Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Disturbing is the best way to describe the recent report by the IMCA Center for Public Safety Management that chronicles the “very poor” communication that exists between the Ocean City Fire Department and the town’s Emergency Services Department.

The report continues, “The ICMA team recommends that this situation be dealt with immediately. The new city manager and the city council must now take charge of this situation and take immediate steps to end these negative relationships. If the negative relationship is allowed to continue, it will likely cause irreparable harm to the departments and staff involved, ultimately degrading service to citizens and other customers. … It is of great importance that all of the participants in the business of providing public safety services communicate with one another and focus on what is best for the town of Ocean City.”

Appalling would be the way I would refer to the language used by some of the folks interviewed, specifically members of the OCFD who make clear their animosity and lack of trust with Emergency Services Department leadership. Rather than forging a cooperative relationship, an adversarial affiliation has been allowed to fester for the last five years. This has no place in any workplace, particularly when it comes to government and public safety.

The good news is most of the decision makers in Ocean City seem to be on the same page — this lack of respect and immature behavior is unacceptable. A cleansing of some sort is in order. Whether that involves new personnel or just a general set of rules regarding decorum and maturity is unknown. Perhaps the folks at ICMA put it best in the recommendation portion of the report.

It would not be constructive to assign blame for the deteriorating relationships, but all parties involved should play a role in remedying the situation. It is of great importance that all of the participants in the business of providing public safety services communicate with one another and focus on what is best for the town of Ocean City,” the report reads.

That seems like common sense to me, but clearly it’s not viewed that way by some leaders interviewed in the report based on the nauseating tenor of some of the comments in the report. The public should be concerned and be monitoring this developing situation.

I was so upset when I read Dan Rodricks’ column last weekend regarding the Hudson farm case and the recent decision by the Maryland General Assembly to allocate $300,000 for the family’s legal fees to reportedly offset the tax dollars used by the University of Maryland law clinic to assist the Waterkeeper Alliance’s case. I was irked because I wish I had thought of it the way he did. He nailed it in my opinion.

Rodricks wrote, “Everybody calm down, starting with the Maryland General Assembly. Already, the House of Delegates has authorized $300,000 — taxpayer dollars — for the legal fees of Alan Hudson, the farmer. Think what you wish about this case — many think it was weak and should never have been filed, and they might be right — but if anyone should be on the hook for legal fees incurred by the farmer it is the plaintiff, the Waterkeeper Alliance, not Maryland taxpayers. The state should not pony up for legal bills in any case the state didn’t bring. Think of the precedent that sets. The matter of who should pay what is for a federal judge to settle, not for grandstanding legislators.”

In the course of a week, this paper publishes on average 35 original stories, most of which will be forgotten within a matter of weeks. Every so often, a story comes around that I know I will remember forever.

That was the case with the story of Adam McDonough, a 1993 Stephen Decatur High graduate who now serves all of us as a U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer. As documented in News Editor Shawn Soper’s story this week, McDonough, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, was able to adeptly land his state-of-the-art chopper near a cliff and rescue seven U.S. Marines who were badly injured as a result of a training accident.

Perhaps most memorable to me about this story was McDonough’s modesty regarding this heroic rescue, as relayed by his father, Jeffrey.

“I saw the crash report and learned that Adam had been involved, but I didn’t know to what extent until I talked to him later,” he said. “He was very humble and acted like it was no big deal. He acted like it was just another day at the office. I said, ‘Adam, you’re a hero,’ but he told me he didn’t have any choice.”