OC Should Prep For Another Court Battle
Once again the Ocean City Council will be heading to a Federal District Court to defend one of its ordinances. On June 10, 2017 at a special meeting of the City Council, an ordinance was approved to prevent women from going topless on the Ocean City beach. On June 14, 2017, attorneys at the Maryland Attorney General Office issued an advisory letter that basically validated the Council’s actions.
Unfortunately, between those two dates the United States Supreme Court issued a June 12, 2017 opinion in Sessions, Attorney General v. Moralessantana. This case found gender discrimination to be unconstitutional. This opinion, written by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who writes most opinions of the Court concerning gender discrimination, stated that in all gender-based classifications, the Government must show that its gender-based classification serves important governmental objectives. More importantly, Justice Ginsburg went on to say that the gender classification must serve an important governmental interest in today’s world because “new insights and societal understandings can reveal unjustified inequality…that once passed unnoticed and unchallenged.”
I believe that “family resort” argument of the Ocean City Government will not be found to be a valid reason for the gender discrimination concerning male and female breasts. The one Ocean City resident who appeared before the Ocean City Council on June 10, 2017 made a statement that could be highly detrimental to Ocean City’s argument that gender discrimination is needed to protect Ocean City’s “family resort” image. The 70-year-old witness, who supported the ordinance, told the Council that she had a son-in-law who is a police sergeant in a law enforcement organization. She went on to say that in regard to the past and present Ocean City activities, “True, there were problems but nothing like now. I am almost afraid and I have been cautioned by my son-in-law and my daughter not to go to the boardwalk by myself.”
Also, the Council did not consider what could be viewed as reasonable alternatives to the blanket ban preventing topless women on the beach. For example, certain areas of the beach could be designated topless areas. This would be similar to the council designating certain areas of the beach that are limited to surfing activities. Of course, many old timers will also remember the early 1900s Ocean City law prohibiting men from being topless on the Boardwalk during the evening hours. This was eventually repealed to reflect what Justice Ginsburg called “new insights and societal understandings.”
This witness’s statement made at the public Council meeting where the topless ordinance was passed raises a serious question as to whether Ocean City is really the family resort that the Council is using to support the gender discrimination between men’s and women’s breasts. In addition, the Council did not consider reasonable alternatives to the topless issue. Based on past opinions of Justice Ginsburg, I believe it is likely that the federal courts will find the current Ocean City topless ordinance to be unconstitutional.
Wor-Wic Could Save Money On Energy Use
In the June 9 edition of The Dispatch, I noticed an article regarding the appropriation by Wicomico County officials to transfer $212,400 “in contingences” to Wor-Wic Community College, and with that generous donation the college collected $600,000 from Wicomico and Worcester counties.
It went on to note the efforts officials have gone through to cut its deficit of $1.3 million. One thing that I’ve noticed every time I drive past the college at night between midnight and 3 a.m. is that every building is lit up like a Christmas tree and every light in the parking lots is brightly shining. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one or two cars in the lots at that time of night. Seems like they could find a way to reduce some of this wasted energy — and its cost — and use more of the tax paying public’s dollars doing what they’re supposed to be doing — educating our young people.
Who audits these expenses?
West Ocean City
It is with sincere gratitude and adoration that I write this letter commending Dr. Paul, all of the nurses and the entire staff at Atlantic General Hospital’s Regional Cancer Care Center. Their compassion and professionalism making my husband, Billy Reeves, comfortable every step of the way meant the world to us.
Not only did they give outstanding care to him while he received chemotherapy, they always expressed a heartfelt concern for me and our entire family. They consistently explained every procedure in detail without rushing and were extremely patient when I had questions. They treated us like we were the only ones who needed attention when we knew that most certainly was not the case. Throughout the years my husband received treatments, someone was always available when I needed something, anything – no matter how big or small. They were prompt with returning phone calls and very helpful to assist when other measures needed to be taken. The entire staff became like family to us.
When the end became inevitable, the nurses and staff continued to check in offering help, prayers, and guidance. There is something to be said about the care and compassion from a small community hospital. May God bless each and every one of you. You are truly angels here on Earth and I cannot begin to thank you for all you did for me and my husband during this very difficult journey. You are unsung heroes that I will always hold close to my heart.
Seismic Testing Proposal Needs More Attention
A number of Ocean City property owners have recently expressed concern that wind turbines off the coast may reduce their home values because some might find the view on the horizon offensive. However, there is a much larger issue that coastal residents need to be concerned about if they want to maintain their lifestyle and investment in our area.
The federal government is now taking the first steps to approve seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast. This begins the process which lays the foundation for oil drilling off our shoreline. Seismic testing for offshore wind farms is different from the testing for oil reserves in that it does not require the use of seismic air guns, the area spanned is much smaller, and less sound energy is needed since they only have to penetrate a few yards as opposed to the miles penetrated into the seabed when searching for oil reserves. The air guns needed for oil exploration send blasts of sound as louder than a 747 at take off every ten seconds for weeks on end and could result in permanent damage to our marine environment.
Many of us remember the horrendous loss of life and the financial and ecological devastation that ravaged gulf coast residents and businesses after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010. If a malfunction, extreme weather event, or a deliberate attack on our infrastructure occurred to a windmill, it would not have the same effect of destroying a community like the damage to an oil rig would cause.
Let’s put the interests of coastal community residents first and send your comments in opposition to seismic testing to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org. by July 6th. In addition, please call your federal, state, and local officials and ask that they protect your investment in our area by only supporting the development of safe energy resources and not ones that put our community, businesses, and lifestyles at risk.
To learn more about offshore drilling there will be an informational meeting about seismic air gun testing and Atlantic offshore drilling development at 6 p.m. on Thursday June 29 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center hosted by the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Oceana and Assateague Coastal Trust.
Information about the meeting can be found at www.ACTforBays.org.