Voices From The Readers

Voices From The Readers

Market Change Worries

As a local orchard grower, I feel compelled to alert the citizens of the town of Berlin that their successful downtown farmers’ market with over 20 years of operation will cease to exist after Nov. 16.

For reasons not made evident to the many farmers affected by such a decision, both the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and the Berlin Town Council have apparently decided that this popular destination for locals and visitors alike (as depicted on the chamber and town websites) is to be discontinued at its present location within a month.

In a town with a rich local history steeped in agriculture, the Berlin Farmers’ Market links our past with our present, showcasing all that the Delmarva region represents by offering locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers, bedding plants, herbs, eggs and seafood. The present downtown location is critical to the success of the market, just as it is in farmers’ markets located in town centers throughout Delmarva. The Town of Berlin has the proud distinction of being designated “A Sustainable City”. The downtown farmers’ market provides pedestrian and bicycle access along with an increase in customers for Berlin’s local businesses. Isn’t this the essence of sustainability?

The farmers in the Berlin Farmers’ Market need your help to continue this vital part of Berlin’s downtown legacy. Please contact your Berlin Town Council members without delay to request that this decision be rescinded so that the market may remain in its present location as part of a “Greener Berlin”.

Carrie W. Bennett

Fire Company Support

During the past few weeks there have been multiple news articles defaming the Berlin Fire Company and over 100 active, life and retired members by stating they are ignorant, discriminatory, ludicrous and illogical, just to name a few. These articles have been written from the viewpoint of Berlin Mayor Gee Williams. A newsletter sent to the citizens of Berlin from Mayor Williams, which was printed on Town of Berlin letterhead, quoted Edmund Burke stating, “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” The actual quote is, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Who are the good men, who is evil?

This Sunday’s Daily Times paper even quoted Mayor Williams stating, “We’re not going to be taken in by this garbage.” Again, I wonder who/what Mayor Williams is referring to when he states, “this garbage”

On behalf of the Berlin Fire Company members’ wives, mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, we take offense to these accusations and we are ready to defend our families. As wives, we support and encourage our husbands to be respectful fathers, role models, upstanding citizens, peers of our community, and last but not least, volunteers. Many holidays, birthdays, family dinners, etc. have been interrupted by an emergency call that requires our husbands to serve others. “Service to Others” comes first. This is the reputation the Berlin Fire Company has always upheld and will continue to do so, even through this current blaspheme.

Please remember that when “pointing a finger at someone” there are three fingers pointing back at you. This finger pointing motion applies to Mayor Williams. Hopefully, the public will begin to realize that there are two sides to every story.

Thank you Berlin Fire Company for continuing to serve your community. You are appreciated!
Lisa Brown

Thanks To Majority

We want to thank our Ocean City Council members, especially the majority four, Brent Ashley, Jim Hall, Joe Hall and Margaret Pillas, for their efforts in trying to hold down our city’s expenses. We all must realize that the economy of our times is not good, and Ocean City, as well as cities nationwide, need to use fiscal reform and cost cutting measures.

We think it is excellent that they have been able to do this without affecting the wages and benefits of our present employees, nor has conservative spending affected the services provided for the residents by the city.

Let us give thanks that the conservative majority on our Ocean City Council are using restraints to control government expenses, in accord with the wishes of the taxpaying residents and property owners.

Ann and John McDermott
Ocean City

OC Needs Change

During my 20-plus years of service as city clerk to the Mayor and Council, citizens and coworkers of the Town of Ocean City, I was privileged to participate in the Maryland Municipal League, the Maryland Municipal Clerks Association and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and always felt a tremendous pride to be an employee of the Town of Ocean City.

While stories abounded around me about the contention in other towns and cities, I could say that Ocean City’s Mayor and Council worked for the common good of Ocean City, had the vision to look and plan for the future and respected and recognized the value of dedicated employees. Unfortunately, that boast can’t be used today.

During those 20-plus years of service with the town, I served a few mayors and numerous council members, attended over 1,000 work sessions/council meetings, listened to discussions on the budget, development projects, amendments to ordinances, capital improvement plans, employee benefits and citizen concerns, and I feel qualified to know what makes a great council member or mayor. Members with a common perspective and vision to act for the present and the future of Ocean City; members respecting the opinion of other members albeit not always agreeing; members with an open mind to new ideas; and members who come to meetings prepared.

I believe the citizens of Ocean City will also recognize and vote for the great candidates who will restore the integrity and dignity of the town.

Carol L. Jacobs
(The writer is a retired city clerk with the Town of Ocean City.)

