Friday, January 20, 2006

Scenic Downtown Delmar

Each morning as people go to work on Route 54/State Street this is what they see and this is the impression Delmar makes on them. This is the John LeCates property on the corner of State and Pennsylvania. Parcel ID 53202014020400. The property has been in this shape for at least 10 years.

Correctional Officers Wages and Foreign Correctional Officers

In addition to increasing the minimum wage Maryland increased Correctional Officer's pay by 6%. An 18 year old fresh out of high school can now start at $26,000 a year and in a very short time be up to $33,000 a year. Delaware has recently increased Correctional Officer's pay. The Pay raise cycle will now start again. At the Wicomico County Detention Center I watch this game played each year. One jail would raise Correctional Officers pay and than all the officers in the other jails would go to their Warden and say look how much they are making, pay me more or I will go there. In turn the local jail would raise pay and than the state Jail would have to raise wages. For a basic baby sitting job it an overpaid field.

There is a high turnover in the field due to the negative environment of dealing with inmates and dealing with government paid wardens. Rarely is a jail's budgeted amount of Correctional Officers filled. At the Wicomico County Detention Center I felt part of this was due to the Warden desiring to use the unfilled positions salaries in his budget to apply to the numerous overrun non pay budget items. If Wicomico County was truely interested in controlling expenses they would simply say salary funds are not to be used for anything but salaries and can not be transferred to non pay budget items.

If the shortage of Correctional Officers is due to the lack of people willing to work for a given rate of pay then do as the fast food and hospitality industry does - hire foreign workers. We all know they are used extensively in Ocean City and the chicken plants, why not hire foreign Correctional Officers. They would probably work for $20,000 a year and like it. A few good Singapore or Chinese Correctional Officers would do wonders for the inmate population.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Maryland Minimum Wage

The State of Maryland recently raised the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour. This is a $1.00 increase over the old rate. It has long been my feeling that the minimum wage should be $10.00 an hour. Using simple numbers lets look at what $6.15 an hour will pay for or rather won't pay for.

If the person works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks that person will make $12,792, less social security and taxes of $1,279 will net the person $11,513 to pay expenses. Lets say this person rents a mobile home for $600 a month ($7,200 a year). The person pays $800 a year for electric for lights, hot water , and cooking. Another $300 is paid for fuel oil to heat the mobile home. Given $3,650 a year for food, $500 for shoes, clothing and cleaning the clothes, $250 for haircuts and personal hygiene items, $150 for cleaning supplies and misc, $480 for a cell phone. A car is a large expense, but how are you going to get around on the Eastern Shore without one? Lets say $150 car payment ($1,800 a year), car insurance of $600 a year, gas of $1,000 a year and car maintenance of $300 a year. This will total $17,030 in after tax income. If we bump it up 10% for taxes and social security the person will require about $9.09 an hour versus the $6.15 the State of Maryland says you can live on. It means you could never get sick, no internet access, no catv etc and no eating at Liquid Assets in Ocean City.

Let's compare out $6.15 an hour worker to the economics of another Eastern Shore Blogger. The blog site "Justice For All" by Hadley Baxendale on January 10th discussed going to Ocean City for lunch and spending $315 on lunch. In all fairest it was for two people.

Wind and Rain

Well for the past few days Delmar has had high winds, rain and some light snow. In my walks around Delmar, tree limbs are down, some vinyl siding is tore from houses, and the storm water drainage system is clogged due to leaves and debris in the streets. Some flooding could have been prevented by scheduled street sweepings. At my house I had an aluminum canoe blown from it rack over into my lilac bushes, a few tree limbs flung to the ground, and a metal trellis blown over. But the bright side is the temperatures for most days have remained above normal, which means less fuel oil being used.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr Day

As an older, white, native, Easternshoreman I naturally have mixed emotions over Martin Luther King Jr day. The main organizations that actually observe it as a holiday seem to be those that are supported by taxpayers or heavily government regulated business. If we say Martin Luther King Jr represents the civil right movement in America than I can truly say no other person impacted my social social enviroment more than him. Over the years from the 1940's until now I have seen an improvement in the way people are treated, given a little more opportunity and a little more respect. I have not agreed with some some of the steps taken to make this happen, but it has happened and I would like to say it is behind us. I think America in some respects has improved.