Voices From The Readers – May 19, 2017

Voices From The Readers – May 19, 2017

Partnerships Valued


With the first major special event of the season upon us, we at the Ocean City Police Department have officially begun our busy season.

To effectively police the town, we are required to supplement our police presence during major motor events such as Cruisin’ Ocean City by bringing in allied agencies to assist our officers. This weekend, citizens can expect to see officers from the Maryland State Police, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland Transportation Authority. Many of these officers travel far distances to assist us and, as an incentive to their agency, we work very closely with our local hotels, motels and restaurants to provide the officers with food and lodging while they are here.

On behalf of our entire department, I would first like to thank Susan Jones and her staff at the Ocean City-Hotel Motel-Restaurant Association. Thanks to their relationships with hotel owners and coordination efforts, we are able to provide lodging for all of the officers that need it at no cost to the Town of Ocean City. I sincerely thank the Commander Hotel, Francis Scott Key Resort, and Ocean 1 Hotel for their gracious hospitality and support.

Many restaurants throughout town have also agreed to provide discounted meals for visiting officers. I would like to sincerely thank Anthony’s Carryout, Captain’s Table, Coral Reef Café, Dough Roller on 41st and 70th Streets, Fish Tales, General’s Kitchen, Happy Jack’s Pancake House, Layton’s on 16th Street, Pit & Pub on 28th Street, Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli and Starbucks on 17th Street.

We are extremely grateful for the many local business partners that have shown their dedication to public safety in Ocean City. The community partnerships and strong relationships that we enjoy are truly what makes our community safe.

Ross Buzzuro

Ocean City

(The writer is the chief of the Ocean City Police Department.)

Council’s Wind Farm Position Off Mark


In response to the article, “OC Wants Offshore Wind Farm At Least 26 Miles Offshore,” the Ocean City Council is at it again, trying to minimize Ocean City wind farm visibility by have the wind farm be situated off the shores of Great Britain. That should do it.

Yes, the Britain location is an exaggeration (secretly a wish of the council?), an exaggeration no worse than those propagated by Mr. DeLuca, “…safe distance … at least 26 miles” or Ms. Knight’s, “… Our research shows 26 miles. If you leave it vague, they can come back with 15, 18 or 20 miles. Deepwater’s turbines are as tall as a 60-story building and you can see them at 19 miles.”

Ms. Knight’s “60-story building” would put the Deepwater Wind’s windmill turbines at 649 feet high, or 159 feet taller than the allegedly 500-foot height cited by the council. That would make the Ocean City turbines the tallest in the world, surpassing London Array’s 485 feet turbines off the coast of Great Britain. Further, US Wind’s turbines at 345 feet would be 304 feet taller per Ms. Knight’s “60-story building” calculation.

Not to be outdistanced, Mr. DeLuca relies on “…everything he has learned from expert suggests the safe distance … 26 miles”. Mr. DeLuca’s expert suggestions are wanting. The formula for distance to horizon is Square Root (height above surface/ 0.5736) equals distance to horizon. A few examples below:

For an observer standing on the ground with h = 1.70 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) (average eye-level height), the horizon is at a distance of 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles).

For an observer standing on the ground with h = 2 meters (6 feet, 7 inches), the horizon is at a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).

For an observer standing on a hill or tower of 100 meters (330 feet) in height, the horizon is at a distance of 36 kilometers (22 miles).
(see source at https://www.quora.com/When-I-look-out-into-the-ocean-how-far-away-is-the-horizon-How-much-of-the-ocean-can-I-actually-see)

Council, going forward let’s stick to the facts and not some wind blow rhetoric of puffy facts and figures that are used to bolster ones argument.

They argued strongly to Queen Isabella, thankfully Columbus prevailed. And so Neil Armstrong, confirming Columbus, must have thought as he looked from outer space to see the spherical orb called earth, “Wow, can’t see this back home.”

Mark Ferragamo

Bureaucratic Muscling


Once again, unelected bureaucrats make a major decision affecting the citizens of Ocean City. Last year FEMA completely blundered by misclassifying flood zones affecting dozens of ocean front high rises resulting in astronomical increases in the flood insurance for condo owners in those buildings.

Last week, the Maryland Public Service Commission ignored the input from the City Council and many citizens and decided that they (MPSC), know best in terms of locating how close the proposed wind farms should be built to the beach. Again, unelected bureaucrats made a major policy decision that ignored the citizens who they are supposed to work for and protect.

These are just two examples of how government has lost touch with the citizens of our country. It’s way past time to drastically cut the scope and size of these bureaucracies, both state and local, and make our ELECTED officials more involved and accountable. That’s why we elect them. Instead our elected representatives continue to delegate their responsibilities to faceless ever growing bureaucracies and their unelected bureaucrats who are never held responsible or accountable, no matter how arrogant or incompetent they are.

Eric Waterman

Ocean City

Budget Busting


What do the excessive 2018 Worcester County public education budget of $104,767,501, the Ocean City Council’s threats to sue the county for a $7 million differential, and Ocean City’s excessive budget expenditures in 2018 of about $128,000,000 (including enterprise funds) all have in common? These budget situations all demonstrate an inability to control expenses. In light of these failures, what can be done to avoid future insolvency?

