Voices From The Readers

Voices From The Readers

Dare Should Be Proud


I do not support the action taken by four members of the council to dismiss City Manager Dennis Dare. This was a vindictive move made without proper justification. To say we need a fresh face and new direction is an insult to the citizens of Ocean City. To end the career of a man that has served this city well without justification or compassion is a desperate act by followers, not leaders.

Mr. Dare has served Ocean City as city manager for 21 years. Over that period of time, he is responsible for the hiring of some of the best department heads you will find anywhere. All good managers surround themselves with good personnel and Dennis did that successfully.

In 2008, as we entered into a time of recession, Dennis got out front of the curve by proposing a hiring freeze and a freeze on employee salaries. Over the course of the next three years, he used the term “right sizing” as he proposed changes in how we operate to downsize our government to meet the test and challenges of the present time. As a result of his initiatives, we were able to hold our tax rate and continue to provide the services our citizens expected and deserved. During these difficult times, Ocean City has continued to prosper and hold our tax rate for our property owners. I challenge you to find other areas that can say the same.

As an engineer, Dennis has helped to build and maintain our infrastructure. It was mentioned during the lynching that we had a number of infrastructure projects to address in the next few years. I always believed that being able to address these issues was one of Dare’s strongest attributes. It is the council’s responsibility to fund these improvements.

Nobody in any position is perfect. I doubt if anyone has argued with Dare more than I have over the past 21 years as a councilman, council president or mayor. But these spirited discussions were for the right reason. We were both passionate about what we were attempting to do and how to get it done. I can assure you that I didn’t win every argument but I believe the discussions led to better results.

It’s not easy to work for eight people and that is the job of the city manager. It is not always how the city manager wants to do something but how he is told to do it. Dennis stood by his ideas and principles and yes could be considered stubborn but I think you want that quality in a city manager. We could all point out individual instances where we disagreed with how somethings may have been handled but in the big picture again they were the exception, not the rule. In the end, it was the council that made the decisions and the city manager that carried out the council’s directives.

Dennis went to great lengths to follow up on council individual requests and concerns. Again not an easy job but one he did out of respect to the council. Sometimes it was just not possible to find the backup material requested to substantiate an idea or opinion of an individual elected official. I have watched Dennis be harshly criticized publicly by council members and sit back and take his time to respond respectfully. Not easy to do but a good quality for a city manager.

Dennis was responsive to the public and viewed them as we should, our employers. Now could he satisfy every concern? No, but I think as elected officials we know that is not always possible. Did he have his detractors? Of course, but that again was the exception, not the rule.

Dennis is a player’s manager. By that, I mean he respected his staff and the city employees, and I believe always had their best interests in mind. The employees responded to the city manager.

Bottom line is Dennis Dare is a good man and deserved better than the unjustified pink slip he received from the council majority. Is the town better today because of this action? Of course not. We are still facing many challenges and I think the council majority severely underestimates the ramifications of this action.

Will we regroup and move on? Of course, but this is because of the personnel, policies and best management practices Dennis put in place. In the case, the ends do not justify the means. We are losing a great team player with the proven ability to solve problems in difficult times. When I look around town, I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved and Dennis should be very proud of the role he has played in our success. Dennis leaves behind a solid foundation and when he walks out of that office for the last time it should be with his head held high.

Rick Meehan

(The writer is the mayor of Ocean City.)
Evidence Needed


My wife and I have had a home in Ocean City for 16 years and have had permanent residence in Ocean City for four years.

During these 16 years, I have not seen the City Council handle a decision in a more inappropriate way than the one which resulted in the firing of Dennis Dare. The council provided no evidence that Mr. Dare deserved to be fired and provided no information to support its decision other than the desire to go in another direction.

As a citizen of Ocean City, I am concerned about the direction the council is giving Ocean City. The manner in which Dennis Dare was fired does not give me confidence that the council will be acting in the best interest of the City in the future.

Jeffrey M. McArthur, Sr
Ocean City
Council Conspiracy


Shame, shame.

The travesty that was engineered this past week cannot go without consequences.

The arrogance shown by the four is beyond belief.

As a businessman with 40 years of experience, it is without any previous example, that I have witnessed the firing of any employee, let alone an executive, that equals this.

