Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – October 28, 2016

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – October 28, 2016

Until this week, I confess to not being aware of the “topfreedom” movement, but I sure am now after this week’s story and online buzz in response to it.

On the surface, it seems so obvious that women shouldn’t be allowed to go topless as men can do. It’s indecent and far too revealing for the general public in our country. After a closer look and reading about this “topfreedom” movement, these advocates have a valid point when it comes to “Equal Protection” laws. It seems societal condemnation of bare breasted women is rooted in private beliefs rather than law. That’s why Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby filed a request with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office seeking clarity and direction on how to proceed with Chelsea Covington’s request from his office that, “if men can go shirtless, Equal Protection requires that women be allowed to go topless too.”

After looking over her blog, “BreastsAreHealthy,” Covington is clearly an advocate for the “topfreedom” movement. She has done her homework on the matter and has gone topless on the beach in Ocean City several times and many other places. In fact, she reported on her blog, “I’ve gone bare-chested in Ocean City between 20 and 30 times in the last two years. By and large people ignored me, as they should.”

Over those two years of going topless, Covington states only one time has she been given any trouble. In that case, she said a fellow beach-goer complained to the lifeguard on duty. She reported she wasn’t arrested “because Maryland law allows it.” She said the complaint allowed her to have the desired conversations she has wanted for some time with the beach patrol, police department and then Oglesby’s office.

This really is a fascinating situation and one that clearly could be precedent setting dependent on how the attorney general opines. While that’s being drafted, Covington seems content on spreading her message.

On her blog this week after our online story was published Monday, she wrote, “At its core, topfreedom is about creating equality, reducing victim blaming, bullying and body-shaming and to promote body positivity and autonomy in girls and women. No one is saying women should go bare-chested.  We are saying we should have the choice, as men freely do. Neither Maryland nor Ocean City will be remotely inventing the wheel on topfreedom or gender equality.  Female breasts are healthy, nurturing body parts.  It will feel new at first, but it will be normal and okay very quickly.”

Although it may not seem that way to many, commercial development along Route 50 has been slow. This is especially the case along the stretch from Holly Grove Road to Seahawk Road, which was identified 20 years ago as areas prime for commercial growth.

While there are several reasons, including the economic downturn in the last decade, the main issue currently is it’s too expensive to develop. The cost associated with permitting and building and the outrageous square-foot prices being charged have derailed numerous efforts in the past.

One of the objectives of the Design Guidelines and Route 50 Corridor Plan Task Force is to make it easier to develop along the highway, specifically at the Ocean Landing Shopping Center area where Walmart and Home Deport are the anchors.

Worcester County Economic Development Director Merry Mears put it this way.

“Worcester County is now in the position to grow this area substantially, and it must be done responsibly, with significant input from the business community,” she said. “I’m encouraged by the cohesiveness of the members involved, and I look forward to the outcomes of our work.”

Governor Larry Hogan is fed up and he’s no longer mincing words about the continual opposition to his post-Labor Day school start Executive Order, including this week’s resignation of a state school board member.

During a conversation last week with Comptroller Peter Franchot and Lou Peck, political editor of Bethesda Magazine, at a breakfast hosted by the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, Hogan got some things off his proverbial chest.

“You may not know this, because it has been ignored by the media, and the tiny minority of vocal opponents, but the decision on starting school after Labor Day was thoroughly vetted and overwhelmingly approved by a legislatively-mandated, nonpartisan commission made up of school administrators, school board members, education professionals, teachers, PTA members, and parents. The commission studied this issue in depth and addressed every concern, disproved every false claim, answered every question, overcame every objection and then voted 12-3 to start school after Labor Day,” he said in a rant. “The previous governor, the President of the State Senate, the majority of legislators, and the Comptroller all strongly support starting school after Labor Day,” Hogan said. “Most importantly, it is supported by an overwhelming super-majority of parents, teachers and students. It is my job to serve the people of Maryland, and I will never stop doing what is best for our students and families.”

I take exception to the covered up by the media part because we have reported the task force’s findings numerous times, but I agree with everyone else.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.