Letters to the Editor
A good friend
To the Editor:
Arthur Flathers died on April 10, at age 75. Art was bright, passionate, fact and data oriented, analytical, generous, caring, and God fearing - a unique blend of traits not often found in an individual.
Art gave generously of his time and energy to an array of Vineyard needs he felt drawn to. A number of these areas were noted in Dan Cabot's fine Appreciation and Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson's meeting minutes synopsis, noting, "he will be missed."
From an Old Tisbury High School friend and teammate, rest in peace.
A bad deal
To the Editor:
This letter was written to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service.
I am writing in opposition to the proposed Cape Wind project.
It is environmentally costly:
Thousands of tons of heavy equipment being moved into the delicate environment of the Nantucket Sound with huge potential for accidents and pollution, changing tidal flows and chasing out the local fishermen.
No comprehensive study has been done to weigh the amount of fossil fuel (the embedded energy) used in the manufacture, installation and maintenance of the windmills telling us when and if there will be an energy gain they propose to provide over their lifetime.
There are important questions that should be answered about the decommissioning process to ensure that Nantucket Sound does not end up as a junkyard.
It is politically costly:
Estimated financial support from taxpayers is around $1.3 billion over the life of the project. Taxpayers are giving up 25 square miles of public property to a private, profit-making company with nothing in return.
One billion could make a huge contribution toward supporting individual families to provide solar hot water or lower impact energy savers, which would be a much less environmentally costly and dependable way to reduce our carbon footprint.
This environmentally questionable wind farm does not address the need to reduce our usage of fossil fuels. In fact, it probably adds to our carbon footprint by its assumption that we need ever more sources of power.
In 1960s, where I live on Martha's Vineyard, I built a windmill for my farm animals - ducks, geese and chickens. It made two small ponds and a stream and on a good day pumped 20,000 gallons of water. It lasted for six or so years, and went through many hurricane force winds, but the worst weather was an ice storm that threw the windmill off balance.
In comparison, 33 years ago, I installed three solar collectors on my roof. They are still working today and have outlasted the roof shingles. Over those 33 years, they have cut my power consumption for hot water over 75 percent. This is extremely simple technology. It would have taken a lot of fossil fuels to produce that much hot water. I estimate my three solar collectors produce about two megawatt hours of electricity per year and their area is equal to three sheets of plywood on my roof.
So far as I can tell, the only green thing about the proposed wind farm is the color of the huge amount of taxpayer dollars being invested into it. As might be expected, Cape Wind is promulgating a massive propaganda and disinformation campaign: a test tower in Nantucket Sound was put up to get local information about the wind, but it appears that test information was taken from the wind conditions in the North Sea. Mark Rogers stated that the 1938 hurricane, which is the standard for damaging winds, had been downgraded to a Category 3 to reassure us that building the windmills to withstand a Category 4 hurricane - in the face of climate change which is creating more Category 5 hurricanes - would be adequate.
Let's look at the real costs of this proposed wind farm. There will be at least 100,000 tons of metal in the whole wind farm. Add to that, transportation, construction and maintenance, large boats with potential for oil leaks, etc., not to mention environmental impacts we won't know until it's too late. How many years will it take for those windmills to pay for the fossil fuel it took to create them so we actually get a positive energy flow from them? And what's the best-case scenario for how long they'll last compared to how much they'll cost in fossil fuel?
This private, profit-making company is setting public policy, rather than the other way around. If the decision on the Cape Wind project is about the common good and reducing our carbon footprint, it seems that over a Billion dollars in subsidies taken from U.S. taxpayers arid given to a private corporation to develop wind power on 25 square miles of public territory is not a good deal for the people who are paying for it and very questionable resource savings. If as public policy we were to dedicate a billion dollars to reducing our carbon footprint, it is most unlikely we would choose to do it this way. We could subsidize the people who are paying to encourage development of renewable resources and help the whole country be invested in the process. If we want to reduce our carbon footprint, let's give big tax incentives to people to install solar hot water heaters or some other efficient forms of renewable energy that will clearly lessen our carbon footprint. If we invested $80,000,000 per year (the amount of the tax subsidy to Cape Wind) we could give $1,000 in subsidies to 80,000 families to promote use of energy-saving technologies. It probably takes only one or two years to pay back the environment for the manufacture of a solar hot water heater (for the glass, copper, aluminum etc.). How long will it take us to pay back the fossil fuel debt for the existence of those windmills?
In summary, the Cape Wind project proposes to use public territory and public money for a questionable private venture, which may or may not produce electricity at a huge cost to the environment and to the people. If we were considering subsidizing the reduction of our carbon footprint to the tune of over one billion dollars, would we ever choose such an environmentally costly private venture? Not likely. We would choose to subsidize we the people, to solve the problem more quickly and at much less environmental expense.
