation occurred too late to be included in this edition, but it’s great to see residents getting involved in this important matter. Volunteers were spotted all over town last weekend affixing yellow meeting notice signs to telephone poles and in other high-profile spots in advance of last night’s gathering. There’s no question residents are outraged over the sticker shock they have been receiving the last couple months with their electric bills. This needs to be an election issue because no other single topic is affecting the citizens and businesses to this degree. It’s crippling them financially, leaving many unable to pay off the entire balance. Over the last couple weeks, I have engaged in numerous conversations over the electric situation and a couple things have gotten under my skin. One, some folks are saying the rates are exorbitant because the town was unable to sell its power plant. Nothing could be further from the truth, and shame on any town official who is spreading that false claim. Secondly, my electric bill this month was around $560. I understand my house was built in 1908 and is not a picture of energy efficiency. I realize my electric bill will reflect that. However, over $500 does cause some indigestion. Add to this friends of mine with the same-sized house, built around the same time, had a similar bill, but the major difference between our homes is his does not have air conditioning and I have two units. Additionally, he was out of town for a week with no electric being used besides the required appliances. Something is wrong here and I don’t need a consultant to confirm it. There’s no rhyme or reason to the amounts on these bills. The prevailing feeling around town is no good will result from this high-paid consultant’s study of the situation, but I am keeping an open mind (and wallet) for the time being.
The announcement that a lane on the eastbound portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge will be closed is going to impact Ocean City this weekend and beyond. There’s no other way to look at this 10-week closure. It’s been said successful Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are weather-dependent, largely because school is in session for most jurisdictions in the mid-Atlantic states. That means most potential visitors do not decide whether they will be coming to the beach until they get a good look at the weather forecast, and, as most of us know, there’s no reason to look at the weekend forecast until a couple days before because it’s just a guess anytime before that. Unfortunately, news of this lane closure, which state officials acknowledge will back up traffic, broke Tuesday afternoon and was front-page news on Wednesday, just when weather forecasts start to become somewhat scientific rather than a guessing game. There’s no question this will deter some on-the-fence visitors. Some have suggested privately the bridgework should be delayed till after the holiday, but safety comes first and the integrity of the structure needs to be paramount, officials say. If you buy that argument, then the timing is just bad luck.
How does someone get fondled by a guy dressed as a cartoon television character on the Boardwalk and not report it? It’s a question that has to be asked this week because apparently that’s exactly what happened on multiple occasions this summer. Last week a story ran about a 16-year-old girl reportedly having her buttocks fondled by a street performer dressed as the affable Patrick Star Fish from Sponge Bob Square Pants. The inappropriate touching took place while the girl posed with the man for a photo. He was subsequently charged with sexual assault. After the story of this incident ran last week, more victims have allegedly come forward to report similar instances and police want to know if any other visitors experienced the same. This is just a bizarre situation for a number of reasons, but I am curious why these incidents were not reported when they happened and even more interested in knowing why anyone would pay to have their picture taken with a man in a lousy Halloween costume.