How the president of the council, let alone his compatriots, could straight faced commend an individual on his character, work ethic and accomplishments then fire him is astonishing.

Dennis Dare has done a terrific job of keeping Ocean City a safe, clean resort especially during the past three years of economic downturn.

During that period, Dennis was charged with reducing city costs while maintaining the level of excellence the city workers had attained.

He did this to the tune of approximately 10 percent of the budget being trimmed and no loss of services.

For this, he was fired without published cause.

The four must be very proud of themselves for further lowering the morale of the city employees. That started by threatening the employees’ incomes and benefits with no plan in place.

Charlie Barrett
Ocean City
Majority Accountable Now


This was amazing to me. One day Mr. Dare is sitting in his office doing the normal fine job and the next he is out on the street. All because four members of our city council decide they want to go in a different direction.

In their statement, they complemented Mr. Dare saying he has done an excellent job and is a good city manager. Well then I can now understand why they forced him out. We wouldn’t want someone doing an excellent job in OC government would we? There have been a number of strange votes by this band of four, but this has to be the most ridiculous of them.. The mayor and three council members refused to attend this "closed door meeting" and all four stated they were very opposed to this action.

Well fellow citizens it’s time we ask the band of four what specific direction they plan on taking our city. No, ask is to gentle of a word, it is time we as the tax paying citizens demand to know what changes in direction these four plan on taking. We have every right to know and we should also know why. Why weren’t they willing to work with the current city manager on making these changes? Are they also planning on having another "closed door meeting" and making other changes of the city management?

There is one thing we should make sure we do. We should hold the four members that voted for this accountable for what happens now to the city and come the next election if things do not improve or get worse we can hold our own "closed door meeting" at the ballot box and vote all of them out.

Len Bender
Ocean City
What’s More Dangerous?


So Councilman Brent Ashley doesn’t "think small children should be exposed to people’s behinds," and the City Council seems quite willing to ban the sight of the human buttocks when in the past it has ignored a far more serious issue: the presence of smoke on the beach.

Well, the last time I checked, even small children are well aware that other people have behinds similar to their own. In addition, I know of no documented instance in which anyone has suffered permanent damage from exposure to the sight of another human’s posterior, however unattractive it may have been. Seems to me, however, that I have read of serious consequences related to exposure to secondhand smoke.

Even one of the most famous beaches in the world, Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, prohibits smoking. But perhaps the City Council fears a ban on beach smoking would send the USA down the slippery slope of having a repressive society such as that which exists in Australia. Could it be that the loss of revenue is the real concern?

So which is the greater danger? Secondhand smoke or the sight of the intergluteal cleft? You decide; the City Council, in its infinite wisdom, already seems to have made its decision.

Barbara Stevens
Ocean City

Dare Deserved Better


I disagree adamantly with the removal of Dennis Dare, Ocean City’s City Manager, from office by a 4 to 3 vote of the City Council. Jim Hall, Joe Hall, Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas voted for removal and Lloyd Martin, Mary Knight and Doug Cymek voted against the removal. Council President Jim Hall said, “Dare has done an excellent job … but the City needs to go in a new direction …” He failed to say what direction, though. I believe this was very wrong to do to a long-time excellent employee.

I have been amazed for a long-time that seven councilmembers, who some were elected by as little as a couple hundred votes from well less than 7,000 registered voters (24% voted last time), run a city with the facilities to provide services for 100,000 to 300,000 people during most of the months of the year. How can they be qualified, etc.? One of the salvations has been an excellent city manager, Dennis Dare, for 29 years. Now, he has been ambushed and removed.

I doubt that there was much agreement between the methods of Dare, who acted in the best interests of the people and city and the Halls (who I have never trusted and never vote for), Ashley and Pillas. There was certainly something wrong with the Gestapo lying tactics of the Hurricane Irene evacuation. I’d expect Dare was against the dishonesty purported by the Halls, others and the police’s actions.

There is an organization that is spear heading the displeasure with the removal of Dare. The Organization is “Citizens for the Preservation of our Town of Ocean City Community.”  They are having a meeting at the Clarion at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 26. I’m not sure I agree with all their flowery rhetoric, but I will be there. Also I plan to show up at the entrance to City Council meetings, with hopefully many others to show my displeasure.