Kenneth Malcolm Jones
To the Editor:
So, boating season is upon us, again, and of course this means trying to pick off the boaters as they try to cross the road at the Martha's Vineyard Shipyard.
Does it strike anyone else as a potentially good idea to perhaps paint thick yellow lines across the road to mark their migratory path, maybe throw up some signs of Sperry Topsiders flying free of their respective feet as a symbol of what could happen, maybe a blinkie light or two, and otherwise making it known that these guys will cross the street with the same careless attitude as a herd of wild turkeys, the cheeky scuppers, and we ought to look out for them?
They're like daredevil lemmings that actually would prefer to live, ostensibly to sail, and I find them most disconcerting.
Don't stop and talk
To the Editor:
It's time to put an end to an exception that has become a most annoying norm. Instead of coming right out with it, please allow me to set this all too familiar scene:
You're driving along, attempting to sing melodically to whatever tune is on the radio - just trying to get from Point A to Point B without much delay - when all of the sudden you are confronted with such a blatant display of rudeness you're at a loss for words (except for the profane ones, which are flowing nice and easy). What you are witnessing in front of you (or two cars in front) is a metaphorical "half-a-peace-sign" being thrown in your general direction by a motorist and a pedestrian.
Here it is: Can someone please tell me when a casual chat between a pedestrian and a motorist with many cars behind him became acceptable? For it is stupefying that these people have such blind disregard for those who are innocently waiting to continue on their way to their destination. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are "deep, meaningful conversations" happening between these heads of state that cannot be solved on the phone or, God forbid, later on when Mr. or Ms. Hot Rodder has parked his ride.
Lest you think me curmudgeonly, let's cite the numerous problems with this darling little ritual:
It's rude. It's wasteful (in time and fuel). Harms the environment (one idling vehicle forces many others to do the same). It jacks the blood pressure. It's rude.
I'm actually shocked that there isn't some sort of existing code violation on the books for this. I'm equally shocked that there haven't been more reported incidences of road rage as a result of this "phenom" (and with our tourist season upon us, I fear that this "motorist-pedestrian familiarity" just might encourage some hot-tempered Tri-Stater to jump out of his car and start swinging, or worse).
I do believe it's time to petition our legislators to propose a law that makes it illegal to engage in any motorist-pedestrian conversation - $100 fine for the driver, $50 for the walker. Jaywalking, spitting, or throwing up on the sidewalk is much less offensive than this sort of nonsense.
Oh, and while we're at it, how 'bout we siphon $100 from those cool dudes with the loud sound systems in their cars?
Softball Friday; be there
To the Editor:
It was just about this time of year that softball addict and sunglass maven Andrew Aliberti suggested to me that we revive our longstanding pick-up softball dramas at the Manter Field in West Tisbury. The games had been dormant for almost five years due to attrition and apathy. So, I went along with his hunch that the time was ripe for a new beginning.
Little did we realize how robust the enthusiasm would grow. During the heat of summer, we often played with six outfielders, in a somewhat misguided effort to leave no one behind. But the games were played with great passion and animation, and to our great delight, with very little discord and few injuries. The passion for our eccentric encounters was so enduring that the contents lasted late into the fall, eventually migrating to Vineyard Haven under the lights.
The forecast for this Friday at 5 pm is softball friendly, so why not play two? All you need to bring is your glove and a fun-loving attitude. Folks of all ages, sexes, and levels of proficiency are welcomed. I'll even be there, despite off-season knee replacement surgery. My co-captain, Dick Binder, will also be present with his "do anything to win" work ethic. A fun time is gauranteed for all.
Not an improvement
To the Editor:
It is with great regret to read that you have discontinued Arlan Wise's astrology column, which we've been reading since it was first published, 19 years ago. Each morning it would be read and thought would be given to the day ahead, paying heed to whether it would be a good day to plant or a better day to weed the garden; a good day for paperwork or a better day to clean out a closet; a day to search within or a better day to spend with friends; a day to take action or a better day to plan taking action.
The Martha's Vineyard Times would always stay in the house for the two-week period covered by the column, a longer period than most newspapers are kept around, which in turn would benefit the advertisers.
We feel discontinuing Arlan's column has not improved the Martha's Vineyard Times.
Sue Angeley and Bruce Schaffner
Favors Bradley Square development
To the Editor:
I am 100 percent in favor of the proposed Bradley Square project. My reasons are many.
When Oak Bluffs (Cottage City) was founded, the first major and heavily populated neighborhoods were downtown. Businesses and residents lived side by side in a very compact and totally integrated location. This tradition that helped to define the character of Oak Bluffs still exists today.
As the population grew, the residential areas spread out. In 1974, zoning became more definitive with the classifications of Residential 1, 2, 3 and Business 1 & 2.
There are a total of approximately 4,500 acres of land in Oak Bluffs.
