Transparency Issues Continue
On Tuesday, June 23, the Ocean City Council voted to go into closed session. One of the topics reported on the Notice of Closed Session form was “Open Meetings Act.” The reason provided was “To discuss recent OMCB (Open Meetings Compliance Board) Opinion and legal directives moving forward.” Prior to the actual vote, I addressed the council. I voiced my strong objection to going into closed session to discuss the Open Meetings Act and the recent opinion of the Compliance Board. I stated that I found it ironic that they would consider going to a closed session to discuss an Open Meetings Act matter, particularly since the recent opinion was now public record.
I quoted from page 6 of the Compliance Board’s Opinion, dated June 3, 2020, citing a 1993 opinion which reads, “the mere fact that an issue has legal ramifications does not mean that the public body may discuss it in closed session.” In spite of my formal objection, the four members of the council in attendance, voted to go into closed Session on the matter after seeking legal advice from the city solicitor.
We continue to have transparency issues in our local governing body. The recent opinion also reads in part on page 10, “…we see no indication in the submissions that the council members appreciated, each time they voted to exclude the public from discussions about the city pier franchise and the use of that property, that the council members themselves were accountable for the action they took to exclude the public from those discussions.”
When the work session reconvened in open session, I repeated my objection, and quoted from the board’s opinion, “Finally, we encourage the council to provide the public with minutes of the portions of the closed sessions from which the public was excluded in violation of the Act.” I asked the council president if those minutes would be released. He did not give me a direct answer, only that he would work with the city solicitor.
I continue to see a cavalier attitude among our elected officials, when it comes to important matters that should be out in full public view.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Hate Acts Intolerable
It is hard to believe we live in a community where recent KKK-related print materials were left in driveways of local residents of Berlin, Ocean Pines and West Ocean City.
This is an affront, not just to those who received these hate-filled, scare-mongering missives, but to all of us who live in this area and call it home.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the hatred being directed to our fellow citizens. We must stand united and stand up for the rights of all. We must speak out against injustice when we see it, hear it, encounter it, whether it is overt or subtle.
We encourage everyone who believes in respect, kindness, honor and integrity to reach out to our community police, sheriff departments and county commissioners. Demand that they ensure action is taken to uncover who and what organizations have taken it upon themselves to sow seeds of hatred, fear, ignorance and upheaval into our lives and our neighbors’. Follow up with them.
Do not remain silent. As German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller so movingly expressed it in 1946 after World War II. “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Ann and Bob Augustine
Atlantic General Hospital is blessed to be located in the midst of a community of amazing, thoughtful, caring people. We are overcome by the ongoing generosity of our neighbors who are supporting the efforts of our AGH caregivers by donating goods, supplies, and hope to fuel our bodies and our souls. On behalf of everyone in our Atlantic General Hospital and Health System family, I would like to thank our entire community for the outpouring of support through donations and kind words over the past several months. I am astounded by the strength and character of our community, when it is faced with adversity like we have faced over the past few months.
As our clinicians and ancillary staff continue to work selflessly around the clock to provide care to our patients, we have been awed by the support from family and friends, neighbors and strangers, local businesses and organizations, schools, churches and supporters from all walks of life who see AGH and all of our associates as vital members of the community.
These acts of kindness – donations of food, supplies, and “thank you” messages – mean more to us than you’ll ever know. It is that gratitude and support from so many in our community that has helped us keep going through this trying time. We are re-energized every shift, day and night, when we see the gestures of support and encouragement. We will never get to thank each and every person, but please know you we are grateful for your kindness and compassion.
Due to the abundance of individuals, businesses, civic organizations, schools and places of worship that have reached out, it is impossible to list all of you here. We do however want to recognize and thank each and every one of you. To do that we have created a donor page that list all who have reached out through our development department or COVID-19 relief efforts in support of our caregivers during these difficult times. That page can be found at www.agh.care/thanks.
Please note that the donors listed on our website called our Foundation office directly or utilized our COVID-19 Relief Fund form. If you have donated to the hospital through a specific department or individual and do not see your name or business, please contact Caroline Phillips at 410-641-9690. We want to be sure we acknowledge and thank you.
Again, I believe I speak for all our AGH caregivers when I say we are absolutely humbled by the continued generosity we receive each and every day. It demonstrates the strength and resilience we have together as a community, and we are grateful to be a part of it.
Michael A. Franklin
(The writer is the president and CEO
of Atlantic General Hospital.)
Offshore Wind Support
Maryland’s Public Service Commission held a noteworthy hearing June 4-5 that underscored how offshore wind energy could help the Eastern Shore recover from today’s economic challenges.
I watched the virtual hearing online. I am a small business owner in Salisbury, and I am more convinced than ever that Maryland should proceed without delay on offshore wind development.
With 700,000 Marylanders filing for unemployment since March, offshore wind developers are among the few Maryland employers publicly committed to creating local jobs. Ørsted and US Wind are required by Maryland to create 9,700 jobs and nearly $2 billion in state investment in Maryland as they develop their two projects. They are also required to establish operations and maintenance facilities in the Ocean City area, ensuring that a region hard hit by COVID-19 gets good-paying full-time jobs over the 25 year life cycle of the projects.
My Salisbury-based company, ARCON Training Center, has already signed an agreement to create the Mid-Atlantic’s first offshore wind jobs training center. If offshore wind moves forward without delay, we will put more local more residents to work on welding, fabricating, and other trades at a time of severe economic disruption.
I also learned from the hearing that research shows how offshore wind and tourism can co-exist, and even benefit one another. A University of Rhode Island study examined Block Island tourism after wind turbines were placed nearly 4 miles off the island’s coast in 2017. The study found that offshore wind, “has had a positive effect on tourism.” Airbnb bookings increased, boat captains saw increased business, and recreational fisherman flocked to the turbines. Maryland’s offshore wind turbines would be roughly 22 miles offshore.
The hearing also featured research from Bellwether Research that found that nearly all (86%) Ocean City vacationers say they would continue to vacation in Ocean City if there were wind turbines off the coast.
Lastly, the two projects currently under development in Maryland will mean hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses will be powered by renewable, carbon-free energy.
The Town of Ocean City is right to ask questions about offshore wind. Fortunately, the Public Service Commission hearing showed that offshore turbines and tourism can benefit each other. Equally important, offshore wind means small businesses like mine can put more Marylanders to work at a time that we sorely need it.
I encourage Maryland to move forward with offshore wind without delay.
(The writer is the president & CEO of ARCON Training Center in Salisbury, Maryland.)