Reputation At Risk
(The following letter was addressed to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan.)
On July 12, 2013, I submitted a letter to your attention, and my closing statement was an indirect question, which stated, “At this time, as voters and permanent residents, we would like to know what actions you are taking to address these problems.”
Mr. Mayor, the question was indirect, not rhetorical; yet as of to date, I have not received a response from you as my mayor. The problems of increased crime, menacing and threatening, and overall low standard of behaviors from certain tourists persist. As permanent residents of Ocean City, we should not lower our expectations and standards of how people should behave simply because they visit our community for a brief period during the summer months. We live here all year round. This is our home and we have a right to want to see it protected, preserved and cherished. Just because the Town of Ocean City depends on tourism does not mean our citizenry should be victimized and intimidated by gangs, thugs, criminals and various undesirable inner city crowd who masquerade as tourists.
Typically, people rise to the level of expectation. So if we pass a decency ordinance that prohibits saggy pants, (or anything else that resembles indecent exposure in public), and public profanity; then we are at least beginning to voice our expectations of what we will and will not accept in our community.
I support you, Mr. Mayor, yet I do not know if it is a lack of leadership or denial that has hindered Ocean City’s politicians and law enforcement from galvanizing resources to stamp out these emerging problems that are clearly witnessed by your constituents. There is a time and a season for everything under the sun. Mr. Mayor, now is the time for you to lead Ocean City out of this mess by becoming proactive, while there is still time. I don’t believe you want your legacy to be remembered by Ocean City’s residents, and the general public, as the mayor who allowed Ocean City, Md. to be overtaken by ruffians.
If tourism money is a concern to the political leadership and businesses of Ocean City, Md., then let’s fast forward three years and recognize that without serious interventions to these issues, tourism in our town will tank. We can’t have a myopic view of these problems or be of the opinion that these are isolated incidents. We must consider the history of other vacation resorts that did take an early and aggressive stance with these types of issues. For example, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took back Spring Break, Virginia Beach, Va. took back Bike Week and Wildwood, N.J. passed and is enforcing its city’s ordinance banning males wearing saggy pants. If these resort communities can take a stand and refuse to show cowardice in addressing criminal and offensive behaviors, so can we.
Mr. Mayor, people are looking for leadership on these matters. People are looking for political leadership in Ocean City, Md. to do the right thing. What is the right thing? Promote and provide public safety, and restore Ocean City’s reputation as a safe, clean, pristine and exclusive family resort. So, mayor, we are urging you to please take aggressive actions to resolve our community’s problems. In closing, I would like a response from you please to my question, “What are you and the council doing to address these concerns?”
Zero Tolerance Needed
I appreciated reading about the Walk Smart Campaign last week.
Encouraging everyone to use crosswalks via means of education such as the lighted signs and the newly painted "no pedestrian X-ing" on the seven-block stretch of Ocean City is a good start for sure, but I believe that more needs to be done in order to even begin to put a dent in this problem for us here in Ocean City.
As a resident here year-round, I continue to see people not using crosswalks. Young, old, people with small children, handicapped persons. It pains me to say this, but it is only a matter of time before we experience other injuries and tragedies. I believe that very few individuals are choosing to abide by the painted “No Pedestrian Xing” signs and cross wherever it is simply convenient for them to cross.
Perhaps one idea that might curtail some of the j-walking in Ocean City is if some wall barriers were to be placed in various parts of Coastal Highway. This is a difficult problem to muster for sure. J-walking is something in many communities that is tolerated and not enforced and until there is a zero tolerance for j- walking, it will continue and we will experience additional injuries and losses of life.
Smoke Alarm Law Change
In an effort to help reduce fire fatalities, Maryland has put a stake in the ground. As of July 1, families that rely on battery-only operated smoke alarms in their homes need to upgrade to models with sealed-in, 10-year lithium batteries.
Working smoke alarms save lives. Nationally, two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in residences with no smoke alarm or no working alarm. Last year, 53 Marylanders lost their lives in fires, nearly half of which happened in homes without smoke alarms or with inoperable alarms. Already this year 41 Marylanders have died in residential fires. The main reason smoke alarms don’t work: dead or missing batteries. By installing alarms with sealed-in 10-year batteries, we remove the burden of homeowners having to remember to replace them, and provide families continuous protection for a decade.
It’s also important to have enough alarms. The law requires smoke alarms on each floor and in sleeping areas. Studies show you have on average three minutes to escape from the time the first smoke alarm sounds. The sooner an alarm sounds, the more time you have to respond.
As a member of Maryland’s fire service for many years, I’ve seen too many fire tragedies. I urge you to not wait. Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old with the new long-life sealed-in battery models and place them throughout your home.
These simple steps can help save lives.
Bruce D. Bouch
(The writer is the deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce D. Bouch and director of Public Education and Media Affairs for the Office of the State Fire Marshal.)
Following a brief prayer opening the Mayor and Council Meeting on July 15, 2013, invoking the need for compassion on the part of those officials in carrying out their responsibilities, a public hearing was conducted concerning the partial elimination of overnight bus service from November to April. The issue was based on "budget discussions" earlier this year in which the council directed staff to review the matter for council consideration, Note that the paid parking issue also evolved during "budget discussions earlier this year and the council also directed the staff to review the matter for council consideration. Why does one issue require a public hearing while another issue does not?
Unfortunately the bus service reduction was approved, unanimously, largely because actual users of the service did not appear in person at the hearing to protest or speak to the issue. Several non-riders did speak suggesting alternative approaches but the council was not persuaded. Did the council consider that those who depend on the overnight service for their livelihood might actually be working at the time designated for the hearing? Do council members not recognize that they are responsible to all their constituents, not just those who show up or speak at meetings and hearings?
The staff, to its credit, did acknowledge that in fact there are approximately 40 or so actual users of the service, who will have to find other accommodations. So much for compassion for our fellow humans.