Environment Bill Support Urged
I would like to express my support for the Environmental Human Rights Amendment (EHRA) that is being considered in our General Assembly now. The EHRA is a critical foundation for Maryland’s much-needed march into the future as a leader in environmental justice. If three-fifths of each House passes it, it will go on the ballot as a referendum in November for we the people to vote on it.
This amendment, should it become part of our Constitution, would ensure the right of every single resident of Maryland to a healthful environment. That means cleaner air, soil and water. That means restoration of our declining wildlife habitats. That means rehabilitation and reconstitution of areas degraded by lax enforcement of existing environmental laws.
Even though in 1973 the state adopted the Maryland Environmental Policy Act, recognizing every resident’s fundamental and inalienable right to a clean environment, this fundamental right has not been protected. Our natural resources have not been preserved and protected. It’s past time to make that right.
Health Commission Needed
It is no secret that the American healthcare system is broken and immoral. While other industrialized nations have achieved universal coverage, we have millions underinsured or uninsured and can’t afford the care they need. We’ve prioritized profits over people for way too long.
While it is true the expansion of Medicaid in Maryland has caused a significant decrease in the rate of the uninsured, there are still major gaps in health care access. Almost 6% of Marylanders are still uninsured, and Marylanders living in or near poverty are almost three times as likely to be uninsured.
Deductibles and out of pocket expenses create barriers for Marylanders who are insured from accessing prescription drugs and life-saving medical services. In addition, rural areas like the Eastern Shore have a dangerous lack of access to vital health services resulting in most of us traveling over two hours or to a different state for care.
To make matters worse, under our current healthcare system, there are discrepancies between white and minority patients. This often results in a lower standard of care and more cases of death in patients of color than white patients.
We know that providing health care coverage to all Marylanders will drastically lower costs for the state and provide better health outcomes in our communities. This is why passing SB493-HB610 Commission on Universal Healthcare sponsored by Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Sheila Ruth is crucial.
The Commission on Universal Healthcare would create a Kirwan-like commission to develop a plan for a state universal healthcare program. This commission would be a significant victory for the Eastern Shore and the entire state. It is time for the Maryland General Assembly to give us care and pass SB0493-HB0610.
(The writer is the chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus Wicomico County.)
Film Festival A Hit
On behalf of the Art League of Ocean City, thank you to everyone who supported and made the 6th Annual Ocean City Film Festival a huge success, including our generous sponsors, attendees, filmmakers, committee, 59 volunteers, moderators, and staff. A special shout out to our title sponsors, the Town of Ocean City and Ocean Downs Casino.
We are so glad to be back live and in-person this year. The festival was truly a citywide happening and a real boost to the shoulder season in Ocean City. We thank the venues that screened the films for their hospitality- Flagship Cinemas, Fox Gold Coast Theater, Ocean City Performing Arts Center, Ocean Downs Casino, and Seacrets Morley Hall. And also to the local businesses who supported us with the popular after-parties- Residence Inn, Mother’s Cantina, Fager’s Island and Princess Royale.
Thank you to the diverse group of filmmakers from around the world, many who attended, who allowed us to share 100 compelling films to more than 1,000 attendees. The festival showcased industry professionals as well as university students, young filmmakers, and local talent and gave them opportunities to network with others who share their passion.
Thank you to our additional supporting sponsors: Peter Glenville Foundation, The Maryland Film Office, Good Clean Fun Life, Peter Glenville Foundation, WRDE Coast TV, Bank of Ocean City, Blue Fish, and West O Bottle Shop. Also, Coins Pub, Truist, The Buzz Eatery, OCMD Hotels, HMRA, Shore United Bank, O.C. Chamber of Commerce, IG Burton, Taylor Bank, O.C Development Corp, and O.C. Organics. And to our media sponsors: O.C. Today, Coastal Point, The Dispatch, Ocean 98.1, OceanCity.com, and Unscene Productions.
We are grateful to author Brent Lewis, who led a filmmaker panel discussion at the Ocean City Center for the Arts.
Finally, to our audiences who laughed, shed a tear, asked insightful questions, and enthusiastically applauded, we appreciate you choosing to spend your time with us.
Mark your calendars for the 7th annual festival in March 2023. In the meantime, join us for our monthly film nights at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th St., where you can experience independent film screenings year-round. And look out for the next Ocean City Film Challenge in summer 2022.
(Thaler is the executive director of the Art League of Ocean City Executive Director, while Strang-Moya is the creative director of the Ocean City Film Festival.)