There are approximately 11 acres of B1 zoned property in Oak Bluffs.
In 1998, the town voted to accept a master plan that stressed the wishes not to expand the business B1 zoning and to keep businesses in the downtown neighborhoods.
Since 1880, there have been many changes in our town. The permitted area for businesses has changed very little. Home businesses have increased enormously.
It is vitally important that what little land we have in Oak Bluffs that is devoted to B1 business be utilized as such.
Currently we have a mixed use in the B1, Dukes County Avenue neighborhood. Residents are finding more and more businesses opening very close by.
The use of the property proposed by the Bradley Square project is an ideal combination for this neighborhood. It is not an intense business use; it fits more with the residential component and will help to enhance the growing community of galleries and retail shops that have begun to establish a presence in the area.
It will provide affordable housing and workplace for artists and retail space for their work. It will preserve an important historic landmark and restore the public use of a building that was once a center for the African-American community. It will promote the original character and tradition of our town that encouraged a symbiotic relationship between businesses and residential properties.
Oak Bluffs is a vibrant Victorian Seaside summer resort that has developed into a vibrant community of year-round residents who have chosen to live in a vibrant Victorian Seaside summer resort that has become a vibrant year-round community.
We are unique to the island, to New England, to the United States and to the world. What a treasure. The Bradley Square project will only enhance this unique and wonderful town we call home.
As an artist, I just want to say that I have lost many artist friends who have had to leave the Vineyard because they could not afford to live and work here. This project will help to change that and give artists the opportunity to own a home and work space as well as a place to show and sell their work.
Free speech, but
To the Editor:
As an Oak Bluffs resident, artist and gallery owner, I have loved our town for its nurturing of a diverse community.
I was saddened at our recent town meetings when disrespectful remarks were made about ethnic minorities and artists.
We, as caring citizens, need to stand up to those people who would make any kind of disparaging statements about any group or profession whose only goal in life is to enrich the very fabric of our community.
America was founded on the principle of free speech - but it does not give anyone a right to trample on the dignity of others, and we as citizens should never tolerate that language or behavior under any circumstances.
I was appalled by the remarks, and I knew I had to comment. I am specifically referring to comments made regarding the Bradley Square project which in my opinion embraces the arts, the NAACP, affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity, the neighborhood, and historic preservation, which will enrich the Arts District in our beautiful town.
High post mortem costs
To the Editor:
Death and taxes in Nicaragua:
I am listening to the current big debate about paying for burial space, the fee for which is a source of revenue for the towns here.
If you are buried in a cemetery, your family has to pay a tax of more than 1,800 cordobas ($100) a year to keep you there - like paying rent. If your family does not pay, you will be dug up, your body put on the ground and a new body is put in your place. And the rate you must pay town hall depends on the location in the cemetery. You pay more for a better location, location, location. That $100 represents about one month's salary.
People on the local TV channel 8 are talking about the burden of having to pay so much, in essence to rent your final resting place. Because of the heat, people are usually buried within 24 hours, so if you have not paid the month's rent for one family space, the next to pass on will just have to hang out and wait for you to catch up on your payments before being buried too.
The irony is that real estate taxes on nice homes are about $50 a year. But when you die, be prepared to shell out double that amount for a small space for your bones to rest.
Now, the towns are hungry to increase the size of their cemeteries in anticipation of growing their revenue.
And for those who cannot pay, for the very poor, there is always the town dump. I could not make this up. Be grateful all of you for what we have in the U.S.A. Can any of you imagine this happening on Martha's Vineyard?
Keep the faith.
Gruesome Oak Bluffs images
To the Editor:
This letter was written to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.
Recent photos and articles in the Boston Globe and Herald featuring violence are often on the front page because violence sells newspapers. Examples include: Mother murders girlfriend of her child's father. Father loses custody of children and murders them and himself. Three young males and one female make a gasoline firebomb and toss it into bedroom of children with whose parents they had earlier argued. Husband kills wife and himself after having been served with restraining order. Teenage gang members kill each other in retaliation and kill a young child with stray bullet. And in the Gazette, woman violently chokes the girlfriend of her child's father.
A recent article in the Globe describing the controversy over the Oak Bluffs Shark Tournament included a photo taken last summer depicting a crowd of women, men, and children at the harbor applauding the sight of a dead, but bleeding, shark hanging to be weighed. This photo reminded me of one taken in Mississippi in the 1930s, depicting a crowd of women, men, and children applauding the sight of two dead negroes hanging by their necks from two trees.
Joseph Sequeira Vera
Oak Bluffs and Cambridge
To the Editor:
On Sunday, April 13, the Island Community Chorus presented Mendelssohn's Elijah to a full house at the Performing Arts Center at the high school. Members of the audience and the chorus felt this was an outstanding and rewarding experience, and the accolades are still arriving.
