A note from the new superintendent
To the Editor:
The upcoming Labor Day holiday serves as an unofficial back-to-school signal. Once again the Vineyard's schools, like thousands of schools across our country, will become a hub of activity for children of all ages. I am truly looking forward for my first "opening day" on the Vineyard and working with the members of the Island's educational community.
Back-to-school coincides with the release of data from last spring's MCAS testing, and I will be sharing those results with you over the next few months. Our schools have traditionally done well on this one measure of student achievement, and I trust that will continue with this test administration as well. I am also looking for other ways to measure our progress and ways to gather data that will help us do an even better job in the future.
Unlike private or parochial schools, our nation's public schools educate every child who enters through the front doors - regardless of his/her educational, physical, or mental challenges. This provides our children an amazing opportunity to learn and grow in a diverse setting and to become productive citizens. It also affords our broader community the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of its young people.
As we continue on this journey together, I hope to get to know the communities, the people, and the programs of this wonderful Island. I also hope that the citizens of the Vineyard will share their thoughts and feelings about our schools with me. I welcome your suggestions and comments and will do what I can to make our school accessible to everyone. Please feel free to call the Superintendent's Office at 508-693-2007 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can make the 2005-06 school year a great learning experience for every student on the Island.
James H. Weiss, EdD
Superintendent of Schools
Close the Oak Bluffs wharf
To the Editor
On Monday, August 15, there was a worse than usual traffic jam around the SSA terminal on Water Street in Vineyard Haven. SSA chairman Marc Hanover (letter, Aug. 18) puts all the blame on a lack of police presence, which he says the Tisbury selectmen should have provided.
Mr. Hanover fails to mention that day's bad-weather closing of the Oak Bluffs wharf, the SSA's very indirect contribution to reducing Tisbury traffic. Even in good weather, the relief is barely noticeable, with only two boats being diverted part time, and many of their vehicles passing through Five Corners anyway. No number of police, regardless of who pays them, can solve the fundamental problem of a bad road layout.
For obvious economic (and now security) reasons, the Vineyard should have only one SSA port year-round, and weather conditions require that it be in Vineyard Haven harbor. It must be difficult for a Circuit Avenue businessman to agree to this idea, but Mr. Hanover's boatline position has an Island-wide constituency. No one is better placed to see that spending fare-payer-provided SSA dollars on a seasonal terminal is folly, particularly when it does so little to relieve conditions at the year-round one.
Instead of squabbling childishly over police payments, Mr. Hanover and the Tisbury selectmen should be discussing seriously the expensive rearrangement of Water Street-Five Corners that is the only possible long-term alternative to bigger and bigger gridlocks. The $10 million with which the SSA proposes to upgrade a seasonal wharf three miles away would be better spent on improving the circulation around its year-round facility.
W. R. Deeble
Drought goes unreported
To the Editor:
Has anyone maybe noticed that we are in a pitched, intense drought this summer here? There hasn't been much mention in the media, but this kind of dryness has to be leading to some consequences beyond just scorched, brown grass and dust-covered roadside brush (and SUVs). I've even noticed some deciduous trees are already dropping their leaves: drought stress. Maybe it's the fact that there has been rain to the north (Greater Boston has had plenty) and the west (Long Island and Rhode Island) and more showers than us even as close as Falmouth. But MV is in this magic dry slot, and it's got to be straining the local water sources by now. Yes, it was a wild, wet winter followed by "no" Spring, but my backyard soil is like brown talcum powder now in late August, with no real rain since early July - just a couple of useless sprinkles as thunderstorms rolled by to the north. Here it's about like Southern California normally gets in late summer...toasted. We need a pattern change, like maybe a nice tropical system to wring out real rain. The sun has been nice, but now it's become too much of a good thing. Let there be no complaints if and when we finally get a rainy day this weird summer season.
