In a veiled threat to not vote for a proposed room tax increase this spring, Worcester County Commissioner Josh Nordstrom was playing politics. It was obvious and he’s fine with everyone knowing it.
Nordstrom was most likely never going to vote against raising the room tax from 4.5% to 5% — an 11% percent increase – despite some tough talk back in May. Nordstrom was clear he abstained from voting on the enabling legislation on the room tax hike because he feels his southern district was shafted by his fellow commissioners at budget time. His abstention was huge at the time because the room tax increase resolution would require an unanimous vote by the commissioners to pass and become effective Jan. 1, 2020.
“I don’t believe that is the way to move forward, so I have to do things like abstain to get a little attention. … It’s politics. It’s ugly and it’s kind of silly at times but I only have so many cards to play,” the first-year commissioner said in May. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any attention from the county. I felt it was important to make some people listen.”
It seems today Nordstrom’s play was never truly taken seriously in the county seat or in Ocean City. There seemed to always be a plan to compromise with Nordstrom for his vote on the room tax. Though we don’t know what transpired at this time, it’s clear Nordstrom was thrown a bone of some sort to join his colleagues on the vote. One of his priority funding requests was to get Pocomoke a slice of the casino kickback dollars. My guess would be that was not the concession made by the commissioners to get him to vote for the room tax increase, however.
No matter what transpired behind closed doors, it was fun to watch the charade play out this week in Snow Hill. A public hearing was held on the room tax increase on Tuesday featuring two speakers in opposition and two in favor. The commissioners then voted 7-0 with little comment. Nordstrom was conspicuously silent at the meeting after the vote, seemingly because he didn’t want to jeopardize the funding he secured for his district for his affirmative vote.
What exactly was thrown his way in exchange for his vote will become clear next month evidently. It was a savvy political play by the newcomer.
Of all the events in Ocean City, an argument could be made Ocean City Jeep Week is the best timed.
With most colleges back in session and many elementary and secondary schools in the mid-Atlantic headed back next week, Jeep weekend keeps the Ocean City marketplace abuzz with tourists, no matter what the weather forecasts looks like ahead of time. Prior to the Jeep event being held the weekend before the Labor Day holiday, it was common for this weekend to be light, especially if beach weather was not in the forecast. That’s not the case nowadays.
In an effort to determine how big Ocean City Jeep Week is for local businesses, I asked six operators of hotels, restaurants, convenience stores and retail stores their opinions. The consensus seemed to be it’s not as big of a draw and impact on sales as the spring Cruisin’ and fall Bike Week, but it’s close and appears to be growing in popularity. All agreed it’s perfectly timed for late August and should always stay this weekend because it brings a reliable boost in business each year.
Stressing the importance of mortality is critical with teenagers. That’s why the message articulated brilliantly by Timothy Alexander was so important for student athletes to hear this week.
As part of Worcester County Public Schools’ inaugural Rise Up Huddle event Monday, Timothy Alexander addressed high school athletes as they kicked off their fall sports practices. Alexander shared his inspiring life’s story with those in attendance. Alexander was on the top of the world one day until his entire life changed in an instance.
Alexander grew up in Birmingham, Ala. and was the eighth ranked high school player in the football-rich state in 2006 when he was paralyzed in a car accident. The accident led to mental health issues and three attempts to take his own life, while having to relearn how to read and write. “I went from walking one day to rolling the next,” he said.
Armed with the support of his family, friends and medical team, Alexander changed his outlook on look. He finished high school and ended up receiving two degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in criminal justice and communication management. He then received a master’s degree in communication management from the same university.
“When I focused on what I couldn’t do, it caused my life to go downhill,” he said. “But when I started focusing on what I could do, my life began going up.”
The school system and the sponsors who brought this event to Worcester County should make it an annual event. Providing young minds with inspiration while also reminding them how fragile life can be is a worthwhile exercise.