Voices From The Readers

Support Group Has
Faith In Process

Fully Involved S.T.A.F.F. (Standing Tall Around Firefighters) would like to take this opportunity to thank The Dispatch newspaper for your article, “OC Fire Department Embroiled In Turmoil.”

After many years of ongoing issues within the Ocean City Fire Department including the witnessing of deteriorating morale, strong arm management, fear of retaliation, negative attacks in the press and other items reported in the story, we decided to form a group in support of the Fire/EMS Division. The press found our concerns credible and newsworthy as part of an ongoing investigation by this newspaper dating back to November 2012. We knew that this decision would come with quite a bit of comments both good and bad. We welcome any and all comments including those online from a responsible, knowledgeable and mature public.

We want to make it fully clear that we do not take these issues lightly. These incidents/complaints reported are very real, very serious and deserve prompt attention. We realize that much of the public had no idea of the situation within this department and this would certainly warrant some skeptics. However, as the story reports, the City Manager has heard the concerns and stresses of so many of the Fire/EMS Division personnel that he has now organized meetings with the members, without the presence of the Command Staff, to learn more about the issues.

These issues never had anything to do with contract negotiations between the union and the Town of Ocean City. We are not privy to contract information and we do not speak for everyone, but as a whole the Fire/EMS Division is quite satisfied with the relationship between the Mayor and Council, City Manager, volunteers and the union.

We put faith in the process that is taking place. It remains our hope that all issues at hand will be addressed and resolved. We remain committed to our mission as stated in the initial article and look forward to a positive outcome.

Fully Involved S.T.A.F.F.

MDE Clears Air

Recent news coverage of the consent order agreed to by the Worcester County Commissioners to resolve pollution violations at the Mystic Harbour wastewater and drinking water treatment plants (“Commissioner Alleges MDE’s $25K Fine ‘A Money Grab,’” The Dispatch, March 1) might have left readers confused about the manner in which Maryland enforces the laws that protect public health and the environment.

As required by their discharge permit, which is designed to prevent water pollution, Worcester County reported that discharges from its facilities exceeded its permit limits for various pollutants. The agreement reached between the County Commissioners and the Maryland Department of the Environment is similar to others between the Department and permit holders that own and operate facilities that violate the laws that protect our groundwater and waterways. The agreement requires upgrades that will ensure the County’s facilities meet discharge limits in their permits at all times. It includes interim performance standards for the construction and start-up periods, and it sets a time frame for the upgrade to be complete to bring the facilities into compliance with the permit. The agreement also provides for financial penalties – with amounts agreed to by the Commissioners – if the upgrade schedules are not met. The work by the County required in this agreement will ensure that water quality and public health is protected.

State law also provides for financial penalties in cases where permit violations have occurred to deter future violations and remove any economic benefit from failing to comply with environmental laws. In this case, the State initially sought a penalty of $50,000 – and not $75,000, as has been reported – and later reached agreement with the County on a $25,000 penalty. Without penalties, violators would not have an incentive to maintain their treatment systems to prevent pollution if they can simply wait until an inspector discovers the violation before taking action to fix the problem.

The Maryland Department of the Environment is committed to an effective and fair enforcement program that ensures violations are corrected quickly and that everyone takes their environmental responsibilities seriously. The work done by the majority of Maryland citizens and businesses that comply with environmental laws cannot be negated by violations by the few that do not. A strong enforcement program protects the environment, health and quality of life of all Maryland residents.

Robert M. Summers, Ph.D.
(The writer is the Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.)

Bars Should Post
Safety Messages

I am requesting on behalf of the greater good of this our fine city, Ocean City, Md., that a proposal, plan and required posting of bylaws governing responsible consumption of alcohol be presented to, for and by the Mayor and City Council to and for all bars and restaurants to post such bylaws for the benefit of all patrons, businesses and the overall prosperity of all who visit and live here in Ocean City.

A posting that the city is supporting and requiring the bars and restaurants to require all patrons to post and to abide by such basic behavioral bylaws, which will assist in providing such the good experience for all its customers. The bylaws will also help each establishment to avert very possible, probable and potential hazards of adding people and alcohol together. Ethyl ain’t no lady.

This is a present reality that the Mayor and City Council must and should spearhead in order to promote a safe and clean environment. Please help Ocean City move toward a safe family and vacationing place to live.

Al “Pop” Wendling
Ocean City

Obama’s Scare Tactics

Now that we have survived the first week of Frankenquestser, those who pay attention know that the President and his abettors, including the cabinet secretaries, have been grossly exaggerating, if not outright lying about, the effects of the President’s sequester tactic. Keep in mind here that we are not talking actual cuts here, but decreases in future spending increases.

