Ocean City Councilwoman Mary Knight ventured into the proverbial lion’s den this week when she attended the Ocean City Taxpayers for Social Justice’s town hall meeting, which was attended by about 40 people.
“My goal was to be there to help people understand what is really going on in the city. The meeting was eye opening. It made me realize the council should do a better job of getting out the truth. There were a lot of misconceptions, and I was very happy to be there and answer questions and suggest guest speakers to offer insight,” Knight said. “What I saw was they are angry, but they are forgetting all the good in our city.”
It was an interesting week for Tony Christ and his Ocean City Taxpayers for Social Justice group. At the group’s meeting, Christ took some time to disparage the local press and even at one point reported that I specifically said this newspaper’s coverage of the resort is slanted due to close ties with MGH Advertising, which handles Ocean City’s marketing. He said I used the word “heavily” to describe how much MGH advertises Ocean City in this newspaper and that was the reason why this publication was not covering the news the way he feels it should. The fact is MGH places some media buys with this newspaper for special events in Ocean City, such as Springfest and Sunfest, but it’s certainly not “heavily” advertising Ocean City in this paper, and I never told Christ anything of the sort. MGH has never been discussed in any of our conversations, which largely revolve around Christ’s claim that West Ocean City businesses are booming while Ocean City businesses are crumbling due to the increased cost of operating on the island.
The fictitious claim about what this newspaper editor reportedly said was one of several mysterious things Christ said this week that undermines his credibility. Another came at this week’s Mayor and Council meeting on Monday evening, involving a strange story about a dog having a tick on his “butt bone” and how Councilman Dennis Dare was like the tick. Check that, maybe Dare was supposed to be the dog or maybe he was actually the butt bone. I had trouble following that one, but it had something to do with what happens to the tick after the dog dies.
In all seriousness, citizens groups can be valuable in the public arena, but their meetings cannot be a forum for misrepresentations, baseless accusations and simple lies. When they spew inaccurate information, such as what Christ did when he publicly ridiculed two reporters and fabricated a story about a conversation he and I never had, that’s what I would term as “destructive”.
Unfortunately, the term “good old boy” is often pejorative in nature and refers to backroom political malfeasance. However, it shouldn’t always be a negative. I got to reflecting about that this week after Steve Falck’s passing.
To me, Falck was a “good old boy," but in a positive sense. There is a large group of men in this area in their 60s and older, in some cases, as close as brothers that share a familiar bond. They grew up in the area, raised families, operated businesses, worked in the real estate and retail trades, spent hours surfing together and playing sports, enjoyed tipping a few cocktails back together from time to time and stayed close through the years. As is typical with all friendships, there are distant times as a result of work and family obligations, but in times of joy and sorrow they have always been there for each other. Falck was in this group to be certain.
I largely knew Falck for the fact he built my parents’ house in the late-1980s and exchanged greetings in Berlin on a nearly daily basis for years before he got sick. While I knew him, I knew of him more. In fact, I think I learned more about the man after he got sick than I did when he was well, building houses, catching waves and coaching lacrosse.
As I reflected on his life earlier this week, as thousands surely did, I recalled a chance encounter with a group of his fellow “good old boys” a couple months back. My wife and I were at The Globe sneaking in dinner at the bar before the weekend when we saw two men we knew having a drink and chatting. Slowly but surely, it became a group of about a half dozen or so men. Several of them told me they were going over to pay a visit to their buddy Steve and The Globe was serving as the meeting place for a drink prior to heading over.
They were perhaps in need of a little liquid courage to help them gather their thoughts before going to see their longtime friend, who they presumably knew was nearing the end of his long battle. It was no secret Falck loved the camaraderie, particularly as his illness took hold, and his friends knew that. I imagine there were lots of laughs shared that night during their visit (and probably some private tears later as reality took hold).
In small communities, every death is felt on some level and particularly in specific circles of industry and friendships. For Falck, among his favorite passions were family, surfing, lacrosse and construction. He left his mark on each of those and his family can take comfort in the fact stories and memories of his life will continue to be shared for a long time to come.