A few months back, it was looking as if the days were numbered for Ocean City’s ice cream truck franchise – officially known as the vehicle vending franchise in the city code. This is the roving truck operated by the high school or college student, typically, ringing the bell from the dunes or boards calling attention to beach-goers who want a cold treat on a hot day. That ringing of the bells often leads to young kids doing the hot sand dance to the truck, but the popularity of the franchise has cleared waned over the last decade.
Therefore, it was surprising to hear the town’s current franchise holder actually increased its bid for the next four years. The winning bid was for $38,000 per year, which is slightly above the previous contract.
There were initial concerns whether any bids at all would come in for this franchise. Score it a win for City Hall that it received a legitimate bid from an experienced operator.
It’s looking more and more like the House of Delegates in Annapolis will follow the Senate’s lead and pass legislation overturning Gov. Larry Hogan’s mandate for public schools to open after Labor Day. The votes are falling on party lines and the Democrats clearly are trying to remind Hogan who is the boss in Maryland when it comes to the legislation. What’s unknown is why this bill has been specifically targeted.
While there’s no question which party controls the state, Hogan is as stubborn on this matter as his colleges on the left. The second term governor continues to hammer home a salient point – the majority of Marylanders want schools to start after Labor Day. He maintains that’s a fact and polls support it as well as a task force of stakeholders.
“This common-sense policy has always had broad, bipartisan support. The legislature voted nearly unanimously to study the issue, and their task force made up of legislators, education experts, teachers, and parents voted in favor of starting school after Labor Day by a 12-3 majority,” he said on his Facebook page Tuesday.
Last week, he said, “Let me also be clear. If their bill passes without giving local citizens control, there will be a petition to referendum. It will get the required number of signatures from one corner of the state to the other. It will be placed on the ballot and there is a 100-percent chance that the voters will overturn any action by the legislature with more than 70 percent of the vote and school after Labor Day will remain the law in this state.”
This issue has simply become a political hot potato and has nothing to do with restoring local control to the school systems, as the Democrats would like to maintain. It’s all about trying to put Hogan in his place.
A ruling by the New Hampshire Supreme Court upholding an indecent exposure conviction got some attention this week.
In 2016, three topless women were arrested and charged with indecent exposure on the beach in Laconia, N.H. when they took off their tops. Town law bans nudity and specifically prohibits the “showing of female breasts with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple.” In agreeing with the lower court, the high court opined, “we have found that the ordinance does not violate the defendants’ constitutional rights to equal protection or freedom of speech under the state and federal constitutions. As such, it does not unduly restrict the defendants’ fundamental rights.” In the wake of the ruling, the attorney representing the three women intends to ask the New Hampshire legislature to address “this unequal and unfair treatment.” I seriously doubt the legislature will take up this measure.
The recent ruling could be one example a U.S. District Court judge needs to confirm Ocean City’s position that a majority of people still believe topless women walking on the beach or Boardwalk is indecent and that it’s not a constitutional violation for men to go shirtless where women cannot.
In other news, there is a tremendous nationwide buzz about the new film “The Biggest Little Farm,” and it’s particularly exciting because there are local ties to the film. Stephen Decatur High graduates John Chester and Erica Cramer Messer collaborated on the film more than 20 years after they worked together on the low-budget, or no-budget, OC Live weekly news show that aired in the summer. Locals will get a chance to see the movie at the Ocean City Film Festival on March 9 at the Ocean City Performing Arts Center.
The film has already been picked up by the Neon company, which was behind the hit “I, Tonya” last year. If you haven’t already, check out the trailer by simply entering “The Biggest Little Farm” trailer in an online search. It’s going to be the talk of the movie industry soon enough as it’s receiving glowing early reviews. The Boston Globe recently wrote, “Captivating, and possibly most life-affirming thing ever produced in Southern California… this movie is like 91 minutes of the best kind of church. It’s food for the soul.”