To the Editor:
In recent weeks, The New York Times has been printing a series of articles on the experience of being a patient in America today. Being a patient in much of America is often accompanied by exhaustive waiting for care and the humiliating experience of being treated more like an object than a human being. In an article entitled "In the hospital, a degrading shift from person to patient," the story is told of a woman awakened the morning after breast surgery to find that a medical team had removed her gown and was examining her chest. When she protested they seemed indifferent to her discomfort. The author writes, "The small courtesies that help lubricate and dignify civil society are neglected precisely when they are needed most, when people are feeling acutely cut off from others and betrayed by their own bodies."
A hot topic on the Vineyard this summer is whether we really need all of those acute care beds in the proposed new Martha's Vineyard Community Hospital. "Why stay on Martha's Vineyard for care when the best hospitals in the world are so close by?" Well, the fact is that the kind of experiences described by the New York Times would never have happened at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. Physicians, nurses, and nurses aids hold themselves to a higher standard than in larger hospitals. Patients are treated with a high level of dignity and respect because our patients are our neighbors. Our small hospital has lower rates of infection. Doctors and other staff are far more likely to coordinate care and stay in close communication. We have an extraordinarily diverse and accomplished medical staff and close ties to specialists at Mass General. At a time when medical care in America is characterized by poor access to care, objectification of patients, and poor coordination and communication between medical departments, we have a medical system on the Vineyard which is a vestige of another era. We have a system characterized by a deep sense of caring. If one of my family members or I ever need hospitalization for any procedure that is done at Martha's Hospital, my choice will be to stay right here.
Charles H. Silberstein, MD
Reaching out to help
To the Editor:
On Monday, July 24th, I was at Philbin Beach with two of my grandchildren. A very large wave hit a huge log, which in turn hit my ankle and fractured it. The children went for help, and I would like to thank the wonderful people who came to help. I didn't get your names, so this is my public thank you - to a woman in an orange shirt who brought towels and rubbed my back - the lady with a black and white shawl that she put around me, plus her blouse to stem the blood flow - the two gentlemen who knelt holding a towel around my ankle - the man with the cell phone that reached the ambulance and my husband - the dark-haired little boy who waved as I was carried away - Rhandi Belain and the ATV - the three men who carried the backboard (plus me) to the parking lot - the amazing ambulance crew - the competent, caring staff in the ER - and the fantastic airlift crew. You were all thoughtful, gentle, and competent. In an age of not reaching out to help others, I think this proves people are good and do care and reach out to help when needed.
Thank you all. If I have forgotten someone, I apologize. I needed you all and you were there.
Nancy W. Hare
Stomach treated well
To the Editor:
Ralph Graves said it all in his August 19th Gazette column. Well, maybe not all. I was in the hospital the same time he was, and I agree with everything he said, but he left out one important praiseworthy item - the hospital food. Perhaps because of his abdominal surgery, he couldn't enjoy the meals that I did, having had only a knee replacement, which didn't affect my stomach. Look at this:
Panko Crusted Brie with Raspberry Drizzle over Mixed Greens, Nuts, Grape Tomatoes, & Carmelized Onions; or Broccoli & Cheese Quiche, Mixed Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette; or
Chicken Caesar Salad with Herb Breadstick.
Sounds like Cafe Moxie, doesn't it? Or a night out at Zephrus. But these were just three of the daily lunch and dinner specials on the hospital menu. I couldn't wait, each morning, to fill out my menu choices for the next three meals. Many thanks to Chris Porterfield and the other workers of culinary magic - Paul, Sharon, Steve, Mark, and Chris. One more reason to choose our Vineyard hospital over an off-Island institution.
Shirley W. Mayhew
To the Editor:
We are fortunate on the Vineyard to have two quality newspapers to read and evaluate. Competition always seems to raise the bar a bit higher. Each paper has its various enthusiasts and critics, each has its strong qualities, each has its weaker traits.
I think it's a healthy competition - a win/win situation for us all. Every year each paper walks away with more than their share of awards at the New England Press Association convention, for which they should each be proud.
