Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – November 8, 2019

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – November 8, 2019

When the Maryland General Assembly last year reversed the governor’s executive order requiring public school systems start after Labor Day, it was assumed most local decision makers would return to a pre-holiday start day. I actually predicted in this space Worcester would be the only school system in the state starting after Labor Day in 2020. I am glad I was wrong.

As opposed to the 11 school systems in Maryland who have already opted to start before the holiday, the Baltimore County school system will start Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. From news reports, it appears the decision was largely based on the fact many schools are not equipped with air conditioning and have been forced to close on severely hot days.

“August is the hottest month statically in the state of Maryland, so that was becoming a big factor, so with the post-Labor Day start, we’re safer moving away from the heat,” School Board Chair Kathleen Causey said to CBS Baltimore.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, a leading proponent of the “Let Summer Be Summer” program for several years, congratulated the school system on his Facebook page.

“They did it! Thanks to the Board of Education and the hard work of one of Maryland’s most respected educators, Jeffrey Freedman, the Baltimore County Public Schools will open AFTER Labor Day next year,” Franchot wrote. “A big win for children, families, teachers and small businesses. In Baltimore County, the locals have spoken – Let Summer be Summer.”

Freedman is a Baltimore County public school teacher who has worked with Franchot on the post-holiday start date, despite his school system’s administration opposing it. In a September press release he said, “As a teacher, I know starting school after Labor Day not only is economically beneficial to our communities, it is crucial to the professional development and well-being of teachers and administrators. Many teachers take coursework during the summer and need that time to complete that work while others value the time to unwind with their families and recharge. A post-Labor Day start helps us be the most successful, effective teachers we can be.”

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A common theme during last week’s strategic planning sessions in Ocean City was the need for more staff in public safety.

Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro put it like this. “I’ve asked for one additional officer for the last several years,” he said. “We haven’t been able to go beyond that for the last 10 years. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep the same level of protection and service.”

OC Fire Chief Richie Bowers said, “There was a fire two weeks ago uptown and for 13 minutes, we only had seven people there. Now, those seven people did a tremendous job until reinforcements arrived, but we have to do more from a fire-rescue perspective. Fire protection in the north end is at risk right now.”

These are major concerns. I think a possible solution to explore is removing some dollars from the city’s overly held reserve fund. The town’s policy is to maintain 15% of the general fund in reserves for emergencies. That’s a sound policy, but the city’s level is now at 28%, which as citizen Vince Gisriel wrote in a letter to the editor this week amounts to $9.6 million being withheld from operations unnecessarily.

If public safety is found to require more funds, there’s an obvious and appropriate place to look.

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There have been a growing number of instances recently when elected officials across the country have engaged in inappropriate social media discourses. In Berlin, there have been multiple instances this year when elected officials have engaged in back-and-forth rants with citizens over taxes and the chemical spill disaster in the park. This year, it was Ocean City Councilman Mark Paddack who became unhinged on a post about bikers on the H20 2019-20 Facebook page.

In the comment section, Paddack wrote, “Been there OC, Sturgis, Daytona and Myrtle Beach bike weeks. Yep combined over 25 times and never had an issue or; confronted authority figures. Adult motorcyclist that act like adults. Yep some problems created by POSs that feel entitled. Overall really great group of people motor cyclists and not because I own a Harley since 1994. As Americans par for the course. Nothing is perfect. Far more of law abiding adults at those motorcycle events that span over a month in each location except Ocean City. You would know if you had life experience and developed some wisdom. Just saying. Not four days of immature acts of adult children showing their asses without pulling their pants down. Stupidity based on the numbers, prepare your self according and don’t whine. You are adults responsible for your actions. Grow up, follow the rules and respect the community. That simple. Those are the facts. End of Story.”

While Paddack is not wrong in my opinion, this is the kind of talk that’s not needed to appropriately handle this group of disorderly individuals, especially from an elected official. Screen shots of Paddack’s comments are now trending on Twitter and Instagram with emojis of him 20 years ago compared to today.

In other news, this group has confirmed on its Facebook page it will be returning the same weekend as Sunfest next year.