I would like to thank all the petitioners for trusting our small group to collect the signatures of Ocean City voters so their voices can be heard. Had we not done the petition, we believe a majority of the council would have raised Ocean City taxes more than they did two weeks ago.
We would like to apologize to the many voters who may have wanted to review the petition but never had the opportunity. We had a manpower problem. There were only four of us soliciting, average age 71. Nonetheless, eight out of 10 voters we contacted supported the petition. That is strong voter input.
You voters signed the petition to have a public vote to reduce property taxes. This is awfully brave in an environment where local government is hostile to your wishes. The council could vote on lowering taxes in five minutes if they wanted to. They don’t, so you the people did.
I would specifically like to thank the election board for verifying the count of valid signatures at over 1,475, confirming what our committee knew. We were required to get 1,228 signatures.
In closing, I imagine shortly you will hear from the city’s lawyer that the petition is illegal. This would mean that you don’t have a right to petition to lower your tax. The Town of Ocean City is in a truly perverse position: the council must sue its own voters to prevent the people from voting to lower their taxes.
We have been told to expect a lengthy court battle. In utter disregard of your wishes, your council will spend your money to destroy your lawful petition. At that stage, the battle will become not who will vote for the tax cut, or who will oppose it, but whether or not you have a right to petition your tax grievance.
We believe no law can trump your right to petition your grievances. We will do our best to defend your right against your council’s legal challenge to stop the petition. Stay brave, stay firm and God willing we will prevail. Thank you.
U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the right of the people … to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”