Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 7, 2022

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 7, 2022

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan held a couple press conferences this week, and concerns before each gathering were whether Hogan would follow a few other states with reinstituting a mask mandate for indoor places. Hogan did announce a new requirement for facial coverings in all state buildings, but he was clear he will not be extending the mandate to private businesses. The Republican was asked by a reporter after Tuesday’s press conference whether he was considering requiring masks once again. Hogan is on record as committed to not implementing another mask mandate.

“Our real focus is on keeping people out of the hospital and preventing deaths … [a mask mandate] sometimes has the opposite effect. I’m not sure the people who are refusing to wear a mask are going to wear one anyway,” Hogan said Tuesday. “We don’t have the ability to enforce it, so we are just strongly encouraging people to wear the damn mask. We don’t need a mandate to force businesses to do that. We are encouraging them to do so.”

The best aspects of our small community often shine when a beloved educator passes away. It was touching to read all the personal accounts posted online and in this paper this week after Peter Mundrick’s sudden passing was confirmed. The former music and band teacher at Stephen Decatur Middle School clearly influenced many young lives. Mundrick was a familiar site at the annual parades in the area as he walked the routes encouraging his middle school band along the way.

Former student Nick French put it well, saying, “Peter Mundrick will be missed tremendously. He was one of my top teachers throughout my grade school years; always pushing me to my full potential. He always made sure I was working and practicing my craft to the best of my ability. He has inspired me, as he has so many others. He cared so much for music and his pupils that cared for their own craft themselves. I was so shocked I really didn’t believe that he passed away. I am just at a loss for words. Mr. Mundrick will be missed by so many, including myself, and I wouldn’t be the musician I am if it weren’t for that man.”

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Dozens of similar comments from former students and colleagues can be found summarizing his impact.

Compared to similar efforts in the past, former Ocean City Councilman Vince Gisriel picked a good time to launch a petition to referendum. Since the last election in 2020 featured paltry turnout with only 1,528 voters turning out, Gisriel needs to only obtain 612 signatures from registered property owners to get the recent room tax ordinance placed before voters in November. In contrast, an unsuccessful petition effort against the city’s mid-town gym property purchase in 2016 faced a much tougher haul, requiring 1,027 signatures based on the previous election featuring 2,566 voters.

I offer two predictions on this matter. First, Gisriel will easily get the required signatures. He knows from past experience how to organize successful petition drives. Despite the winter season, I suspect he will be successful in bringing the ordinance to referendum. He is well-known and respected throughout town and a familiar face and name to many based on his 14 years of serving as a councilman. Secondly, on that front, I expect to see Gisriel file for the council election this year. Back in 2016, a grassroots effort was led to get Gisriel elected as a write-in candidate. Though unsuccessful ultimately, Gisriel said at the time, “Having been in politics, every time the deadline approaches I get those pangs to run again, but I didn’t consider it in this cycle. All of a sudden this (write-in campaign) kind of presented itself and we’ll see how it plays out. Again, frankly I’m flattered and I’d be honored to serve.”

The cancelation of events due to the ongoing pandemic is a controversial thing. The latest example was Berlin’s New Year’s Eve festivities, which were ultimately canned the day before the two ball drop events were to be held. Unlike last year when it was obvious the event should not be held, there was excitement ahead of this year’s New Year’s Eve events, particularly among families for the kids’ ball drop early in the night.

The biggest issue here with the decision was the timing. Two days before the planned event was to be held, Berlin Mayor Zack Tyndall said the party would go on as the health department was not asking for events to be canceled, requesting instead for masking and social distance to be followed even if outside. In a post last Thursday, the town announced the events were canceled due to rising health metrics and vendors opting out while encouraging folks through a listing to frequent the restaurants open for New Year’s Eve. It turns out there were also town staff members who were sick and unable to work, making it a logistical impossibility for the town to host the event and the crowds it brings to town.

As expected and understandably, business owners in Berlin cried foul once the announcement was made. The decision crippled their operations with restaurants reporting canceled reservations almost immediately after the announcement was posted. In fact, the Atlantic Hotel reported losing over half of its hotel and restaurant reservations once the ball drop event was nixed. It was an unfortunate way to end 2021, a rebound year for many in Berlin after a dismal 2020.

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.