Community Palette

Delaware Beaches are the Place to Be

July 2, 2012

For many the official opening of the beach season after that taste of summer on Memorial Day is July 4th. This year it unfortunately falls on a Wednesday so there is the question of how to make it a long weekend. This past weekend at the beach I found that many solved the problem by planning to stay the entire week. While it was 100 degrees in Washington and Baltimore and not a lot cooler at the beach there is something about sitting on the beach facing a big wide ocean that makes it easier to suffer the heat. From Dewey to Bethany to Rehoboth to Lewes the beaches were jammed. Whether you are gay, straight, single, married, have kids or not, there is something for everyone.

The first step in planning a beach getaway is deciding how much traffic you can tolerate. According to AAA there will be close to a million people in the DC Metro area traveling more than 50 miles away from home over the holiday week and many of them heading to the beaches. There is no limit to the number of people that can go to the Delaware beaches even if you think there should be when you get stuck in traffic either at the Bay Bridge or on Rte.1 going past 133 Tanger Outlet stores

My favorite summer get-a-way for the past 28 years has been Rehoboth Beach. Rain or shine it is always fun. This year is no exception and the weather while hot his past weekend was spectacular. It is usually about 10 degrees cooler than DC and often less humid.

Rehobeth Beach Water Tower (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Rehobeth Beach Water Tower

Like many I find that crossing the Bay Bridge lowers ones blood pressure and you can suddenly breathe a little easier. No matter the weather just open the car windows as you cross the bridge and smell the fresh air and feel the breeze off the water.

I am one of the lucky ones and can often leave town early enough before the weekend and spend a day working from the beach. I often head out on a Thursday morning leaving Dupont Circle at 6:45 am and turn the key in the lock at my place at the beach by 9:00am. Not the way it is for some friends who can’t leave the District till after 2:00pm on a Friday afternoon. But even they find it more than worth the trip once happily ensconced in their homes, hotels or rentals for the weekend or a longer stay.

The mile long boardwalk in Rehoboth was packed all weekend from early morning with cyclists and dog walkers, (allowed till 10am) till late at night for those needing some cotton candy, French fries or a dose of Funland with their kids or who just wannabe kids.

I had breakfast at Arena’s on the highway one morning (they do a great $8.99 all you can eat brunch on the weekends). Other days I met friends for coffee at 7:30am at the Coffee Mill in Rehoboth Mews, just around the corner from Browseabout bookstore with its newspapers from up and down the East coast. For those like me still like the feel of newsprint you can get the DC, Baltimore and Philly papers and not miss a beat. Dr. Jill Biden will be doing a book signing there on Thursday, July 5th.

The Blue Moon (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) The Blue Moon

I spent Thursday during lunch and a coffee break from work walking in downtown Rehoboth saying hello to old friends and seeing what’s new since last year. Rehoboth always has a few new restaurants and shops. I started and ended the walk mostly on Baltimore Avenue.  Just the short walk on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth, the stretch from the beach to second street you will pass the Philip Morton Gallery, Ward Ellinger Gallery and Lori’s Café in the CAMP Courtyard, Universal Gear (with stores also in New York and Washington, DC), and the best and biggest gay bar with an outdoor deck in Rehoboth, Aqua Grille. Then Touch of Italy (Italian specialty cheeses, meats, pasta and hero sandwiches) and Elegant Slumming (fine jewelry and home furnishings). Also the grand ole lady of Rehoboth gay bars the Blue Moon, which is still swinging and a real crowd pleaser with the sounds of Pamela Stanley many nights. The beach block has great restaurants including Eden and the slightly less expensive but just a nice Jam by the same owners. Then there is the new a(muse), a restaurant from the owner’s of NAGE (they have a place on the highway outside Rehoboth and another in DC on Scott Circle). On Baltimore Avenue or within a five minute stroll are the old but still great Rehoboth restaurants like the always satisfying and fun Blue Moon, Back Porch, Zebra and the Cultured Pearl to name just a few. You could live on Baltimore Avenue or within a few steps of it for the entire weekend and eat, shop and party to your hearts content.

I recommend to anyone that hasn’t been that you add Rehoboth Beach to your summer vacation plans this year. You will be back again and again.

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Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

June 28, 2012

Today the Supreme Court affirmed the work and vision of President Obama and the Democratic Congress which is to work towards ensuring that every person in the United States has access to affordable healthcare.  

Polling indicates that a small majority of people still object to the Affordable Care Act called Obamacare. But when asked about each of the individual pieces of the Act they are overwhelmingly in favor of then. These individual parts include insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions; preventive care coverage; seniors receiving additional savings on their prescriptions; and having children stay on their parents insurance till the age of 26. The Department of Health and Human Services will now continue to slowly implement the pieces of this law which will go into effect through 2014 by which time insurance exchanges will be available in each state or from the federal government if states can’t meet the deadline, and everyone will be mandated to buy health insurance.

