Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk
Although expected for some time, big state political news was made this week when Attorney General Doug Gansler officially announced his bid to be the next governor. He will square off in next June’s primary against Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to see who represents the state’s dominant party in November 2014. That will be an intriguing showdown to observe over the next several months as the candidates spar in advance of next summer’s primary.
On the local front, political aspirations of a mysterious nature were inadvertently posted this week on Facebook, and it confirms Ocean City Councilman Joe Mitrecic is at least considering a run for County Commissioner in 2014. However, Mitrecic was quick yesterday to report he has not made up his mind one way or the other at this juncture.
At some point this week, someone changed the “Elect Joe Mitrecic” Facebook page, created last fall prior to the Ocean City election, to “Elect Joe Mitrecic for County Commissioner”. Within minutes, he or someone in his camp then changed it back to Elect Joe Mitrecic. I was able to obtain a screen shot of the change this week, confirming it took place within a short period of time.
In a phone call yesterday, Mitrecic reported he had no idea how the change was made and that he was on a construction job site when he first heard about it. He reiterated that he has not made a decision, but made it clear a run is under consideration. He said if he decided to run he would not announce it on Facebook.
The Ocean City district’s commissioner seat is currently occupied by Louise Gulyas, who was first elected in 1998 and has been re-elected three times. Gulyas has had her fair share of health issues over the last year, but she is undecided on her political future, according to her son, Thom.
Mitrecic has long been rumored to be a candidate for the commission. Those thoughts were quelled for a bit when he lost his council seat in 2010, but ever since he regained in 2012 there have been inclinations that he might seek a leap to county office.
It’s no secret that Gulyas and Mayor Rick Meehan are not on the same page on many resort matters. Conversely, Meehan and Mitrecic are tight, and sources indicate the resort leadership is looking to get new representation in Snow Hill to help with the ongoing tax differential issue that could mean millions of dollars to the resort.
If Mitrecic officially decides to seek the county seat, it will not be the first time a council person has sought the seat in the middle of a council term. In 1998, then-Councilman Jim Hall made a run at commissioner two years into his current term. Hall knocked off incumbent Granville Trimper in the primary but then lost to Gulyas in the general vote. Hall then returned to the council for another 14 years.
Mitrecic said Gulyas’ decision to run again or not will not impact his judgment. Mitrecic, a registered Republican who has served nine years on the council, acknowledged he would have nothing to lose by running for the commissioner seat because he would not have to abandon his council seat.
Mitrecic might not have made up his mind, but my prediction is he will run (and should change his Facebook password).
Governments across the country include laws in their code books that are unenforceable. It’s just the way government works sometimes, but efforts are routinely made these days to not pass a law unless it’s realistic to enforce and is needed. A spirited discussion along these lines took place at the Berlin Mayor and Council meeting this week and specifically involved whether a proposed ordinance dictating what is allowed at town parks should be passed.
In fact, while the ordinance was being discussed during a public hearing, Berlin Councilman Dean Burrell, for reasons unknown to most in the room, showed an aggression and nastiness that most public officials usually do not display at meetings. Burrell unleashed his fury on town staff members and a citizen during the discussion, leaving most of his colleagues on the dais hanging their heads and presumably surprised by his angst.
When staff broached enforcement concerns over the proposed ordinance, which involved a number of issues including banning bikes and not allowing any professional services, such as personal training, without written permission from the council, Burrell went on the attack. Besides displaying an odd aggression toward personal trainer Pamela Green, who is my wife for what it’s worth, and one of her clients, Laura Powell, during their comments in the public hearing, Burrell berated new Planning Director Dave Englehart and town attorney Dave Gaskill after they both expressed concerns over the need for the ordinance and articulated enforcement concerns.
Englehart said, “This is an extremely hard thing for enforcement … I have a feeling, people would think, ‘here’s that stalker again.’ … Parks are for the public use. People pay taxes and reside in the town.”
Gaskill agreed, saying, “I think we’re searching for problems that we don’t have. And, as Dave [Engelhart] said, there’s no way to figure out whether the ordinance on the table is being adhered to or being violated.”
Burrell apparently had enough and offered staff the opportunity to seek work elsewhere if certain members could not enforce the policies passed by the council.
“… if you feel yourself a stalker or you feel you don’t have the ability to enforce the policies made by this group you need to move along because this is the group that decides on what you will enforce and what you will not enforce, and I think that’s clear,” Burrell said.
Passion in almost every circumstance is a good thing, but Burrell clearly went too far in this case and is guilty of making a proverbial mountain of a molehill.