It’s been a week since the Ocean City Mayor and Council discussed the topic for five minutes and voted to no longer offer $5,000 to the angler catching the first white marlin of the season.
The fishing industry was immediately offended, particularly after the video portion of the budget session floated around social media. The video shows most of the council members opposed to the city continuing to fund the prize. In general, the council seemed to think it wasn’t valued to the fishing community. It’s important to remember while the council did vote to eliminate the prize the intention seemed to be to spend the $5,000 elsewhere on fishing, most likely through its partnership with Fish In OC.
Soon after the vote, and once this paper’s story was published online, the Mayor and Council learned just how important that $5,000 prize is to the local fishing industry. Fair or not, outrage is the best way to describe the reaction from local fishing folks.
After speaking with Councilman John Gehrig, Fish In OC’s Scott Lenox has organized a group to attend the Mayor and Council meeting on Monday night to try and change the minds of the elected officials who supported it. At that budget session last week, only Council President Lloyd Martin and Councilman Tony DeLuca voted against eliminating it because they wanted more time to consider it. It’s worth pointing out Lenox and his Fish In OC brand would stand to gain if the city did redirect the $5,000 spent on the prize to marketing efforts. Lenox said last week he would rather not have the extra funds from the city if it meant the first marlin prize would be eliminated.
If the council sees fit to leave the prize intact, as I think it will after hearing from citizens next year, the end result of all this could be a much a larger prize for the season’s first whit marlin. As soon as word spread last week about the city’s intention to pull the prize money, Bank of Ocean City Vice President Earl Conley got on the horn and formed a coalition called Fishermen United of Ocean City, comprised of several businesses to keep the prize in place. The result being approximately $6,000 has been committed in prizes from various businesses.
If the city reinstates the $5,000 prize, which is matched by the Ocean City Marlin Club if the boat is a registered member, and the coalition keeps what it’s raised in the till, some lucky angler could be in for quite the payday of at least $16,000.
The Maryland General Assembly session that wrapped this week has been called a major win for Gov, Larry Hogan. Even The Baltimore Sun gave him a lot of credit this week for getting his key legislative priorities passed, including ethics reform, tax incentives for manufacturing companies, a change in the definition of sex abuse to include trafficking of children and a rollback of transportation changes that he was planning to veto if a compromise was not reached.
Yes it was a good week for Hogan, who was also ranked the second most popular governor in Maryland with a 73% approval rating, according to a poll by the Republican Governors Association.
Clearly Hogan is empowered. This session is critical for his re-election efforts as he eyes a second term next year. If the approval ratings and success in the legislature don’t prove his confidence, consider how he went after the Montgomery County Public School system earlier this month after it asked the governor to reconsider its school calendar mandate because it was causing major hardships. Hogan didn’t take well to that, reminding school system officials they should eliminate the glut of professional days on its exciting calendar and focus on what’s happening in their own jurisdiction rather than spending time questioning a done deal. He was referencing the 14-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by two individuals, one of whom was 18 and an illegal immigrant.
“It is unacceptable for students to miss this much classroom time and force parents to alter their schedules or find childcare during the school year, when this professional development could easily take place during the summer break,” he wrote in a letter to the school system. “Considering the series of recent troubling incidents reported in Montgomery County schools, I suggest you and your colleagues consider shifting your focus from arguing over which 180 days class is in session to ensuring that students are safe in your schools.”