This mandate is what Republicans, including Mitt Romney, believed would make the bill unconstitutional. It is amazing in many ways to see that while it was ruled unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause it was Chief Justice Roberts who was the deciding vote to say the mandate is constitutional under the taxing power given to Congress.

Now the demagoguery of the right wing of the Republican Party begins and we will hear what they have to say about Chief Justice Roberts who conservatives believed was on their side. The nonsense is already beginning with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) saying ridiculous things like it still isn’t constitutional even though the court said it is. Speaker Boehner announced he will hold a vote on July 11th in the House of Representatives to repeal the bill and which everyone knows is pure political theater because such a bill can’t pass Congress.

Mitt Romney is saying that if elected on day one he will repeal Obamacare. What he will have to do is make that argument to Independent voters who have seen Romneycare (the basis for the federal program) succeed in Massachusetts and heard Romney when he passionately spoke up for a mandate. If Romney tries now to say this is a tax then he will have to admit it was also a tax in Massachusetts which puts him in an untenable position on this issue.

The time is now to move forward with all the parts of the Affordable Care Act. Whatever Mitt Romney or the Republicans say this will remain the law of the land and it will be seen many years from now as a good thing. The trials and tribulations of putting all the parts of this Act into effect will go on and the fights over the smaller issues around how to implement this policy will continue. But in the end the American people will feel more secure because they will know that their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers will be able to get the healthcare they need.

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Cutting Taxes Isn't Always a Good Idea

June 26, 2012

Cutting taxes often doesn’t boost the economy and definitely doesn’t boost trust in politicians. It can be bad when done to pander to lobbyists clamoring for cuts benefitting only a few. On the national level we spent the last decade cutting taxes for the rich and for many businesses and no rational person can claim our economy is better for it. In the District, some claim we pay exorbitant taxes, which are bad for business and growth. The facts contradict that as we have huge gains in population — percentage-wise bigger than any state in the country — and an economic boom that has seen billions of dollars pour into the city.

Before calling for lower business taxes, we should survey our business owners to see which of them live in the District and how many of their employees live here. We may find many of them live outside the District and pay no income tax here. We are prohibited by Congress from charging a commuter tax, so even if you receive income here but live in Virginia or Maryland, we can’t collect taxes from you. Studies have shown that we only tax about 66 percent of the income actually earned in the District.

We should restructure some business regulations to assist small businesses, while being mindful that regulations have nothing to do with politicians being guilty of crimes. Harry Thomas, Jr. was a thief and Kwame Brown committed mortgage fraud. Neither crime had anything to do with the tax structure or the regulatory system. A regulation I support changing is the so-called “voluntary agreement,” which is often a coerced agreement. Currently five people can stop a bar or restaurant from opening or cause thousands of dollars in legal fees before they do, to fight over issues like seating capacity. That isn’t Democracy when a few people can dictate to an entire community.

In D.C., we have 14 elected officials with any real power; the school board and ANCs are basically advisory. Thirteen Council members and the mayor have power but even they can be held hostage to both budgetary and legislative review by the Congress. Everything those 14 officials do is scrutinized by a robust press corps often fighting over who can break the next real or supposed scandal. That gets a lead spot on the broadcast or the front page. Reporting good news may get 30 seconds somewhere in the broadcast or a column buried in the Metro section. There are so many local reporters, most of whom do a great job, that each of our elected officials can be covered 24 hours a day by more than one person.

It’s crucial to remember that despite political scandals, the District is the envy of most cities and states with regard to our finances, population growth, improving environment, economic growth and technology in government. That doesn’t excuse any politician from punishment for a crime they may commit and I applaud the U.S. Attorney for moving forward with his investigations. What it does show is that the crimes of our politicians won’t bring our city down.

We are one of the greenest cities in the nation; one of only seven jurisdictions with marriage equality; and we have ever expanding bike lanes. We are moving forward with school reform and have a robust Charter School system. We are the No. 1 city in the nation to do business in according to MarketWatch and the No. 1 city in the nation that college graduates want to move to. In the area of healthcare we have the fewest uninsured children of any state and the second lowest number of uninsured adults. We have had balanced budgets for the past 14 years as required by law and have more than a billion dollars in our reserve fund. We have more than $3 billion in current economic activity with cranes going up all across the city and nearly $11 billion more in the economic pipeline.

We need to rid ourselves of any crooked politician but not convince ourselves that our politicians are any better or worse than those in the rest of the nation. In November, the voters of the District will have the proverbial chance to “throw the bums out” or re-elect those they feel are responsible for the great shape our city is in. I urge people to choose carefully and not get caught up in the false hype about how bad our city is. We have good and bad politicians and a lot of great people that go to work for our government everyday putting in a long and honest day’s work. Let us not tar everyone with the same brush because of some who are dishonest.

This article appeared in The Washington Blade, June 20, 2012


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