Excuse me for a moment while I wipe the proverbial pie off my face. Last week while crediting the Ocean City Mayor and Council for making the obvious decision to freeze all employee salaries, I commented I hoped the county would “see it the same way.” It turns out the county back in November issued a memorandum warning all departments to expect no raises for employees this year. It was included in the memo that ordered all department spending be reduced by 3 percent as well as the documented hiring freeze. County Commission President Louise Gulyas called me this week and told me I “should read my own paper,” referring to an article on Nov. 21 when staff writer Cara Dahl reported all “county and school salaries will remain static with no cost of living adjustment, step increases or any other raise.” County Commissioner Virgil Shockley also called to “set me straight.” You can imagine how much I love getting these calls, but it’s a price you pay when you take a misstep. It was a gaff on my part, and Gulyas and Shockley seemed to enjoy letting me know it.
Speaking of freezing pay, the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Career Fire Fighter Paramedic Union did the right thing this week. They agreed to not seek any increase in pay or compensation during upcoming negotiations for the next fiscal year. These groups are to be commended, and it’s important to point out they really had no other choice. In the FOP’s circumstance, any move other than this would have flown in the face of the assurances members made during their long quest for collective bargaining. They said they would be fair and responsible when dealing with the city on pay issues. In this particular instance, they lived up to that pledge.
Another proposal for commercial service from the Ocean City Municipal Airport is reportedly doomed. In November, Gabriel Saveedra, of Florida-based Deluge Air, said he wanted to start running 40-minute direct flights from Ocean City to White Plains, N.Y. using two, planes, twice a day, and four days a week at approximately $100 each way. The council seemed open to the proposal, but held off serious discussions until more information was presented. Those details never came forward, leading many to be pessimistic about the proposed venture. Ocean City Airport Manager George Goodrow said Saveedra changed his mind and was instead pursuing operations at the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Airport. In response to my questions about how Saveedra let the town know, Goodrow wrote in an email, “It was simply an e-mail message from him stating … he had decided to take his operation and run it out of the FBO (fixed based operator) at Salisbury because it was ‘easier’”.
College students, and others who wish they still were, rejoiced across Maryland this week after a state legislator threw in the towel on his effort to make beer pong, and other similar drinking games like “cups” and card games, illegal in bars. For those who don’t know, and I know there are many of you who do, beer pong is played on a large table with teams taking turns lobbing a Ping-Pong ball into a series of glasses filled with either beer or another liquid. In most cases, when a team makes a shot into a cup, the opposing team drinks. There are many different ways to play, and leagues have been formed in parts of Maryland, but the point here is a legislator wanted to prohibit “a holder of a retail alcoholic beverages license or owner or operator of a bottle club from allowing drinking games or contests on the premises,” according to the proposed bill. A massive online email and blog effort, spearheaded by Md. Beer Pong, the state’s so-called largest league, encouraged the legislator to withdraw his bill, saying it was monopolizing too much of his time and that there were more important things to address in the legislature at this time. Locally, the bill would have little impact because we know of only a few establishments that offer these types of games and usually only as part of a special night’s festivities.