Lower Shore Delegation Failing Ocean City
Back in 2019, one of the hottest topics in Ocean City was the unsanctioned H20i car weekend which was creating havoc on our streets. The anger and frustration from Ocean City residents was through the roof. It took a while but thanks to the amazing efforts of the Mayor and Town Council as well as countless law enforcement agencies, we have been successful in running these disrespectful hooligans out of town. It was a coordinated effort for sure. At the time, newly elected Senator Carozza introduced (SB682) which called for an “Enhanced Special Event Zone” which was a key piece of the battle against the H20i folks. Senator Carozza failed in her effort and her proposed legislation was not successful the first year. The bill was a no-brainer and should have sailed through with ease. However, it was a welcome to Annapolis greeting to Senator Carozza from her fellow legislators. She had just replaced Senator Jim Mathias in the election and the Dems were clearly sending her a message. It is four years later and it is clear that Senator Carozza has apparently yet to learn the ways of Annapolis.
The issue of raising the room tax from 5% to 6% in the “home rule counties” here on the Eastern Shore was a hot topic in Annapolis last year. It appeared that the legislation would have sailed through with no opposition. However, and almost incomprehensible, the Worcester County officials did not realize they could not go it alone. In order to follow proper procedure, they would also need the support of their peers in Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. When they realized their mistake, it was too late to rectify their error. Another year would have to pass before the Republicans would be able to attempt the tax hike they have been seeking.
Then there was the 2023 session that just ended. As Sine Die arrived, Senator Carozza could not deliver the room tax increase mechanism she was seeking. She and her fellow Republicans will have to wait yet another year to try and increase the 5% tax rate. Senator Carozza has complained to anyone that will listen that the opposition party is being hypocritical and unfair. She and Delegate Hartman have been unable to deliver in Annapolis for many reasons. In the beginning they faced political retribution which was to be expected. Then it was the lack of knowledge they possessed in order to follow proper procedure. Now we are back to just good old politics to blame as for their failures. I am pretty confident that Senator Mathias would have been able to deliver these pieces of legislation to the constituents. I say this not only because he is a Democrat but because he has always treated folks with respect no matter what their political affiliation. The voters who blindly followed party lines and found it necessary to oust Senator Mathias are now paying the price.
In this paper and in social circles here in town as well as the entire Eastern Shore, it has become commonplace for folks to want to speak of their pride and love of the area. That is great and definitely something to admire. Who cannot love some good old hometown pride? However, and quite sadly, the pride turns into disparaging others not from here. Not a week goes by when I do not hear something negative being said about Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. From school board policy to crime to environmental issues, many of our fellow citizens seem to take joy in trashing those who reside on the other side of the bridge. Senator Carozza and Delegate Hartman are no exception. For 90 days a year, they go to Annapolis with hat in hand and fight an uphill battle for us. Then for the remaining 275 days they come home and gleefully bash our fellow citizens on the other side of the bridge.
It is no surprise to me why Senator Carozza and Delegate Hartman are failing at their jobs. You cannot humiliate and degrade those in power and then cry later when these same folks do not give you what you want. Why on Earth would they? If these two legislators are content with heading to Annapolis year after year for 90 days and not bringing home any bacon, they can just stay on their current paths. However, if they hope to have any success in the future, it would be wise for them to mature into their perspective positions and learn how to handle themselves better. It may be popular in the local bar or social gathering to pile on with their constituents when speaking about the woes of other parts of the state but it is counterproductive. We are all one Maryland and need to start acting like it. The actions of some folks these last few years have us looking like a bunch of fools who have no integrity or decency when it comes to dealing with others out of our own geographic comfort zone.
It is time to stop the division and start uniting. Eastern Shore residents and all Marylanders deserve better.
Sports Complex Meeting The Ultimate Insult
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) of Ocean City are hosting the Maryland Stadium Authority for a presentation of the Sports Complex Study. The event will take place at the Convention Center on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 1 p.m. As reported on the City Clerk’s website, “The press and public are invited to attend but, please note, there will be no opportunity for public comment.” This is the ultimate insult.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be just under $167 million. According to the Town’s Capital Improvement Plan, the M&CC are poised to spend just under $40 million between FY24 and FY27, and yet the public cannot comment. On top of it, the State of Maryland is being asked to fund over $127 million of the cost; and we, Marylanders, cannot comment. Yes, this is the ultimate insult.
The study is centered around acquisition of the land just west of Stephen Decatur High School. The voters of Worcester County, in effect, rejected that location last November. Since then, I have not heard that the Town of Berlin is clamoring to revisit that ill-conceived idea.
As in the 2017 county study by the same consultant, a sports complex is expected to operate at a deficit after a stabilized year of operation. The earlier study for an outdoor facility suggested that it takes from 3 to 5 years to reach a stabilized year of operation. Even then, they projected an operating loss of approximately 25% before taxes, debt service and depreciation.
What about the concern expressed by a number of tournament promoters and producers regarding the oversaturation of the Mid-Atlantic market? These facilities are being built all over the region. There are at least four such facilities or expansions being considered in Maryland alone.
There are many issues to be addressed and questions to be answered, and the public cannot comment. To the citizens of Ocean City, it is time to wake up before the M&CC spend us into financial oblivion.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.