In this day of threatening cuts to the music programs on-Island, I would like to point out several aspects of this concert. The orchestra included many highly professional musicians from the Boston music circles. However, there were also many members of our Island music faculty, equally highly professional: Brian Weiland, head of the music department at Oak Bluffs; Mike Tinus, a teacher with the outstanding Island String Program; Julie Schilling, instrumental music department head at the Tisbury School, and Anne Davey, a teacher at the Tisbury School. Also in the orchestra was Sophia Saunders-Jones, a Martha's Vineyard Regional High School alumna. Two of the soprano soloists also studied music at our high school. Abigail Southard is a graduate and Hannah Marlin is currently in her sophomore year there.
It is also necessary to point out that Peter Boak, who trained the chorus and conducted the concert, is the vocal music teacher at the Tisbury School. I think this speaks volumes about the outstanding job our music faculty is doing, and I would strongly urge that the budget committee look elsewhere to find ways to cut expenses. Our music students are certainly worth the maintaining all aspects of our obviously successful music programs.
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Peace Council applauds Edgartown and Tisbury voters for approving the Iraq resolution, which states:
"We call upon our congressional representatives to vote against additional Iraq occupation funds, and to approve only those funds necessary for the safe and rapid withdrawal of all our troops from Iraq."
Town clerks are sending the resolution to Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Reid, Representatives Delahunt and Pelosi, and George W. Bush. The Peace Council encourages individuals to contact them as well. (Addresses and phone numbers can be found on green page 35 of The Island Book.)
A life manifesto
To the Editor:
Life has happened and will continue to happen; changing the past is a fruitless fantasy dreamed up by heartbroken, resentful, sad people as a justification to do evil: "I wish I could change that; I should not have done that", etc. I know now that wishing things had gone a different way is futile. This, the way things stand now, is the way things were meant to turn out. Our lives are meant to be full of pain, suffering and regret; just as they are meant to contain happiness and joy. It is all part of the human experience. It is how we deal with these feelings and actions, how we grow into success, or fall farther into the dark, that defines us as individuals.
Rather than wallow in regret I have chosen to move forward. I have lost far too much of myself in the time since my second semester at San Jose State. I have lost aspects of myself that friends and family miss and others still that have yet to be seen.
I am not the boy I used to be and I have grown into a man I do not desire to be. I am confident that I can rebuild these traits, in time, with hard work and diligence. There are parts of me, however, that did not exist before my trials and tribulations in college; that are now a very strong part of who I am. Now that they are a part of me, I cannot just strip them off and toss them aside. I have to retool them, work with them, train them and integrate them into my being. They will work in harmony with my body and no longer crave and believe that drugs of any kind are their fuel and their inspiration.
I am ready to be free of the restraints of addiction. I am tired of being held back from own potential; my very soul and mind used to keep me complacent and alive, if just barely, until I die. My only role in the world acting as a consumer of goods, black or white economic markets aside. I am not going to stand for that, I will not fail where I have before. For the first time in my life I can admit that certain drugs, even in moderation are just horrible; while others I accept as okay to use in extreme moderation; moderation I know I was not able to use; and can admit as much.
I am going to Martha's Vineyard, not run from lost love or money problems or even California itself, but to prove to myself and others that success and not just tragedy can come from Martha's Vineyard's youths and adults. It is not just a summer hot spot, full of drug and alcohol abusing natives. People have just lost hope of ever leaving, they have no drive and feel like rats stranded on a sinking ship. They need to realize that where they live is rare and that instead of consuming themselves with how much it stinks and how to get away. They must realize, to live on Martha's Vineyard year-round in a privilege as much as it is a challenge. They might find that in owning up to that challenge a skill, hidden until now, will be discovered. Or a simple idea with that possibility to improve their lives as much as everyone else's, could make it through the depression and contempt and bring a new positive light into the community.
I feel like Martha's Vineyard has already had its death sentence written, more and more Islanders are forced to move because of money, family, etc. Martha's Vineyard will become just a resort Island, and I do not want to see that happen to my home. I want to show my cousin Nicholas Drake, that even though it's too late to save him, that someone did and does still care. And whenever I get tired, bored, or angry, or tempted to use any drug (even pot) I am going to remember his face, his smile, and his laugh. I will remember I am doing this for him and all those others who also died in such a pointless way, lives not even partially lived. I am going to remember that I am doing this for my health, mental and physical, and to set a good example for my youngest sister, her friends, and anyone else with an open mind.
Eben Lars Elias Jr.
The Vineyard Conservation Society and SBS, The Grain Store, should be congratulated for the extraordinary success of the Earth Day beach clean-up and the terrific picnic/ barbeque provided by SBS. Not only did it foster awareness and community spirit, the SBS barbeque also brought together hundreds of volunteers of all ages. What a delightful, rewarding way to welcome spring.