That being said, the Time's recent sniping at the Vineyard Gazette over their expanded coverage of the Graham/West Tisbury tax evaluation controversy is unwarranted and a bit unseemly.
The fact that Dick Reston and Julie Wells have ties with the Graham family has not biased the reportage, as far as I can read. The Gazette hasn't taken an editorial position either way - just printed the facts. Whatever the end result, I think this case will have lasting repercussions throughout our Island community. It's a story that interests many of us, regardless of our friendships or affiliations.
The Times might take less time devoting itself to taking their competition's inventory, and put that energy towards more careful production of their own product. While I don't consider the MV Times a "throwaway" paper by any means, I do think that there is always room for improvement. Putting a competitor down in order to raise one's own superiority is an undignified tact. It never works. Also, stating that the Times is gaining in readership while the Gazette is losing its audience needs some real verification.
The New York Post and Daily News (and Newsday) are always slinging arrows at each other. But this is the Vineyard, and we should rise above such needlessÅ]quarrels. Each editor and publisher should tone down the rhetoric, and stick to dealing with the sort of issues that have a truly meaningful impact upon our community.
Editor's note: Peter Simon, a professional photographer who regularly works for the Vineyard Gazette, refers to a news story published in The Times on August 4 (Graham tax fight generates plenty of ink) that described the extensive news coverage accorded the legal battle over property assessments between William Graham, who owns 235 acres off Lambert's Cove Road and the town of West Tisbury.
The Times reported that since May 6, when the case first began, the Gazette has published 13 news stories about it (and four more since), 11 of which began on the front page. The paper has also published two editorials.
The Times also reported on the close personal relationship that has existed between the Reston and Graham families and that Julia Wells, editor of the Vineyard Gazette, has been living in a cottage on Mr. Graham's property.
The Times story spawned an exchange between a reporter for the Boston Globe and Richard "Dick" Reston, publisher of the Vineyard Gazette which was described in a short item published on August 13 (Taxing relationships).
The Globe story described The Times report and said Mr. Reston "roared" over the phone that the Gazette's coverage had nothing to do with family, friendships or Ms. Wells living arrangements, which he said were irrelevant.
Mr. Reston told the Globe that The Times is "a throwaway paper" and the story is not worth dealing with.
As to whether The Times decision to reveal that Ms. Wells is living on Mr. Graham's estate even as she directs news coverage, a fact not yet disclosed by the Gazette to its readers, is partisan sniping not worth reporting we leave to readers to decide.
As for declining circulation, according to the Gazette's published postal statement of ownership, management, and circulation, in 2000, the average number of paid Gazette subscriptions outside Dukes County numbered 6,042. In-county subscriptions accounted for 2,019, and newsstand sales numbered 3,513.
According to the Gazette's 2004 postal statement published on Sept. 28, 2004, average paid outside subscriptions were 4,914; in-county subscriptions fell to 1,896; and newsstand sales dropped to 3,087.
In the dead of winter in January 2005 The Times delivered 9,825 newspapers to Island postal customers. Another 2,315 were delivered to Island inns and newsstands.
Last week, The Times delivered 12,275 newspapers to Island post offices and 5,360 to newsstands and inns.
Tell both sides of the story
Letter to the Editor:
Myself and family are very disappointed with the Vineyard Gazette story published Tuesday regarding an ongoing dispute over land access to properties along Moshup Trail in Aquinnah.
Ian Fein's story is replete with errors including repeatedly attributing a Massachusetts Court of Appeals reversal of a 2001 land court decision to the wrong judge. It was the Hon. Fredrick L. Brown, not Leon J. Lombardi, who wrote the decision issued earlier this month, which returns this case to land court.
Mr. Fein also reports of a potential to develop "more than 100 landlocked lots" in a vast area of "rare coastal heathland" to complete an artful portrayal of a threat to conservation efforts.
