Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – August 27, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – August 27, 2021

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan went after his fellow Republican governors this week on national television for going against a fundamental conservative principle of letting local leaders make up their own minds. He was referring to general decisions during the ongoing pandemic, but specifically to states issuing orders preventing local school systems from requiring masks.

“Not only are they against it, but they’re mandating against it,” Hogan said. “They’re Republican governors who are saying they’re all about freedom, and yet they’re taking away the freedom of local school systems and in some cases businesses to make those decisions for themselves … We’ve tried to find the right balance, we’ve been encouraging mask usage. We left it up to the duly elected school boards in our state — that’s who has the power to make those decisions. About two-thirds of our school systems voted to wear masks, others decided not to. But to mandate that they have to or mandate that they cannot doesn’t make sense to me.”

Days after this interview, it’s interesting to note the Maryland State Department of Education made it clear it was going to require schools open with masks at a meeting held Thursday afternoon. Five of the state’s 24 public school systems, including Worcester, were allowing facial coverings to be optional, while “strongly recommending” they be worn. It’s clear a great majority of students and teachers will not wear masks if given the option. School leaders can hide behind the strong recommendation part because it’s the guidance from the health folks.

The most important thing for students is staying in school. If it’s believed the best way to avoid remote learning is to mask, I am all for it. It’s not ideal, but I have no patience for these vast extremes and intolerance from both sides. Whatever keeps kids in school and healthy I support. The problem is everyone disagrees on how it should be done. I am not going to complain if my kids must wear masks to school. I just insist they be in a school building even if looks different than it should. Keeping them in school and not online learning is paramount to masks.

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Former Ocean City Councilman Vince Gisriel is right when he maintains the absurdity surrounding a $49,000 study on a possible sports complex not being made public yet. If public dollars are spent on something, it should be made available for public review.

The assumption is the report is not being released because it reached negative conclusions on the potential for a sports complex in north Worcester County. The 2016 report painted a mixed picture, but did seem to indicate best operations are privately run rather than government-run or through a public/private partnership. It’s highly possible a study three years later reached the same conclusions and provide mixed feasibility results.

Ocean City wants the study released evidently, but the feeling is the conclusions are no longer relevant in a post-pandemic world. This tells me the consultant is no longer confident in its conclusions.

“We recently okayed the study for release and informed the MSA with the request that they and the consultant present it at a council meeting,” Ocean City Manager Doug Miller said last August. “They informed the consultant of this, to which the consultant responded they were not comfortable with all of their assumptions now that we were post-COVID. …  “We are looking at two options which have not been decided on. One is release the study with the qualifier that assumptions may have changed. Two is have the consultant go back and retest their assumptions. The council has to decide between the two.”

At last week’s meeting at City Hall, the council seemed to still be in the dark as to what’s going on with the study. It was said the study will be released when the state is ready. My guess is this study will never be released under the guise the conclusions are not valid. The consultant will most likely want some more money to revise the study in today’s world. If that’s the case, the first study was a total waste of money. Another $50,000 to study the issue would be as well.

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Some more details came out this week on the proposed major concert promoter considering Ocean City as a site for an event in late September 2022. C3 Presents creates, markets and produces live concerts and festivals, such as Lollapolozza.

Whether it will feature the same types of bands as Lollapolozza does each summer is unknown, but the initial plans include bands featured across three stages on the beach Sept. 23-25 (the weekend before Sunfest and typically when the pop-up car rally disrupts life for Ocean City).

It’s a bold to hold a beach concert the same weekend as the pop up rally. Concerns about traffic as well as overwhelming police resources on a heavy weekend are valid. Whether it’s too chancy is something Ocean City will have to weigh. On the surface, it seems overly risky. However, the theory for many years has been it will take another event, coupled with police continually making Ocean City an uncomfortable place to visit, to bump the unruly idiots away from Ocean City. The crowd has seemed to relish not being wanted here. When it’s learned a major event is being planned the same weekend, it might send the rally participants elsewhere or it could fuel interests and attract more of the wrong types of people.

As of now, Ocean City seems willing to continue exploring the event and a possible partnership with the promoter.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.