Vote Against Union

It is really very simple. Unions get all of their income from dues their members pay. The more members they have, the more income they get. Much of that income is used to make political contributions to candidates and elected officials they believe will support their union. These elected officials support unions by using our tax money to provide unionized government workers with more pay and benefits, and by passing laws that make it easier for unions to organize more workers and thus gain more income. In return, the unions reward these politicians by helping them get re-elected. For the taxpayer, it becomes an expensive vicious cycle.

If you want to keep your tax bill as low as possible, simply vote against further unionization of city employees, and vote for the candidates that the union opposes. In the upcoming Ocean City election, it becomes pretty clear by reading union ads and posters who they oppose. The union knows that these candidates will vote to keep taxes lower by keeping employee pay and benefits at reasonable, competitive levels.

The truth is that the “new majority” on City Council has already saved taxpayers millions in future taxes through the changes they were able to make in employee pension and health care benefits. And they could have saved us even more had the current tax-and-spend mayor not vetoed many of their proposed ordinances. The fact is that our current city employees, especially the police and higher level administrators, already receive salaries and benefits that far exceed those of most cities our size.

The head of the local Fraternal Order of Police union would like you to believe that we will lose trained officers to other cities if we don’t improve their pay and benefits. I very much doubt that claim since officers would have to move to much less desirable working conditions in major cities to find comparable law enforcement jobs with higher pay and better benefits..

The news is full of cities and states around the country going bankrupt because of their inability to raise taxes high enough to cover the pay and benefits granted to their employees. Notice that most of these bankruptcies are occurring in liberal, democrat dominated states like California, where union supported elected officials have been spending tax money for many years to reward the unions that contribute to their campaigns.

Don’t allow Ocean City to follow this same path. Vote for the fiscally conservative candidates the union opposes. Do not vote for tax-and-spend liberals the union supports. The unions will try to convince you that they care about the best interests of the taxpayers and city employees. Don’t be deceived; what they care most about is more members, more money and more power. Their survival depends upon it. It’s simple. Just follow the money. It goes in a circle.

Steve Whitmer
Ocean City

Ad Agency President
Addresses Statements

In an October 12, 2012 published interview, Ocean City Council candidate Bob Baker made several statements about the town’s tourism marketing efforts which were wholly incorrect. As the president of MGH, the town’s advertising agency, I have been intimately involved in every aspect of the town’s marketing for ten years working with three different tourism directors and I am in a unique position to clarify these inaccuracies for your readers.

#1: Mr. Baker stated “What I think I see is a plan that is a very simple, elementary advertising plan where we hire an agency that puts together some clever advertising and goes out and does media buys.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Ocean City’s marketing is multilayered and extremely complex. It encompasses everything from traditional media to data-driven online and mobile media buys that employ the most sophisticated targeting techniques. It includes a state-of-the-art website and mobile application for both iOS and Android. It supports all the town’s tourism touch-points, including all major events, golf, the buses and the convention center. It employs an integrated social media effort and an active ambassador program which is the envy of our competitors. These plans have been presented to the council, Chamber and HMRA and have been widely reported in the local press.

#2: Mr. Baker claims that we don’t know if our marketing is “effective or even efficient” and “we’ve never done any research.”

In the last five years, six separate research studies were conducted. Here are a few highlights:

In summer 2006 and 2007, an online visitor survey was conducted to gauge visitor satisfaction, behavior and brand equity. Our hotel/motel partners assisted this effort by handing out survey invitations to their guests. A PRISM analysis was also conducted which helped refine our media plans.

In Summer 2011, Equation Research was hired by the town to do a comprehensive research study, which will be repeated every two summers. Part of this study was specifically to measure the awareness, likability and intent of consumers exposed to our advertising. The study, conducted by an independent firm not hired by MGH, conclusively proved that our advertising was much more effective than any of our competitors. There were many other findings that were presented to the council in open session and widely reported in the local press.

In Summer 2012, we conducted a specific study to better understand how our visitors and website users behave when booking online accommodations and how OCocean.com could better meet their needs. This study is in the analysis phase and will result in modifications to to the website which will increase the number and quality of leads delivered to local businesses.

We’ve also conducted smaller research projects during Springfest and at Eagle’s Landing.

I certainly agree that we don’t have a good way to measure whether there are more visitors in town or not. Demoflush is certainly not accurate. Room tax has its supporters and detractors. Smith Travel Research only represents a small percentage of the town and cannot be used for easy comparison. What I do know is that the competition for tourism dollars has intensified and we are up against inexpensive options that didn’t exist 10 years ago. I also know that during the recession our numbers held up much better than our direct competitors based on widely reported statistics.

I, too, am looking forward to the town’s planned development of a comprehensive strategic plan. Not as a first step in developing a marketing plan, we already do that. But as a means to guide our work in the years ahead.

Andrew M. Malis
(The writer is the president of MGH, Inc.)