In reality the case involves nine lots spread over 35 acres, none of which is within the heathland habitat. But that takes color off his pallet.
And while these grossly exaggerated statements churn frenzy among environmentalists, he fails to tell the story of environmentally conscious landowners like my grandmother and myself who have been denied rights to two lots for many years.
My grandmother, Eleanor Harding, had been involved in this dispute over her landlocked parcel for more than 30 years. She died waiting for access to her land in 2003.
As Native American people, natural stewards of the earth, we are no threat to the environment, and only seek to establish homesteads in what has been our ancestral homeland. Our two parcels combined, less than six acres, would accommodate two homes.
I spoke to Ian Fein about this; however he made it clear he was not interested in that part of the story. The big bad developer vs. the conservationists is obviously a much sexier story and fits within the Gazette agenda.
I sincerely hope that any future stories the Gazette writes about this issue will be based on the facts and much more carefully reported.
Mark D. Harding
Bike to the Fair
To The Editor:
My daughters and I went to The Fair this morning. We had fun. I had told them that we were on a $100 budget. $28 for 36 tickets that didn't last long. $15 to toss a basketball threw a hoop for them to win a $1 stuffed toy worm. $9.50 for two soft-serve ice cream cones. A couple of cool but expensive magic tricks for $15. Various toys and games, and the funds soon came to an end. Exorbitant prices even by Vineyard standards.
Included in that $100 was the $18 just to walk through the gate. Last year, I found out for the first time that those who rode the bus got a discount over those who drove their cars. I think it's a great idea.
How long has this policy been in effect? Last year, my children and I had ridden our bicycle to The Fair from Oak Bluffs as we have done for many years past. I was rather dismayed that they had never considered those who travel by bicycle.
On August 18, 2004, I wrote a letter to The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society stating my concerns over their inconsistent policies. I never got a reply from my letter. Much to my surprise their policy had not changed.
This morning, I, with my children, sought out the office at the Ag Fair and asked a group of people about this inconsistency. I told them that I had mailed a letter to them a year ago with those same concerns and had not received a reply. I told them that I had also sent that letter to The Times. The Times printed it.
A lady named Eleanor said she had never seen the letter. I asked for a partial refund then and there, and Eleanor told me that they would have to take it up at the next meeting.
There were quite a few bicycles parked out front this morning and even more when we were leaving. You would think that the use of bicycles would be as much encouraged as using our growing transit system, rather than supporting the ever-growing burden to Martha's Vineyard that is the automobile.
There appear to be even more cars on the roads than ever before. More gridlock in places I have never seen it before. I swear there are those who would drive to the bathroom if they could.
It's time the Agricultural Society and the town of West Tisbury help set an example. Limit parking and encourage alternate means of transportation.
I won't bother to mail this letter to the M.V.A.S., as the last letter I mailed to them seemed to have disappeared.
Rotate the shark derby
To the Editor:
Hi. I would like to share an idea I have about the Oak Bluffs Shark Derby.
Instead of just having it in Oak Bluffs, I think they should have it in different places. Maybe like Nantucket or the Cape because the shark population is getting very low around here and people are very upset about it. So if you do it in other places then the shark population will get bigger in each place.
Liam Brine, Age 10
Listen and learn about the Y
To the Editor:
We can find evidence to be negative against anything positive, and our fears can get the best of us. Especially such fears when you don't get the answers you want or for some reason don't trust the answers you get. Sometimes even those answers become the basis for fear and speculation.
When it comes to the YMCA, I attended selectmen's meetings years ago when this group first came on to the radar screen. I heard their proposal, their location and about their desire to help the community. I listened to their message, and I failed to find their hidden agenda, the evil that they supposedly are spreading or the destruction they will leave in their wake. I researched the YMCA on the Internet and read their philosophy, business strategy and marketing ideas. Not believing in everything I read, I followed up with meetings and spoke to some of the people that are intimately involved with the YMCA and it's details. I signed on early and developed a trust of those that are involved in the YMCA and their desire to help the Island community.
