Once again, the hypocrisy of the Ocean City Council has reared its ugly head.
As it has done in most of the past years, the council has passed an “emergency” measure banned street performers, in particular artist Mark Chase, from painting and selling his art at the end of North Division Street and the Boardwalk.
Because the council believed that Mr. Chase would sue them, they developed a canard of demonstrating the banning of street performers was based on safety issues, citing public safety concerns about the possible impact at one of the numerous access points to the Boardwalk and beach for emergency services.
The council was so concerned about the validity of its public safety foundation for the new ordinance that Council member Joe Hall publicly chastised Lisa Mitchell, Ocean City’s private events coordinator, when she referred to the ordinance as a “street performer ordinance” instead of a “public right of way ordinance”. Of course, the same safety concerns could apply to those stores on the east side of the Boardwalk, such as Thrashers, where the Boardwalk narrows and, and times, contains a mass of people that could greatly hinder the movement of fire personnel and vehicles in an emergency situation.
Most likely, this safety canard was developed during one of the council regular secret sessions under the “legal advice” exemption to the Maryland law that requires council action to be taken in a public meeting. Of course, since Mr. Chase has sued the council, the secret discussions will become public when Mr. Chase’s attorney deposes the council members and other Ocean City personnel involved with the secret meeting where the “safety” canard was developed.
The council was so concerned about banning artists like Mr. Chase for reasons of “safety” that it discussed for about 10 minutes whether the restricted Boardwalk area should be from the width of North Division Street or the width between the two buildings on either side of North Division Street. The council did not want Mr. Chase or others to set up in the space between the end of the street and the beginning of the building line.
In the same council meeting that passed its “emergency” ordinance banning artists like Mr. Chase and other performers, the council also approved a measure offered by one of its favored groups, the Art League of Ocean City, that would permit around 30 artists, according to Lisa Mitchell, to “pick a spot anywhere in Ocean City” during the height of the tourist session to paint scenes of Ocean City. The artists would then gather on July 17 to sell their artwork.
Now let me see if I got this right: the council has to pass an “emergency” ordinance that, in essence” limited a few street performers but allowed at least 30 artists to set up any place in Ocean City to paint. Talk about hypocrisy.
Phillips One Of A Kind
I operate a carpet cleaning company in Ocean City. Years ago, I got a call from the Phillips household to do some spot cleaning. It was after hours and we had sent our entire staff home and I would have to go myself and I didn’t want to go because I was very tired.
The “cleaner” was one of those old Eastern Shore ladies who was very gracious and warm, and I couldn’t say no. I could say I cleaned the owner’s house of the Phillips crab empire. My cleaner turned out to be Shirley Phillips herself and she and Brice made me and the helper I called in feel more welcome than I have ever felt going into any house in Ocean City.
We cleaned for them several times again and the crews would always come back and say they were the nicest people in Ocean City. I have noticed especially in OC that people of privilege tend to radiate a sense of condescension to lowly service people like myself. I find this particularly offensive since I came from a family of privilege, too.
Ocean City lost one of our revered citizens when Brice passed this week. He will be missed by many. I wish others would emulate their humility and class.