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The Ragin’ on the River Regatta that has become a fairly popular Labor Day weekend event appears to have run aground.

Unfortunately, the Port Deposit Chamber of Commerce has asked the town government to pick up sponsorship of the boat racing event.

It’s not necessarily hard to understand why. Years ago, Havre de Grace was home to a comparable event, but it faded from the scene as it was a lot of work for not much of a return for the organizing charities.

One popped up later in Baltimore County, then faded. Another showed up on the Bush River after the Baltimore County version petered out.

Make no mistake. Powerboat racing can be a lot of fun to watch, at least as much fun as auto racing. And Port Deposit is a perfectly good place to have such a race.

But should the Port Deposit town government be the sponsoring body? It just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

First its worth considering the philosophical issue of whether that’s part of what a town government should be doing. If a town says yes to sponsoring a powerboat race today, how can it say no to sponsoring a bass tournament or a turtle derby next week?

Certainly the chamber of commerce is a more appropriate sponsor for such an event, and if the chamber isn’t up for it anymore, perhaps it should find another community organization to take on the responsibility.

Then there’s the matter of whether Port Deposit can afford to take on such a task, even if it were a good public policy move.

Port’s finances have been a mess for many years. That’s part of the reason it’s in the process of divesting itself of its water and sewer operations. And there’s no reason to expect the town to be in a better position for picking up the slack on an event like the regatta, not to mention taking on the potential liability of being involved firsthand with a potentially deadly event.

If Port Deposit as a community wants to keep the powerboat races, it should come up with a private organization that can be the sponsor, but the town government should stay away from it.


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