State’s Attorney’s Recap
Dear citizens of Worcester County, Happy New Year! One year ago, I was sworn in as your State’s Attorney and since that time, I have relished the opportunity to advance the cause of justice in our county. As our dedicated team at the Office of the State’s Attorney begins tackling the challenges of this new year with determination and spirit, I am pleased to provide you with this brief review of our progress, and to outline for you our continued priorities moving forward.
During 2019, our community prosecutors partnered more closely than ever before with state and local agencies to ensure that vulnerable victims, whether children or adults, receive necessary care and services to aid in recovery and prevent further victimization. We announced the creation of the Vulnerable Adult Task Force to assist our senior citizens and have raised awareness about home contractor fraud and telemarketing scams at various senior living expos and financial exploitation forums. On behalf of children, we have worked collaboratively with law enforcement and the Board of Education to establish school threat assessment protocols that will help keep our kids safer at school and make sure police are immediately notified about all criminal behavior. We have also assigned an experienced prosecutor to handle all cases involving juvenile offenders, to ensure the unique challenges facing our youth are acknowledged and addressed consistently, for the betterment of our communities.
While our specialized units work in areas of child and vulnerable adult advocacy, our drug prosecutors and drug treatment court team have been busy making sure that those suffering from addiction receive treatment, while those dealing drugs receive prison time. We were vocal in our support of Worcester County’s application for designation as a drug trafficking area, which now allows our police access to much-needed funding for opioid initiatives and enforcement actions. We have also coordinated with law enforcement in surrounding jurisdictions to ensure a strategic approach to stopping the flow of opioids into Worcester County, and have disrupted and dismantled drug trafficking organizations as a result.
Finally, we continue to engage as community prosecutors and to participate in multi-disciplinary approaches to the crime problems facing our community. Many times, crime is a symptom of a larger issue – frequently addiction or mental illness. Working with other disciplines has allowed us to better identify the underlying causes of certain crime and to develop systems to eliminate those causes, which in turn reduces crime. With this in mind, we have successfully partnered with the Health Department on creative initiatives such as the Homeless Outreach Team and Safe Stations and have seen positive results. Together with you and our community partners, we will continue to keep Worcester County winning in the fight against crime and make a real difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in our important mission. While there is always more work to be done, I am beyond grateful for the endless commitment, dedication and grit of our entire team at the Office of the State’s Attorney, and I am proud to work alongside them in serving you.
Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and safe new year.
Board Disputes Article
We, as the Board of Directors of the Ocean Place Condominium Association, wish to comment on the Jan. 1, 2020, article in your newspaper entitled “North Ocean City Condo Owners Continue Dispute; Mounting Legal Fees Worry Board”. Apparently, no one at your newspaper thought to check the “facts” or get a comment from any of our board members before printing this. This is journalism at its worst. This is the one-sided point of view of one disgruntled owner who has been harassing us and other owners for months with false and misleading accusations. We would like to set the record straight.
In October 2018, we had our annual owners’ meeting, wherein we further discussed the deterioration of our building and the need for a restoration project. In November 2018, we asked owners to approve or not to approve going forward with the project. Our by-laws allow us to proceed without a vote, but we took the votes nevertheless because the board did not want the sole responsibility of deciding this without the input of all owners. The majority of the owners approved the go ahead for the project. Sixty percent wanted to go forward, 10 percent did not vote at all, and the remaining 30 percent voiced differing opinions including postponing it for a few years, or not doing anything at all. The votes were verified by the Maryland Attorney General. Yet Ms. Gundling persists in saying that the board approved the project without the owners’ knowledge. They voted for it so doesn’t that mean they knew about it. After the restoration projects’ approval in November 2018, three owners (she refers to them as a “group”) who had voted “no” filed a mediation complaint with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office in an effort to stop the project from proceeding. They were unsuccessful and the project is currently moving along. Somewhere along the way, Ms. Gundling inserted herself into the complaint, as she was not one of the original complainants.
