Letters From Our Readers

An Unaffiliated Voter


I read a recent letter that appeared in The Dispatch about changing voter registration. I, too, have recently changed my registration – twice. When I was young, I was registered Democrat. My father had always told me “to make your vote count in Maryland you must register Democrat.” Later on in life, I re-registered as a Republican. Either way, I have not missed voting in more than 60 years but I don’t think I have ever voted a party line.

I heard that in the recent Massachusetts election half of the voters were Independents. That surprised me and I decided to look into it. The Internet tells me that 28 states allow Independents to vote in primaries. In Maryland in the last election, the Republicans allowed Independents to vote in their primary but the Democrats did not. Google tells me a lot about unaffiliated voters.

I don’t claim to be very savvy politically but I watch both Fox and CNN. I think that the present Democrat government is doing a bad job but there are items in the Republican agenda with which I strongly disagree. So I re-registered as Independent. However, I have found that “Independent” is also a party, as is Green and Libertarian.

The Libertarians and Greens think that they are making a statement. The Democrats and Republicans do not worry about them. They only worry about the unaffiliated voter who may and will vote for the “other” party. So I had to re-register again as Unaffiliated. Re-registering is easy. I went to the office in Snow Hill and filled out the form. The people there were very nice. They told me that I did not even have to visit but simply send in my voter registration card with the back filled out to make the change.

I am more comfortable now talking with anyone about politics. My views are my own. I don’t “belong” to any party. Maybe some day if enough people become Unaffiliated, both parties in Maryland will not only allow but will encourage us to vote in their primaries. Maybe my father was right but I am not one of either herd.

Sam Mattingly

Ocean Pines

A Cat Commentary


I am writing in response to a letter written by Paul Toulotte on July 9 titled “Clarifying Cat Program” in which he describes the ideal TNR scenario.

Unfortunately, such programs rarely get carried out so smoothly and are not as effective and thorough as one is led to believe. I have read a variety of studies concerning feral cats and TNR and do not feel it is a practical method of population control. In order to have a significant effect on the feral cat population, 75-90% of all (not just those in colonies) of Ocean City’s cats would have to be captured and sterilized in a relatively short amount of time.

The proposed ordinance only requires “reasonable” efforts of colony caregivers to capture and care for all of their cats. It does not “require” rabies shots to be updated, as is required for pet owners. Feral cats are very difficult to recapture.

The proposed ordinance does not require caregivers to assure that other animals, like raccoons and rats, are not eating cat food put out for colony cats. Raccoons are a major rabies vector.

The proposed ordinance does not go far enough to protect property owners’ rights. While it allows Animal Control to remove nuisance animals, it is not clear on legal options for those who simply don’t want cats in their yards at all. It does not require caregivers to notify and obtain permission from all property owners in the vicinity of a colony before it is established.

Colony caregivers have little incentive under the proposed ordinance to officially report any unsterilized/unvaccinated colony cats until someone complains. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement to remove any adult cats that become tame over time.

A few more things to note: Mr. Toulotte mentioned the “vacuum effect” as a reason not to trap-and-remove cats. I’d like to explain what is really happening. People are putting out cat food. Cats, and other animals, are coming to eat that food. It has nothing to do with the natural ecosystem balance.

While cats have high reproductive rates, they are limited by the resources available to them. If no one puts out food and garbage is kept more secure, there would be fewer feral cats. That costs very little to implement.

Mr. Toulotte seemed to downplay cats’ hunting prowess. While each individual cat varies in its interest, many cats hunt whether they are fed or not. They are generalist predators and don’t care if a species is in decline, native, or exotic (like they are). We have bred them for thousands of years to do this. And, cats are often not humane killers.

It is debatable whether a life outdoors is really the humane solution to the feral cat problem. Outdoor cats generally do not live as long as indoor cats, thus, they are probably not peacefully dying of old age.

I do agree with most of the proposed ordinance’s section on pet owner responsibility – except that cats should follow the same leash laws as dogs (stay on owner’s property and /or be under control). Unaltered animals should not be allowed to roam free. Perhaps all cats and dogs that are sold/adopted/given-away in the county should be micro-chipped as well.

Finally, I would like to add that while I am opposed to TNR, I am not opposed to cats. I belong to three wonderful indoor kitties (all altered and vaccinated). Two were starving feral kittens and one was abandoned in a parking lot. While I do not live in OC, I have family who does.  We are dealing with similar issues where I live and, as an animal lover, I feel I have a valuable perspective on this issue.

Lora Loke

Watkinsville, Ga.

Voters Should Weigh

In On LCB Future


Once more, our election system is cranking up. Campaign signs on Routes 50 and 90. Newspapers ads and rallies next. From county commissioner to state delegate to state senator to governor, Ocean City will soon activate as well. Not to even mention federal offices. And in all this activity the voter remains supreme, for change, or no change.

It is fair to sense that the Worcester County Licensed Beverage Association (WCLBA), a private group, would prefer to avoid the voting booth in their zeal to see the demise of the LCB, a state agency. And remember that in 1998 Worcester County voters mandated that the LCB would remain the only supplier of beverages to our 200 bars, pubs, taverns, restaurants and retailers. This left the public with some minuscule control over these products. But, is it even possible elected officials are contemplating an end-run of us voters?

Some folks have proferred that private enterprise, minus public control, is the way to dispense these products. Whoa. Have they forgotten so soon the human casualties of the Wall St. Cabal and their synthetic instruments? The world even shuddered. If one has any doubt as to their perfidy why not peruse the legal sections of our local papers, and catch our own local foreclosures. Very, very "sobering," to coin a term. Contrition, anyone?

If we even accept how public-spirited private entities can be, please keep in mind the tab the town, county and state picks up, routinely, for all the DUIs issued over our cushy summer months. OC cops issue about 10 a week. The Berlin State Police Barracks an equal amount. After both the lights go out, and the cat, too, the public purse is stuck with this mess and its cost.

Is that you and me?

This registered voter will watch with awe as this face-off between the WCLBA and the LCB continues and how our politicians react to it. We know businesses do not vote,nor folks from other jurisdictions. And I trust our elected officials will never take an end-run to “diss” our voters, including me.

In any event, I consider this town and county to be one of Maryland’s top-flight operations. Let’s keep it that way.

Raymond M. Sawyer

Ocean City

Care Applauded


During the past three years, as I have dealt with the effect of multiple sclerosis resulting in diminishing eyesight and a fractured hip due to a fall, I have been both a patient at the Atlantic Rehabilitation Center and currently a resident of the Berlin Nursing Home.

Throughout my stay here, I have been shown many kindnesses, but I would like to express my sincere gratitude to two outstanding nursing aides in particular, Ms. Norma Dennis and Ms. Joanne Farrare. Both nurses have continually demonstrated extraordinary care given with utmost patience and gentleness. Had it not been for Ms. Dennis’ initiative to offer walking with me daily, I would not now be back in a physical therapy class and looking forward to soon walking without assistance.

I commend this institution for having such fine nursing on your staff and remain very thankful for their service.

Sara Ann Weismiller