Business as usual will not change the local trends toward future insolvency. We direly need leaders who think out of the box. Rehashing the old tired excuses for irresponsible spending will not do. Business as usual will cement higher future tax rates and further declines in our economic vibrancy to support future government revenues. We must break this cycle.

When the council takes out the credit card and spends down reserves to fund unnecessary increases in already bloated expenditures, it is as Mr. Gehrig said when he was stumping for election, “we have a failure of leadership.” So where are we six months from election? Expenses are up 7.9% from the 2016 budget. Although taxes have dropped a penny, it has not been reflected on the spending side. Spending has increased almost 4% each year in both the 2017 and 2018 budgets. Despite the warnings of Mr. Miller, Ms. Bennett and Ms. Knapp, the council has avoided the hard decisions of reducing expenditures by increasing borrowing and decreasing reserves that are used for current non-reserve spending, and has therefore condemned the city to higher taxes in the future.

Equally troubling, the Ocean City Council set aside $50,000 for future lawyer’s expenses and is actively threatening the county with a lawsuit if Ocean City is not paid $7 million for the alleged differential referred to above. Should they succeed, it is unclear if this money would be returned to taxpayers or go to support the council’s unbridled spending habit. The Ocean City Council’s insatiable spending addiction has devolved to extorting money from our county, whose finances arguably are also in trouble.

This all makes no sense. What can be done to control the spending by both the county and Ocean City, as well as Ocean City’s claim that the county provide compensation for duplicative services Ocean City has chosen to incur?

In my view, it all starts with controlling and reducing the runaway expense of public education. Lou Taylor, the new superintendent of schools, said at the annual budget request presentation: “It’s my feeling we do everything we can to keep kids safe.” Taylor goes on to say, “I believe that the success of our community is largely dependent on how successful our children are.” Let’s look at that.

A while back, I spent some time with Mr. Andes, former superintendent, and discovered that from 1970 through 2015 school spending has increased 300% above inflation. That means the inflation-adjusted expense should be around $38 million – not the present $104.8 million in this year’s budget. The county’s responsibility is $84.6 million. If the county returned half that difference, $46.6 million, or $23.3 million to revenues, it could reduce taxes and shore up their failed pension funds. Even with this giant expense, the kids appear to be worse off, not better, recently ranking 28 out of 32 on international test scores [PISA] for achievement and number one in out-of-classroom expenses. Worse yet, US families are not benefitting from this huge education expense. About 41.5% of Worcester families are broken, outside of marriage, and Worcester is the third worst County in heroin deaths in a state that is in the bottom quintile. Does this budget breaking education spending seem like it is achieving public safety and education, or merely lining the pockets of bureaucrats?

Although the county commissioners moan and groan that we have no leadership to date willing to fight this fight, two years ago I pledged to Harold Higgins, a man who is intimately aware of the budget shortfalls, that if the commissioners fight the sacred cow of education, I would join in the fight. Moreover, I offered to illustrate to the commissioners that the method for overall improvement in education could be brought about by restoring “In Loco Parentis” to the classroom teacher. Higgins has remained silent.

Once we are brave enough to have leadership in this fight, the final step is easy. We should move to eliminate duplication by combining the Ocean City government with the county. By allowing the Sheriff to take over responsibilities for the Ocean City police and the county and Ocean City governments to merge, we could achieve the result of a huge savings for the taxpayers. It would also increase voters who pay taxes. Currently only 5% of the taxpayers in Ocean City determine 100% of the expenditures, so most of the money has no vote, and the city is therefore more prone toward wasteful expenditures.

We could call this new entity the combined government of Ocean County. This combination to one government has precedents. In Jacksonville, Fla., in 1968, local leadership brought about the Jacksonville Consolidation. Today an elected sheriff oversees all police in Duval County. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue is responsible for all fire protection and rescue in Duval County. The 1968 Duval County-Jacksonville consolidation eliminated any type of separate county executive or legislature and supplanted those positions with the Mayor of Jacksonville and the City Council of Jacksonville. The importance of Jacksonville is not which political entity survived but that duplication was eliminated and the taxpayers were the big winners.

Yes, Mr. Gehrig you are right – what we have is “a failure of leadership.” However, I’m afraid that by your support for the increases in the 2018 budget, you have become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Tony Christ

Wind Has Tremendous Value On Energy Front


John Phillips’ letter of May 12 states a number of concerns about the proposed wind farm sites off shore from the Maryland coast.

My wife and I own a home in Ocean City, right on the ocean. We love our view, and are all for limiting visual obstructions.

But I believe the letter vastly understated the value of wind power. I don’t want to be one of the people fighting the needed movement in increasing its role as part of our energy strategy.

Despite the stated obstacles and claim that this source of energy is not viable, wind power is growing dramatically as a source of energy in the US. It now generates over 5% of our nation’s power.

The expressed concern for some environmental impacts doesn’t look at the overall environmental footprint of this technology. If you consider all potential sources of pollution throughout the life of all forms of energy, wind power ends up being among the most green sources, trailing only hydro power.

The concerns raised about effects on birds and aviation are real, but have been acknowledged and addressed for years, through advances in technology and in mitigation features.

We all no doubt want to protect the quality of our life on the coast and our property values. But we are all citizens of the US and this planet. The value of moving to a non-carbon based energy future is worth a bit of change in what we’re used to.

Terry Grogan

Ocean City