While he most likely didn’t agree with my view that he was insulting to his fellow elected official and the voters of Ocean City, I have to credit Councilman Dennis Dare for being responsive this week. It’s the first time in 20 years of working at this publication that I can recall my name ever being spoken by an elected official during a council meeting. In the past, views I have expressed have been referred to in some fashion but never have I been quoted at a council proceeding.
“… Editor Steve Green accused me of using a condescending tone when I addressed Councilmember John Gehrig at the organizational meeting when he brought up the theory that the number of votes cast in the recent election should somehow dictate who serves as council president or council secretary,” Dare said at the close of Monday’s meeting. “I want to publicly apologize to Councilmember Gehrig if he interpreted my words as condescending, for that was not what I wished to portray. Mr. Green was correct in his opinion article that I was frustrated but that’s not an excuse to insult my colleague.”
On my objection to Dare’s statement that rabble-rouser Tony Christ and his handout criticizing the city had a significant impact on vote counts on election day, Dare admitted there was truly no way to know.
“I see no difference in what Mr. Christ did than what Mr. Green does every week. They both reduce their thoughts to paper and freely distribute it. It’s my belief that Mr. Christ’s endorsement of candidates could have influenced the outcome of the election just as Editor Green’s endorsements were meant to. But no one can say for sure what influence either had on the election results,” he said.
For what it’s worth, Dare was endorsed by this publication, glowingly I might add, while Christ was vocally supportive on election day of only Gehrig and Councilman Tony DeLuca and opposed Dare, Mary Knight and former Councilman Doug Cymek.
In response to Dare, Gehrig was looking to move on past the election.
“Councilman Dare, thank you. I certainly didn’t take it as insulting but I appreciate the apology. Look, the way I take this is we are all on the same team. We live in the greatest community. That’s why we are anxious and excited to be up here and do our part to help. The election is over and I am just excited to work with all of you. Madam President [Mary Knight, who was filling in for Council President Lloyd Martin] as well. So on with the show,” Gehrig said.
It’s probably just a temporary stay but small businesses in the area, and presumably across the country, cheered Thursday when a Texas judge struck down President Obama’s broad changes to federal overtime rules, which are aimed at boosting the income of the low and middle class at the expense of business owners.
The judge’s order will be appealed and there’s a chance the changes will still take effect eventually, but this week’s opinion means the Dec. 1 take effect date has been withdrawn.
This ruling could be huge because it will give labor agencies and business groups another opportunity to address their many concerns with the changes, especially the lack of accounting for seasonal businesses. That’s where most of the problems are with these changes.
It would seem safe to assume that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was aware of the National Aquarium’s efforts to obtain the nation’s first Urban National Marine Sanctuary status for the Baltimore Canyon, a major offshore fishing grounds for recreational and commercial fishermen.
After this week’s letter from Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, there’s no question Hogan knows about it. In a letter dated Nov. 22, Carozza expressed opposition and concerns with the current effort “on behalf of our local men and women involved in the fishing and boating sectors.”
Carozza wrote, “I respectfully request your review of the negative economic impact of the designation on our local fishing and boating industries and related businesses, and your assistance in opposing the proposed designation. … Should the Baltimore Canyon be designated as a marine sanctuary, the Regional Fishery Management Council of the U.S. Department of Commerce could limit, restrict, or prohibit fishing in the canyon. This means that the available fishing areas most relied upon by our offshore fishing fleet would be diminished by one third, which would be absolutely devastating to local fishing community.
Carozza’s letter reminded the governor of the economic impact any changes to the canyon’s availability could have on the state.
“Ocean City has seven active marinas which serve approximately 1,500 boats, and up to 3,000 boats depart the Ocean City Inlet for offshore fishing on a regular basis. Thousands of employees are employed at the local marinas and related businesses, and there are no less than 12 offshore fishing tournaments sponsored each summer with a combined purse of $8 million. Offshore fishing conservatively contributes $100 million annually to our local economy,” the letter reads.
As of Thursday, the online petition signature effort had reached 1,639 in support. That’s a slight increase from one week ago when it stood at 1,609. As I said last week, this is hardly a robust showing of support for what would be a major and risky change.