Remembering Gene Parker
In the fall of 1985, Chase Manhattan Bank purchased Merritt Savings & Loan that owned several assets in Worcester County — hundreds of acres of vacant land in Ocean Pines including a whole section zoned for mobile homes, the sewer company that serviced Ocean Pines, the vacant land at 120th Street called Heron Harbor and the final phase of Montego Bay at 130th Street that comprised almost all of the bulk headed lots. All assets sat idle ensnarled in litigation and approval problems.
Chase sent two people to Worcester County to figure it out — Ed Moran, a seasoned veteran of significant bank workouts and me, an eager 25-year-old that knew nothing. Ed took the Ocean Pines mess and I took the other two. Through a friend of a friend, I was given the telephone number of a local, Gene Parker. “Show me what you got kid,” Gene said after shaking my hand. “And talk into this ear,” he said. ”Can’t hear out of the other one.”
We drove the failing bulkhead lots of Montego Bay. Sitting in his car looking through the windshield at the vacant land, Gene advised: “Every day, go to the Greene Turtle and sit at the bar at 5 p.m. The key guy at the Army Corp goes there after work when he is in town. You will know him, because he puts ice in his beer. Get to know him. Nice guy. Restores antique decoys as a hobby. He will tell you how to solve Montego Bay.” I did. He did. “Keep the inner lagoon tidal via a culvert and build up an island of local grasses,“ he said abd 130 lots were approved. We presold most of them.
For the first time ever, Chase started construction of a project from scratch. The vice chairman of the bank flew in from New York to see it. “How did you do this?” he asked. “Gene Parker,” I said.
“Show me Heron Harbor,” Gene said. A huge horseshoe of land all zoned for condos that were not selling in the first building in an over built condo market. “This will take you decades to build and sell out. Go the other way,” Gene said. “Single family lots. There aren’t any more on the island.” The city did back flips over the down zoning to single family. We crushed it. Builders and subcontractor trucks everywhere. Gene Parker.
Gene agreed with Ed Moran that success at Ocean Pines was dependent on selling the sewer plant to the county and giving up the mobile home zoning or the home owners would fight us forever. But Ed went further, saying, “We’re from New York. They will eat us for lunch – it’s how local politics work everywhere. We need to get contract zoning so they won’t change the rest of it after the deal. Can’t get that locally. I have to go to Annapolis.” Gene replied, “I’ll make some calls.” He did. Ed did. A giant piece of the local economy unlocked.
We never paid Gene a dime. And he never asked. He knew the local economy was stymied by these stalled large assets. He almost single handedly throttled it forward. Three huge successes. Gene Parker. All in for Worcester County and Ocean City. And my bet is no one ever knew.
Rest in peace my friend. You served your community well.
Ignorance On Display
Part One: I’m not going to sugar coat this statement. A certain family I believe are very two-faced individuals. In my opinion. Why? First their daughter Frankie attacked my family on multiple occasions, including my son Gavin who is 2 years old, When I confronted with a response, she had a police officer show up at my door the next morning with a verbal cease and desist order. First if my name or my family is brought up or spoken out of anyone’s mouth, especially City Council members and/or their families mouth. It’s the not first-time city council members have abused their power by going after members of the community.
I’m going to respond in defense every time. I made it very clear to former Councilwoman Mary Knight at the city council meeting on Nov. 2 that if you’re going to spy or speak about my family, I’m going to respond back with respect and ignorance. How can the Ocean City community really vote for someone that runs their mouth about a community member’s family, but expects the victim to back down?
Everyone wants to use the law to protect them when they run their mouths. I have photos that clearly show the selfish ignorance of their daughter. This is my message to all City Council members. Attack me, poke me like a bear, call me whatever you want, but leave my damn family out of your mouths. No wonder nothing gets done in this town, the hamster’s wheel keeps going around and around.
Part Two: My response to Scott Chismar’s statement in the letters to the editor section on Nov. 6.
Frankly I don’t care about your opinion or statements. Just like the others you hide behind the media to speak your words.
