Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – March 10, 2017

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During most Mayor and Council meetings, the town’s elected officials listen to comments from the public at various points, many of which are often on point and relevant to the issues being discussed. Others sometimes drift away from the issues being discussed, but it’s an important part of the democratic process and First Amendment protected speech as it should be, but occasionally there are times when the public comments should never be stated.

That was the case on Monday when at least one of the speakers from the public strayed from the topics germane to the discussion and probably needed to go back and read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” A long-time Boardwalk street performer was outlining some of his concerns about the summer rules for street performers and crossed an obvious line.

“The most important thing is that the city can demand of the street performers that they be upstanding people, that they are not unacceptable people,” he said. “The city can demand that they be straight, let’s put it that way, that they are straight.”

Most times, the Mayor and Council listen attentively to the public comments and respond when possible, but on this particular occasion, Council Secretary Mary Knight had heard enough and called out the street performer on his assertion the city should somehow monitor the various orientations of the buskers on the Boardwalk.

“He used the phrase he only wants straight people to be able to perform on the Boardwalk,” she said. “I hope that all of the listeners, the press and everybody in here realizes we would never, ever discriminate against anybody. I find it very offensive as to what he said. It’s extremely offensive and I just want the public to know we would never, ever consider such a ridiculous request.”

Unless there’s a major change in the Senate, it’s looking like Maryland will soon force paid sick leave changes on businesses. This is bad legislation for small business, and I liked how the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce stated its opposition before the House Economic Matters Committee last month.

“Ocean City businesses employ upwards of 12,000 seasonal employees. Further, most regional businesses make their annual profits over a small 3 month window and incorporating this mandate would be very costly and affect the employer’s ability to operate. Paid sick leave is another unnecessary and expensive burden for small businesses,” the testimony read. “Many businesses are still struggling and now is not the time to be burdening our businesses with more costly and unnecessary measures. We need the legislature to look for ways to ease the burden. … We are, as well, sensitive to the needs and requirements of many State of Maryland business constituencies regarding their capacity to implement a fair and reasonable mandated sick leave policy; and therefore acknowledge that a “one size fits all” legislative solution may be impractical and we would suggest flexibility as this policy is applied statewide.”

While I don’t think this change is necessary at all, it seems beyond reasonable for amendments to be considered. It happens all the time. The two I think would be most applicable to Ocean City businesses are increasing the seasonal exclusion to 120 days, from 90, and keeping businesses with under 50 full-time employees out of the mandate.
Berlin knows how to win an online contest. That much we learned a few years back when a diligent social media campaign essentially won Berlin the America’s Coolest Small Town contest.

Berlin is back at it again now with a different contest and this one carries more bragging rights as well as a big prize in the form of $25,000. From now until April 24, residents can vote at www.mainstreetcontest.com for Berlin in America’s Main Streets contest. The 25 entries with the most votes will advance to the semifinals, which run the month of May. After May 28, a panel will choose a grand prize winner from the top 10 semifinalists based on votes.

Along with the money, a major difference with this contest is Berlin will not know how it’s faring against its competitors. With the “coolest” contest, the updated results were immediately noticeable after a vote was cast. That’s not the case with the Main Street contest.

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.