I understand the Goldsteins' hesitation to come out and support a project that could be detrimental to the future of their business.
I know. I was there.
When the Tisbury Inn was being rebuilt, renamed and made over, I was concerned what impact a brand new, state-of-the-art, 32-room hotel with restaurant, health club, and retail shopping would have on my business. But instead of letting my fears get the best of me, I listened to their message and believed in them and their project. Instead of coming out and opposing the project, I supported it. I wrote letters of support, I stood up at zoning board meetings and urged them to move swiftly to get this project started in order to bring people back to Main Street, Vineyard Haven. Then I did exactly what Harvey Hinds of Edgartown suggested in his letter to the editor. I concentrated my efforts on providing improved services and tried to differentiate myself and my small eight-room Inn from a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 32-room hotel with restaurant, health club, and retail shopping complex.
What the Goldsteins have given us is a lovely cornerstone to Vineyard Haven. Clean, inviting, and open year-round to serve not only their guests but Vineyard Haven businesses, the Island, and visitors. No disputing that. But to line up and oppose the YMCA prior to letting others hear the good message of the YMCA is trying to derail the process. In some instances, the very same process the Goldsteins had to go through to get the Mansion House built.
Let the process take place, let the Island people make up their own mind, if they even care to. If the process is flawed, which I don't believe it is, then change the process.
Equal coverage requested
To the Editor:
We were dismayed by the prominent place that the MV Times gave to Zachary Iscol's account of his service in Iraq. The Iraq war is an unmitigated disaster and should not be portrayed as an heroic struggle. No one knows why we are there, and the rationales change almost daily. The only thing that remains constant is the death toll.
In the same week that Lt. Iscol spoke, a group of 60 anti-war protesters gathered at Five Corners to participate in a vigil in support of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a murdered American soldier who has been vainly trying to meet with President Bush to find out why her son died. We trust that The Times will give this protest as prominent a place in the paper as it did Lt. Iscol's talk.
We mourn the unnecessary deaths of all the Americans and Iraqis who have been killed in this pointless exercise. To kill more will not make the situation any better. End the war now!
Ellen and Steve Levine
A good face on a bad war
To the Editor:
This reader will pass on Lt. Zachary Iscol's speech on August 18 about his experiences in war-torn Iraq. Apparently Iscol believes "there is a severe lack of perspective on how this war is going" in most news reports. I doubt the lieutenant is referring to the mainstream media's sorry coverage of the lies and deception that led up to the invasion or the Bush regime's ongoing propaganda that perpetuates a war that should never have been fought. Perhaps he is referring to reports of growing body count and maiming of our troops, most of them lately being National Guard and reservists who are needed here at home to actually defend the nation.
It's hard to put a good face on a bad war: an adventure, at least as far as Iraq is concerned, all about empire and oil being sold as a gift of freedom. Whatever "good" that results from this quagmire will be at the needless cost of lives and fortunes.
Since Lt. Iscol is back in the States trying to put that good face on this bad war, and since he's friendly with the Clintons, maybe he should check in with the former First Family and the majority of U.S. citizens who believe this war is bogus.
Kudos to Edgartown lifeguards
To the Editor,
We wish to congratulate the Edgartown lifeguards for a very successful "All-Island Swim Competition" on August 19. We also wish to thank all of those businesses that sponsored the event.
This was a wonderfully fun Island event for swimmers age 10 to 14. The course at the Bend-In-The-Road beach was challenging with the choppy conditions, but all of the participants gave a great swim.
The Edgartown lifeguards did a fabulous job organizing and running the event. With continued sponsorship from local Island businesses, this should be an ongoing successful community event and a great opportunity for both native Vineyarders and visitors to the Island.
Kudos to Jody and the Bend-In-The-Road lifeguards. Congratulations.
Steven and Jane Hirshberg
Elkins Park, Penn.