One Pill Can Kill
The fentanyl crisis is getting worse, not better. Fake pills with deadly amounts of fentanyl are popping up everywhere. It’s in fake Xanax and Percocets, it’s being laced in cocaine and ecstasy. A single pill can kill. Families Against Fentanyl founder James Rauh, who lost his son to fentanyl poisoning. I attended an information session sponsored by Worcester Goes Purple and the Worcester County Sheriff’s office. The event, entitled “One Pill Can Kill,” was aimed at educating parents of school-age children about the dangers of fentanyl poisoning.
Sadly, there were no parents in attendance. There were sessions in Snow Hill, Pocomoke City and Berlin also and very few, if any, parents, attended those either.
The three grandparents who attended the Ocean Pines session were given a lot of information regarding the dangers of fentanyl. The following are some of the facts we learned. Fentanyl is laced into OTC medications as well as prescription drugs such as Zanax and Percocet, as well as illegal drugs that are not fatal, but become so with the addition of Fentanyl.
Fake pills are being mass-produced and sold as legitimate prescription pills to deceive the American public.
Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and are often sold on social media making them available to anyone with online access (we were also given a handout entitled “Fifteen Apps Parents Should Know About”).
As little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal.
In 2021 there were 60 opioid overdoses in Worcester County, 10 of which were fatal.
Pre-teens and teens experimenting with drugs are the most at risk. One time is all it takes to end a life if a person receives a counterfeit pill or a laced drug.
Young people today are more at-risk than ever before. Adults who work with them (teachers, counselors, first responders, etc.) are extremely concerned about their mental and emotional health. These issues make young people much more vulnerable.
I encourage parents to please contact Debbie Smullen at Worcester Goes Purple (410-870-5161) to obtain the information we were given at the session. Please start a dialogue with your friends, neighbors, church members and co-workers. And please, please talk to your kids about this.
We parents and grandparents have been bombarded by one crisis after another for the last two years, but this is one crisis we simply must address.
I stepped into a movie theater for the first time in over two years. And I am so glad I did. The Ocean City Film Festival never seems to disappoint. These movies, in my opinion, are so much better than the Hollywood fluff. The movies are more real, truer to real life, more authentic, more entertaining than the million dollar movies. The funny shorts, “Don’t Jump” was a favorite. We really enjoyed “Psychopomp”. The aquatic shorts were very good, especially, “The Beaver Boys”. And as always, the animation shorts tend to bring the kid out in you. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be, “Bucket Hat!”. As the film festival was nearing the end on Sunday, we were left with a tough decision. Should we stay at Seacrets where we had been watching films all day or should we head to the Flagship and finish the day there. Three movies were playing at the same time, starting at 3:30 p.m. “Sometimes I Dream In Farsi” was playing at Fox. Probably, a decent movie, but it came down to, “Mary Tyler, Millenniel” or “The Issue With Elvis.” “Mary Tyler, Millennial” sounded intriguing, but something drew us to go see “The Issue With Elvis”. And boy we were glad we did. The movie was fantastic. By far our favorite. Written, directed, and produced by Charlotte Wincott, starring her husband Jeff Wincott and their son Wolfgang Wincott. Truly, a family affair. Such a meaningful movie. It touched your heart, made you smile, induced you to shed a tear. The gist of the movie had two lost souls find each other under unusually circumstances. One lost soul was a young kid and the other lost soul was a grown man. Watching this movie, I am confident many people would be able to relate to it! The three family members were all there for the Q&A. Like the movie being our favorite, the Q&A turned out to be our favorite. Three wonderful people who were so authentic, so real, so kind, so caring. I could go on and on. When everything was wrapped up, I had a chance meeting with Jeff (Dr. Mercer) in the bathroom. I told him that out of all the movies we saw, their’s was the best. Jeff seemed to be truly flattered and appreciative of what I said. We continued our conversation in the hallway for a good 15 minutes. What a great guy. We found to have much in common. Ironically, 20 yards away, I noticed that my wife was talking to Jeff’s wife. All of this by chance. We found out that they recently bought a place in Ocean City and plan to spend much of the summer here. I invited Jeff to bring Wolfgang (Elvis) to the 2nd Street beach stand and hang out for the day. I am thinking Charlotte might want to do a film in Ocean City. I am going to put a bug in her ear that there would be no better story than the life and times of a 63-year-old beach boy. That would be 47 years of stories to tell, and a lot of film on the floor of the editing room.