Ocean City’s decision to bring Tom Perlozzo back as the newly created department director is intriguing on many levels. Word Perlozzo was in the running leaked out last month, resulting in an assumption the position was essentially created for him. Once he was confirmed as a finalist against a far inferior candidate, it was clear he would be the choice because the players in control at City Hall wanted someone they were familiar with as well as possessed an understanding and passion for Ocean City. As a former recreation and parks director for the resort (1985-1998) who was integral in shaping the area into a regional golf destination, Perlozzo clearly fits the mold.
Rather than focus on how this process seemed slanted toward Perlozzo all along, let’s take a look at how the hiring impacts the futures of Ocean City and Worcester County governments. For Ocean City, Perlozzo should be slide smoothly into steering a sales team in bringing new convention business and other opportunities to the resort area. It’s clear this person is charged with putting heads in beds in the middle of the week during the summer months and beefing up the shoulder seasons no matter the weather. The job description for the Director of Tourism and Business Development position read in part, “The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop and execute comprehensive short and long-term plans to attract visitors, special events, trade shows, and sports tourism that promote Ocean City. This person will be the ‘quarterback’ for the sales efforts of multiple Town departments including the Convention Center, Marketing and Special Events. This position will be directly accountable for increasing year-round room stays, mid-week room stays and attracting groups, sports teams and events which reflect the values of Ocean City …” To be certain, this is going to be a major undertaking. The city went with what it knows in Perlozzo because they are confident he can affect a change sooner rather than later.
On the county level, when Perlozzo took the job with the county as director of recreation and parks and later added to the title with tourism and economic development falling under his domain, it was believed developing a sports complex in the county was a goal. It never materialized and is going nowhere. As County Commission President Joe Mitrecic alluded to this week with his comment about him being frustrated, Perlozzo surely saw he was not getting anywhere on this front with the county. Worcester County, under the current set of commissioners, does not want to get into the youth sports industry. The votes do not seem to be there to support creating a sports complex attraction. A dividing point is the location, but it only makes sense to build it in northern area. A further divisive issue is the likelihood it’s going to take a public-private partnership to fund a complex, as was the case at the sweeping DE Turf complex in Frederica, Del. There is no will among county officials for that type of deal.
Another interesting aspect of this is whether there will be ill will between Ocean City and county officials over Perlozzo being hired away. There were surely be sour grapes for some commissioners who essentially created an umbrella position for him to oversee recreation, parks, tourism and economic development. Even if they wish him well moving on, the commissioners have good reason to be chafed after having to learn of a department head leaving from a news reporter.
Indeed, the way things played out this week was odd. Perlozzo was unanimously approved for the Ocean City position on Monday night at a public meeting. On Tuesday morning, Perlozzo was before the commissioners in an open forum talking about a text amendment related to agri-tourism. At that point, none of the commissioners, except Mitrecic, knew Perlozzo was leaving the county. In fact, appointed administrators with the county were unaware as well. They learned of the news from this paper’s online article posted Tuesday morning. This is never a good thing and clearly a breakdown in communication occurred at some point.
Though he took the high road this week, and rightly so, it’s clear Perlozzo thinks he can do more big things in Ocean City than in Worcester County. Time will tell if that’s the case, but he brings a unique skillset, familiarity with the Ocean City tourism destination and sales experience to the position. He is a good fit, even if there were some questionable plays by the city during the process.
Wayne Cannon passed away this week. He was one of those guys who was admired by many. I don’t have any personal Wayne stories to share aside from getting to know him a bit when he hosted an Ocean City Council candidate forum for the newspaper at Northside Park in 2006. I sked him if would consider moderating the event for us, and he said he would without hesitation. He never even asked how much he would be paid before agreeing.
When we posted the news of his passing Monday on our Facebook page, more than 120 comments came in saying essentially the same thing – he was a kind and wonderful person who had a passion for his family, radio and Ocean City. In response to all the comments, his daughter, Amanda, wrote, “Thank you to everyone who has expressed their sorrow over the loss of my father, Wayne Cannon. Truly one of a kind. I am happy to report that he died peacefully, full of love. One of the very last things he said to us was ‘I am so happy.’ Because he always was. And that’s what made him special.”