Bob Ruthrauff
Ocean City

Issue Not Properly Vetted


The recent County Board of Zoning Appeals approval for the use of open air detonation of 25-pound explosives on a publicly owned site off Langmaid Road adjacent to Chincoteague Bay, within the County’s Resource Protection Zone, has raised serious questions regarding the County Commissioners ability to govern for the good of the public.

There is a reason why we as citizens expect this type of activity to take place on a military base. Military Testing Facilities are usually located on military facilities because the military has the experience, knowledge and resources to oversee the administration of a demolition range.

The County Commissioners have stepped into an area which apparently no one on the county staff has the expertise to oversee. When asked, during the hearing, if the county staff, the applicant, or the Fire Marshal, could produce an EPA Explosive Characteristic Sheet, an environmental impact study, or a Hazmat plan for the site, only crickets could be heard chirping in the background.

Our County Commissioners and our BZA do not have this expertise and should not be approving this type of activity based solely on the testimony of the applicant, without seeking the benefit of independent outside review and comment.

We contend the county and its citizens would have been better served if this land use issue had been properly vetted through a Zoning Text Amendment, and not the BZA, allowing for greater public notice and time to comment. We look forward to the sunlight of an appeals process.

Kathy Phillips

(The writer is the executive director of Assateague Coastal Trust.)
BZA Erred In Decision


Shock and anger describes the reaction of many citizens to Worcester County’s decision to place a military explosives testing facility in the middle of our great county. I hope this will be reconsidered as all parties including the County Commissioners and the BZA didn’t fully understand the impacts of this decision. In talking with one County Commissioner he was under the impression it was going to be like hearing a gunshot somewhere off in the woods during hunting season when in reality for many residents it is going to be like having the gun shot off right next to your ear.

Based on the testimony the biggest concern is about the noise and environmental impact. To the credit of Hardwire (the applicant) they didn’t hedge on the noise issue. The owner said it is going to be really loud. How loud? According to testimony the noise level at the bayside campgrounds on Assateague which is almost 5 miles away could be equivalent to having a jackhammer right next to your tent each time there is an explosion.  In South Point residential areas which is roughly 3 to 4 miles away the noise levels will be even greater than a jackhammer. This will occur up to 100 days a year and 6 times a day.

For the 70 or so residents living in the immediate vicinity of the explosives site the noise will be even greater — houses will shake and plaster will crack etc. According to GIS information, there are 1,356 people within the five-mile circle that could be listening to jackhammer-like noise almost a third of their lives. And within that five-mile circle, there is hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of real estate that will decline in value not to mention the adverse effect on quality of life.

The seven-mile ring which could hear significant noise as well, stretches from the edge of Berlin to the edge of Snow Hill. So the entire middle of the county will be impacted.

This decision is a big deal and will become the legacy of this group of County Commissioners if it goes forward. The one bright spot of the evening was the owner of Hardwire expressed concern over what he heard from the citizens and said he might not go forward. And the County Commissioners can still decide not to proceed. Let’s hope and pray all parties come to that conclusion.

Frank Gunion
Just Play The Game


During the recent U.S. Open Tennis women’s’ finals, Serena Williams was penalized for a loud remark made before the actual point was recorded (simplified explanation). Some heated exchanges were made between Serena and the umpire, but the penalty was up held (it’s in the rule book).

I am not here to criticize or to defend the ruling since those who made it and those who up held it are the experts. I just love to watch these young athletes play to win within the rules of the game.  

If you are like me, you are sick of the groans, grunts, screams, and nasty sounds that come from tennis players as they (men and women) hit the ball. And just so you know, I am not prejudiced against tennis players.

I also hate to see baseball players spitting and scratching on camera, I dislike the “in your face” antics by football players, the slam dunk by those overgrown basketball players, and the murderous fights during the hockey games.

Can’t the athletes just go out to their respective game fields and do what they came to do, without offending viewers with their bad manners? I remember the most important part of athletics was winning the game, not trying to out do each other with these offending antics.

Spit! Scratch! Gottcha! Slam! Punch! Ugh, scream, and wuuuu’s have got to go. My vote is in, how about you sports lovers?

Frank Vetare