Included in the liars are the Secretary of Education claiming teachers were already receiving pink slips; Secretary of Transportation warning layoffs of air traffic controllers; the President’s claim that Capitol janitorial staff would be laid off; and, worst of off, Secretary of Homeland Security actually authorizing the release from detention of thousands of illegal immigrants.

To add insult to injury, the President cancelled White House tours. Whose House is it, Mr. President?

That said, the citizens of the First Congressional District of Maryland are blessed to have Dr. Andy Harris as our Congressman. In a hearing on Capitol Hill last week, Dr. Harris questioned the Director of the Centers for Disease Control regarding its memo which claimed that "Republican" sequester cuts would deny vaccinations to children, including 2,000 Md. children. Can you believe that the Director did not know who in his department was responsible for the memo? Dr. Harris pointed out that the President’s proposed 2013 budget called for a cut of $58M to the subject vaccination program, double the sequester decrease. The Director claimed that the CDC could have maintained the level of vaccinations with a $58M cut, but would somehow not be able to do so with a cut of half that size.

Apparently, these high-level Federal employees must believe they swore an oath to protect and defend the President, rather than the Constitution of the United States of America.

Gwen L. Cordner

Finnegan’s Wake A Success

On behalf of the members of the Friends of WCDC, I would like to thank all those who played a part in the success of our first Finnegan’s Wake last Saturday.

D.J. Shirk at Seacrets was a joy to work with. He gave us the benefit of his experience but allowed us a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do to put on our show. Rico and his crew were very helpful to us unloading and setting up and even figuring out last minute fixes for our sets. The wait staff and bartenders were friendly and efficient. Thanks, too, to Bulldog who got us on his show to promote the event. The Seacrets organization made the planning and execution so easy.

Patrick McAllorum, our featured entertainer, filled Morley Hall with singing and laughter. His good-natured humor and smooth vocals delighted the audience. He is a consummate performer who really loves what he does. We were so fortunate to have his talents for our wake. He even donated half of the money he made selling his CD’s back to the Friends. Patrick is a pot o’ gold himself.

Another Patrick, Patrick Harmon, brought the Ocean City Pipes and Drums to the celebration. They were incredible. They led the funeral procession from outside the building to the inside and paraded around the inside to start the evening. You usually don’t hear too many songs from a pipe band, but this group performed an extended set later in the evening that gave the audience goose bumps. They were powerful and moving.

It’s not many people who will volunteer to be a corpse, but Jack Ferry, Sr., Lee Gerachis and Cecil Tull gladly laid in state for this benefit. They are really good sports.

Thank you to the DelmarvaLife TV show and to all the local press for supporting us and helping us get the word out not only about Finnegan’s Wake but more importantly about WCDC and the support it provides people who live with an intellectual disability.

We had a very large turnout, so thank you to the community for coming out to see our show and support our cause. A special thanks to the members of Friends of WCDC who put a lot of time and energy in to the planning and execution. Special kudos to Bill Davis who constructed a beautiful coffin and John Rafter who built a stand to hold it.

Lastly, I want to thank all our families and friends who supported the night. People travelled from far distances and jumped in with both feet to become a part of the festivities. The Gallagher family was a mighty throng who brought a lot of life to the party. The Joy family, the Bengermino’s, Doberlstein’s and Ferry’s were also instrumental in making the night a rousing success. Look for us next year the week before St. Patrick’s Day.

Cathy Gallagher
(The writer is the president of the Friends of WCDC.)

Pet Horses Or Eat Them?

Last week, food safety officials in United Kingdom, France, and Sweden found traces of horse meat in ground beef sold across Europe. Massive recalls and lawsuits are ensuing.

Can it happen here? Horse slaughter for human consumption was banned in the U.S. between 2007 and 2011. But now, a New Mexico slaughterhouse is getting approved by U.S. authorities to slaughter horses for human consumption, and a Philadelphia restaurant has already announced plans to serve horse meat.

I marvel at our hypocrisy of rejecting the notion of horse or dog meat on our dinner plates, while condemning cows, pigs, and chickens to the same fate. Obviously, we have established special relationships with horses and dogs as our companions, protectors, and sports protagonists, rather than as food. But where is the ethical and logical distinction, given that all these animals are endowed by individuality, sentience, and an ability to experience the same feelings of joy, affection, sadness, and fear that we do?

Fortunately, our health food industry has spared us from having to choose which animals to pet and which ones to eat. Their delicious soy and grain-based meat alternatives are available in every supermarket.

Owen Mast
Ocean City