Thoughts From the Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From the Publisher’s Desk

ongoing controversy surrounding the Liquor Control Board for Worcester County
(LCB) continues to raise questions about the monopoly’s operations. Perhaps
former Ocean City Councilman and Worcester County Planning Commission Ed Ellis
put it best last week. “This is all
one big bowl of spaghetti because everywhere you turn a new part of the story
leads you to a whole new place. This is why a government agency shouldn’t be

involved in private enterprise. It makes government look disingenuous,” said Ellis. He is relevant in

this saga because his company owns some area convenience stores that sell wine
and beer. Contrary to competitors in the area who did not get the opportunity,
at least one of his stores was offered a $1-a-bottle discount promotion by the

each new revelation about the LCB, it’s becoming more apparent there are, at a
minimum, some operational and management issues. Word this week the
Comptroller’s Office revoked its credit line, making it therefore a pre-pay
account, is further proof there are internal issues. For some reason, the LCB
was removed from that list hours after being put on it. Sources contend that’s
out of fear the area would go dry on the spirit front if the LCB could not get
any credit to buy. It’s believed to be the first time a dispensary or even a
wholesale operation has ever been on this dreaded list, which reportedly is
sent out far and wide each day to notify operators of who should not have
credit terms extended to them.

City took a much-needed look at its health insurance compensation package this
week, and some of the proposals on the table deserve serious consideration.
Among the numerous aspects put forward during the review was increasing the
burden on the employee for health insurance expenses from 10 to 15 percent.
Employees reportedly choose from three plans – single, plus one or family
coverage. Annual premium costs, prior to the current 10 percent contribution
from employees, are almost $6,000 annual for single; more than $15,000 for plus
one coverage; and $19,000 for full family. For a single employee, under the new
15 percent responsibility, approximately $17 per week will be withheld from
their paychecks for what is unquestionably the best health insurance coverage
available. That’s a bargain many private sector employees would cherish.

season kicked into gear last week with the filing deadline coming and going.
What’s mostly happening now is candidates are out schmoozing and raising money.
Subsequently, I took a look this week at what a few candidates have in their
war chests as campaigning steps up. The race getting the most local attention
is for the lower shore’s State Senate seat. Top names vying for the seat are
Delegate Jim Mathias and Michael James, who narrowly lost his bid for delegate
in 2006. According to reports filed Jan. 20 (next report is due Aug. 17), it
appears Mathias and James are about even on the fundraising front. As of the
first report of the year, and surely more funds have been contributed since,
Mathias has a bank account value of $57,431, while James has the slight edge at
$60,517. For comparison’s sake, it was interesting to see that Delegate Norman
Conway, who is seeking re-election to the same post, has more in his war chest
than either Mathias or James. As of January’s report, Conway had a bank account
balance of $99,891.

other news, the monthly room tax and food tax numbers from the Worcester County
Treasurer’s Office were recently obtained, and they represent a mixed bag. For
the month of May, the latest available figures, room tax dipped 4 percent from
last year, $902,237 in May of 2009 to $869,273. However, year to date, through
May, room tax is up a slight 1 percent through the first five months of the
year compared to the same time period in 2009. Regarding food tax, once the
collection is doubled to mirror the same rate as the year before, collections
were up 2 percent in May, but year to date are down 8 percent from last year.

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.