Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Although it didn’t look good for a couple weeks, the fact the Town of Ocean City and the Ocean City lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union’s bargaining unit, were able to resolve the stalemate in contract negotiations should be viewed as a positive.

The details of the agreement will not be known for a couple weeks until the full Mayor and Council approve the contract. That is expected to be a mere formality. The main issue that led to the impasse had to do with pay and benefits, according to sources. My understanding is the police wanted a certain Cost Of Living Adjustment and step increase while the city had a smaller amount in mind. More than likely, the measure was compromised to the satisfaction of the majority, as at some point in the process the city outlined for the FOP where the wiggle room was and where it had to hold steadfast. That’s how the talks were rekindled.

These sorts of negotiations can be usually called a success if neither party — the city or the FOP — got everything they wanted but agree fairness was achieved. That seems to be the case here. It’s always better to try and work out the differences before a binding judgment is made by someone unfamiliar. Remember while it’s a three-panel arbitration board that would be ruling on the disagreement, one person would be appointed by the city, another by the FOP and the third is agreed upon by the other two. Essentially, it’s a safe assumption to assume since it’s an impasse, the city and FOP’s representative will continue to disagree, leaving the decision to the so-called impartial individual. Nobody would probably be happy with that decision either, but it’s always better to control your own destiny.

With the intention clear to keep it, Ocean City needs to do something with its vehicle vending to spruce it up and perhaps expanding the offerings to snow ball is a step in the right direction.

At Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting during the public comment period, Melvo Snoballs President/Owner Jeff McMahon asked if the city would consider amending its current ordinance to allow snow balls to represent its vehicle vending franchise. For those unfamiliar, in recent years the holders of this franchise have largely sold ice cream and employees stand at the beach street-ends ringing a bell to signal ice cream is for sale. The vehicles travel through select parts of town per the ordinance to not compete with land-based businesses.

The franchise is hurting. In fact, all of the town’s similar franchises — beach photo (scopers) and beach stands — are struggling in general. For obvious reasons associated with technology, the scoper industry is not what it once was, despite attempts to modernize by the current franchise. For different reasons having to do with the proliferation of beach goods stores in the resort and elsewhere that offer chairs, umbrellas at bargain prices, most beach stands — save those in front of large hotels and condos — do a fraction of the business they once did.

The least attractive of the three franchises has always been the vehicle vending franchise. Expanding the franchise language to allow snow balls makes sense. It fits in well with the beach culture and there has been a bit of a resurgence of sorts of late. McMahon knows this from what he sees in Fenwick Island during the summer.

In Ocean Pines, a young woman’s snow ball stand off Route 589 has for several summers been a popular place for people of all ages. Adding snow ball offerings to the franchise may give it some attention and attraction and actually make for a competitive bidding process instead of how it is currently — nobody wants it because they can’t make money on it.

Two years ago, in one of my annual New Year predictions, I guessed that then-Gov. Martin O’Malley would announce intentions to seek Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat after his term expired. That was largely based off the fact O’Malley considered Mikulski a political mentor, as he worked on her first Senate campaign in 1986 and his mother has worked in the long-time senator’s Washington office for nearly three decades.

When Mikulski announced her retirement on Monday morning, I started thinking that O’Malley would run, as his presidential hopes are not looking too solid at this point based on some early polling, which admittedly is suspect. O’Malley squashed those early rumors later Monday afternoon, issuing a statement saying, “I will not be one” of the candidates seeking her seat next year.

This surprised me because O’Malley stands no chance of succeeding President Obama in the 2016 presidential election unless Clinton is derailed by some sort of controversy, which could be happening right now as certain actions during her tenure as Secretary of State under Obama has come under fire. Clinton lost to Obama in the Democratic primary in 2008. If she remains unscathed by the current dust up, O’Malley stands no chance of defeating her. In fact, for what it’s worth, Mikulski has already endorsed Clinton.

Because it’s a statewide office, there is little chance this Senate seat will leave the Democrat party. The bigger fallout will be if several current Maryland delegates or U.S. Congress members file and give up their seats to replace Mikulski.