I am a very direct individual. If you got something to say to me, I’m sure you can find my phone number somewhere. My beliefs don’t ever change because someone financially endorses me.
Remember these words – I keep my enemies closer than I do my friends.
My final statement to Mr. Chismar: The greatest talent I have is that I’m a very good chess player and I know my opponent’s moves before he makes them. Let that sink in. I understand it might take you a little time to think about that. I will look forward to your response. Good day Mr Chismar.
Fenwick In Trouble
Fenwick Island, the quiet beach town we love, is being systematically destroyed by “Mayor” Gene Langan. Mr. Langan, along with a handful of his crony council and special interest committee members, have undergone a wholesale sellout of the Town of Fenwick Island and, consequently, its long standing residents. Most brazen is Mr. Langan’s willingness to openly and unabashedly advocate for special interests that are otherwise wildly unpopular with town residents.
For example, take his lack of transparency (e.g., secret meetings) with DNREC in connection with DNREC’s proposal to develop and, resultantly, destroy unprotected wetlands in Fenwick Island State Park. Mr. Langan’s unwillingness to challenge DNREC or its for profit development partner was tantamount to tacit approval. Of course, Mr. Langan was, however, quite willing to use the Fenwick Island police as his personal gestapo to harass citizens who were brave enough to speak out against this wetland destruction.
Then, of course, there is Mr. Langan’s blatantly ignoring long standing town codes and ordinances in furtherance of enriching developers, e.g., his rubber stamping noisy outdoor bars that are strictly and unequivocally prohibited by town code. This disregard of long-standing ordinances will certainly have a negative impact on the community and the taxpayers the mayor purports to represent, while, concurrently and not surprisingly, greatly benefit the special interests, e.g., the developers.
Given his blatant disregard for these ordinances and the overwhelming outcry by his constituents against his actions, you have to wonder what interest Mr. Langan has in these projects.
To insulate himself from standard conflict of interest due diligence, Mr. Langan has packed committees designed to advise the Mayor and Council with friendly family members and other individuals with an interest in changing long standing ordinances designed to protect the character of Fenwick Island for personal financial gain.
Under the Gene Lagan regime, if you have a lucrative business deal to discuss with the mayor you have his ear and time, but if you are a tax paying resident you might get two minutes to voice your opinions at a town council meeting. That said, recently given resident dissent to his authoritarian decision making, Mr. Langan decided to eliminate public participation at the advice of one of his “business partners.”
The Borner Family
Plastic Bag Ban Support
In January of this year, the Plastic Bag Reduction Act was poised to pass the Maryland General Assembly with widespread public support. The bill will soon be back on the table following a shortened 2020 session. With new evidence from Oceana showing plastic bags choking and entangling marine animals, the state legislature must move quickly to ban them.
Plastic production is projected to quadruple by 2050. Unless states like Maryland move quickly to ban additional forms of single-use plastic, the amount of plastic entering the ocean could triple by 2040. While the ocean’s future is uncertain, we see bags and other single-use plastics choking ocean life right now. A new report from Oceana revealed that nearly 1,800 marine mammals and sea turtles had swallowed or become entangled in plastic along American coastlines. Of those, 88% were from species endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act.
The plastics problem seems overwhelming, but Oceana’s report clearly names plastic bags as a top threat. Plastic bags were found entangling and being consumed by animals in 80 cases, some of which were species that frequent Maryland waters. Just this year in Virginia, a dead minke whale was found with a plastic bag in its stomach, though it is unclear if or how the bag contributed to its fate. While many cases go unobserved, we know that just one piece of plastic can be deadly.
We don’t need more plastic bags and microplastics polluting the Chesapeake Bay, and we don’t need more dolphins and whales washing up on our beaches. Maryland must protect its iconic marine life. Let’s ask Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson to pass the Plastic Bag Reduction Act in 2021. The sea turtles and marine mammals choking on plastic cannot wait.
(The writer is the Mid Atlantic Field Campaigns Fellow with Oceana.)