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August 15, 2021
Here are three rather complex issues to consider this week. This edition may be a tad long, but I’ve really tried to summarize, so some explanatory data will be missing. If you need more, please contact me.
Newport Community Pier
Our decades-long quest to better secure our pier is progressing, slowly but carefully. Several years ago, after some folks started fires on our wooden decking (yep, you can still see the charred spots), discharged and absconded with our fire extinguishers and life rings, pilfered stuff from our slip renters’ boats, and destroyed several seagull deflectors, we installed a gate with a coded lock. After repeated lock-bashings (ask Mike Morrison our previous dockmaster), we had to install an armored lock; then we had to add gate wings and later wire grids to the wings; meanwhile, we had to frequently change the universal—one-for-all—entry code, which not only cost us $$, but also inconvenienced and confused almost everyone.
Then, after continued incidents, we asked our new management firm Tidewater to leverage their experience and call in the security pros for discussions and competing bids, and we have now chosen a vendor. Secure Alarms will soon be installing a new, WiFi-based entry and personal coding system, which we believe will do most, if not all, of what we need; the new system should be up and running by the end of September. In summary, each person (and it needs to be an individual, unique person) who requests one and can demonstrate his or her status as a property owner or full-time resident of AOTB—i.e., a member—can get a unique code from us at an email address we will supply soon. That code will not only allow entry (and exit) from the pier, but it will also allow us to track usage to a specific person.
No, it’s not Big Brother watching you, we really do have lives we’d rather spend watching our families and Netflix. It’s only your elected officers and board, who are also resident property owners, trying to protect our tax-supported community amenities from folks outside AOTB, who don’t pay our taxes, from using and often abusing them.
After installation, we’ll run both systems in parallel for several weeks during a trial period when the current universal cipher code will still work for everyone in addition to your own unique cipher, which, to repeat, will be assigned only to each person who asks for one. Then, we’ll notify you via email blast that we’ll be making that changeover complete, when our members will have to use their unique codes only.
And sure, like anything in this universe, it can at least be temporarily subverted. For example, when fully operational, a member could give his/her unique code to one or several non-members, but then our electronic records would indicate that a particular unique code was being “abused,” like maybe being used a bazillion times a week when most members would be using theirs a more reasonable few times a week. Then we could remotely (via our internet connection) restrict that code's access.

Please also note that as an additional benefit (which we were gonna eventually do anyway) we will also be providing free internet access to everyone within range of the pier. So, you boaters, fisherfolk, and bay oglers will have access to the wider world like at the big, expensive marinas; just don’t go playing video games and miss the beauty you came here enjoy.
If it all sounds complicated, well, it kinda/sorta is, such being the price we all gotta pay for living with other human beings, the vast majority of whom are pretty decent, but a few, well... And it’s also gonna have some bugs that will need fixing, we know that too, and we’ll need your patience and cooperation; we’re in this together remember.
Overall AOTB Security
Most of you are probably aware that right after we completed our budgeting process in December 2020, when we approved $40K a year for special police protection, our previous provider, Deputy Sheriff Mike Harris, resigned (he actually retired) and we have been without regular security patrols since early this year. Well, it’s taken quite a bit of time and effort to find an adequate, affordable, and legal replacement. And it hasn’t happened yet for a wide variety of reasons, primarily because our Security Chair Mike Adams had to deal with the debilitating illness and tragic eventual loss of our dear friend, neighbor, and community treasurer and his soul-mate, Gail.
We are now back to examining potential replacements, but in the several-month interim, have noted that the world hasn’t stopped spinning without having our own policing presence in addition to the county police at the other end of our 911 calls. Crime hasn’t spiked, although speeders are still endangering us all. So, the question remains, do we really need what we had, or could we do with something less, and perhaps more, at the same time?
That something might be hiring a commercial security firm, for far fewer hours but better targeted at random times that we specify, and at places such as our beach, pier, playground, and boat ramp. We don’t even know for sure if we can get a private firm to supply us with unarmed, county-licensed security guards, in marked cars, for about 20 hours per week, but Tidewater’s helping us look into that option. So, if you note that we haven’t spent the amount budgeted for special police protection, it’s not for lack of trying. But all of us must realize that we will have to let the Anne Arundel County Police Department deal with our chronic speed violators and the other, mostly infrequent stuff they are better trained and equipped for, but only if enough of us ask them to do so.
Bill Keyes Makes Headlines, again
Please see this article from Thursday’s Washington Post on Bill Keyes' observations about the anniversary of 2017’s white nationalist rally at Charlottesville. If the link does not work for you, I can email you a copy/paste version.
In April 1945, Bill’s tank unit liberated Germany’s Ohrdruf forced-labor and death camp). I don’t think it’s editorializing to highlight the insightful warning of this great man, who has witnessed with his own eyes—even before Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—the worst of what fascist, NAZI control can mean to a “civilized” nation made up of ordinary, “law-abiding citizens.”
-- David J. Delia, president, POA-AOTB