Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Ocean City cabbies will now be subject to random drug tests, according to a new regulation governing the industry. This section of the town ordinance raised a few eyebrows and shocked some drivers and cab owners this week.

It reads in part a protocol will be established, “requiring taxicab driver permit holders to be randomly tested for the use of controlled dangerous substances.” The ordinance continues, “When a permit holder is selected for testing, the taxicab medallion owner which the selected individual is employed by or contracting with shall be notified to have the taxicab driver permit holder report within four (4) hours of such notification during normal business hours and submit to a drug screening test at an approved facility as designed by the Town of Ocean City. … Failure to submit to the drug screening test or the withholding of authorization to release the results of such test shall be interpreted as a positive reading and result in the immediate suspension of individual’s taxi driver permit.”

It’s going to be interesting to observe how this goes over in the industry, how often the town actually calls folks in to be screened and whether the mere threat of a drug test will lead some to another line of work. While the contempt from the drivers is understandable because it was thrown in late in the game, taxi patrons certainly should expect the folks behind the wheel to be sober and free of drugs to ensure their own safety. Apparently, the city has reason to believe that’s not always the case. Let’s see if that’s right.

Alcohol and guns don’t mix. It’s that simple and it doesn’t matter if it’s a cop or not.

At issue here is an Ocean City police rule that says cops can carry a gun while off duty so long as their blood-alcohol concentration is below .04. Members of the City Council seem divided over the issue, and Councilman Doug Cymek has been the most vocal opponent, believing an off-duty cop should never handle a gun with any alcohol in his system.

It seems to me a lot of the current debate in Ocean City deals largely with hypothetical scenarios that may or may not unfold. Nonetheless, it’s enough of an issue for police to want it included in the guidelines governing its department. Therefore, it deserves the council’s attention. I think Cymek’s zero-tolerance approach here is on point. If an off-duty cop spots something awry, such as a vehicle theft, after splitting a bottle of wine with his or her spouse at dinner, he or she should call it in and stay out of it, rather than potentially using lethal force.

This is not complicated. Booze and guns do not go well together. Alcohol has different effects on certain individuals and setting a threshold, whether it’s one drink an hour or two, is dangerous. If a licensed cop wants to carry a gun while not on the job, that’s his or her right, but it seems to me most would agree it should not occur when any type of alcohol is involved.

If you look at estimated crowd figures, Presidents Day weekend was nothing special. However, all things considered, particularly two blizzards within five days that surely kept some folks from coming to the resort area as planned, it could have been worse.

From an informal poll of some businesses, most says they were down from last year’s holiday weekend but they were pleasantly surprised with sales considering the absurd amount of snow preceding the weekend. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out last weekend was the first time in three weeks the area didn’t get pounded with snow on a Saturday. That would have made the holiday weekend a non-event for merchants. Here’s a look at the town’s demoflush figures for the weekend compared to the last decade:

2010: 96,102

2009: 84,017

2008: 90,622

2007: 89,234

2006: 91,621

2005: 88,901

2004: 99,057

2003: 84,850

2002: 98,612

2001: 101,942

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.