The project does not include anything that it did not include from the very beginning, so costs have not gone up because of extras, as Ms. Gundling contends. To do the EIFS involves removing windows in the two- and three-bedroom oceanfront units to wrap the EIFS and flashing around the frame of the window, making the opening smaller and thus necessitating a new replacement window. It also requires removing railings on balconies. Once the railings are removed, new ones are necessary as the old ones do not meet current code, plus they are going on 37 years old. The balcony dividers are attached to the railings and come as a unit. Everything is intertwined with everything else, so in order to do it right, it must all be done at the same time. No landscaping or other add-ons exist that she claims are driving up the price. The price was and is the same as it was from the very beginning and what the owners voted on. This is a massive undertaking which we understand many other oceanfront buildings the age of ours have had to undergo as well. Most of our owners are very excited about the project and can hardly wait to see it completed.
Ms. Gundling has complained about everything we do or don’t do. She has contacted many entities in Ocean City with her many complaints in her attempts to get anyone on her side and to undermine the board. In each attempt, she has hit a brick wall. She also failed to mention that her husband was a past board member for 10-plus years and she never complained then about what she now finds so objectionable. Ms. Gundling frequently complains to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. When she does, her complaints are forwarded from the Attorney General’s Office to our attorney’s office for him to respond. None of us are attorneys, nor do we know all the laws, so we cannot work with the Attorney General’s Office without his advice. In responding to her complaints, in 2019 alone it has cost the association (thereby all owners) thousands of dollars in legal fees. We have asked her to stop wasting all our money, but she has ignored us. Through all these complaints, the board has not been found to have done anything wrong, yet her complaints continue. We have not threatened her, we have certainly not urged owners to “take action” against her – it is ridiculous for her to even suggest such a thing. We have only asked owners to let us hear from them and let their voices be heard on this matter, as we wanted to know how owners felt about this continued waste of everyone’s money.
By your publication of this article, you are only enabling her in her continuing libeling of the board and in what she describes as her “crusade.” We have yet to learn from her what she is “crusading” for, but maybe someday she will let us know.
If you were a big city newspaper with a large readership, I dare say the reporter on this story would most likely be fired. We ask instead that you either print a retraction with an apology or that you print the truth as we have explained it to you. In this age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” what you have done is totally irresponsible. You have basically defamed our board and trashed the good name of Ocean Place by aiding a woman who seems to have a personal vendetta against us. This without so much as checking a single fact. This is how journalists get a bad name and people distrust what they hear or read. You have made her sound like some kind of hero for taking us on when the truth is to the contrary. She has harassed us and the majority of owners with a barrage of unsolicited e-mails to the point where owners have practically begged us to do something to get her to stop. She will not listen to, nor is she interested in the facts, and defies our attorney’s continued attempts to stop her from harassing us. If anything, we are the ones being threatened and bullied. You should be ashamed.
We did not wish to make this controversy public, but you and Ms. Gundling have taken that decision out of our hands. We have no other choice now but to respond.
When we sent our response to you on Jan. 3, we were under the impression that you got this information directly from Lisa Gundling. We have since learned that it came from court documents from her numerous complaints. We do not know whether she initiated contact with you and she directed you to these documents or you did this on your own, but regardless, it is still her statements and you still printed it without bothering to get any comments from our board.
In this week’s edition of OC Today, you will find the following, written with input from our attorney. The Board in the past has sat silently hoping that Ms. Gundling’s activities and aggressive speech would cease once the Attorney General’s office found no fault with the Association’s actions. However, even though the Association has done nothing wrong and all allegations by Ms. Gundling have been deemed meritless, Ms. Gundling continues to send factually incorrect communication to owners, the media or anyone else that will listen. As a result, the Association is no longer willing to remain silent and act as a punching bag. It is now speaking out to its owners and the media to set the record straight and explain that Ms. Gundling does not speak for the majority of owners. Instead, the majority of owners are in support of the actions undertaken by the Board.
The Ocean Place Condominium Association Board of Directors