Letters to the Editor
Something for all
To the Editor,
Thank you for the wonderful article last week on our recreation department and the activities that we provide for the residents of Windemere ("A bid at Windemere's auction buys residents fun").
Tomorrow evening we will hold our auction to benefit the residents' activity programs.
Windemere is home to 75 of the Island's elderly, Islanders who have worked hard all their lives and now deserve all that we can give to them. Our goal is to make this time of their lives as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible.
As Mother Teresa said so eloquently, "In these times of development, everybody is in a hurry and everybody's in a rush, and on the way there are people falling down, who are not able to compete. These are the ones we want to love and serve and take care of."
We invite the Island community to come to the Agricultural Hall tomorrow from 6-8 pm and see the incredible items that are up for auction.
Come for the wine and desserts. There will be something for everyone.
Recreation Therapy Director
A great time
To the Editor:
I want to thank you for sponsoring the Washington DC trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I had a great time and met children from around the world. To top that off, I met other kids who loved to study, play sports, and could relate to me socially. The other kids and I got to know each other and had fun together, whether it was encouraging each other to do well on the preliminary test, playing with each other during various sports, cruising around a 17th century farm, or introducing each other to our families (one girl was from Seoul Korea, and her entire family couldn't speak English).
The Washington DC trip was not only fun because of the Spelling Bee, but I also saw some interesting places, like the Holocaust Museum, Air and Space Museum, and even saw these metal poles that stood in the middle of a street and when you touched their bright blue sensors, they created noise.
Even though the Spelling Bee was called the national spelling bee, there were kids from other countries. There was a kid there from Seoul Korea and another from Jamaica. I liked the Spelling Bee because there was a lot of diversity. In fact, there were even more kids of color than there were white kids. Many people think of Spelling Bee kids as people who wear glasses, have acne, and that you study all the time. Not true. Although some kids were like that, most of them weren't. Some played on school sports teams, organized groups to help the earth, collected gold coins, and volunteered to help the community. They weren't just two-dimensional.
Even if you did not progress during the bee, you were still treated like a winner. You got to watch the other spellers compete and share ideas and thoughts with people. Adults and even Tom B. treated you like geniuses. Here is a picture. I even got his signature.
I met the first ever winner of the National spelling bee (now 94 years old). His word was "gladiolus." He told everyone, "Hey, there were only eight spellers. I had to get it right."
I wanted to thank you again for sponsoring trip, because I had a fun time and met many new kids that I keep in touch with. Sincerely (used to have a hard time spelling that),
Ticketing without justification
To the Editor:
Last weekend provided two different aspects of life on the Island: delight and dismay.
On Saturday and Sunday, a group called the Boston area roadsters brought a number of shiningly restored vintage cars. Part of the welcome the Island offers this group, apparently, is permission to park on both sides of Lake Avenue, which is the road that runs along the base of Oak Bluffs Harbor, for the three days of their annual meeting.
So far, so good. It's fun to see them; and it's fun to see all the people who come to see them. The only sour note, it turned out, as we sat on the porch of a Lake Avenue campground cottage to enjoy the scene, was when we noticed that a perhaps well-intentioned policeman was issuing tickets to any non-vintage car that was parked on the "wrong" side of the street. There was no warning sign to suggest that ordinary non-vintage cars were not permitted there. Sadly, we watched as innocent drivers, happy to spot an empty space, pulled in, and walked off rejoicing, unaware that very shortly the traffic cop would arrive to write out a ticket.
Sitting out on our porch, we watched this small, semi-tragic drama unfold, and as we watched one of the vintage cars pull out (and those old autos were constantly going and coming) and an innocent and ignorant contemporary car pull in, we obeyed our best instincts and went over to warn the driver of the inevitable ticket they would shortly receive.
But this time the ticketing process may have hit a snag. The woman who got out of the car was not a helpless protester. It was Arnie Arnesen, who, on radio station WCCM, hosts a talk program from 6 to 9 am each weekday morning that is called Chowder in the Morning and takes aim at the foibles and fables of the people who live and travel in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and surrounding areas. She had already been tagged once, earlier in the day, and was determined to fight for justice for herself and others, similarly unwarned and similarly ticketed for a crime they had unwittingly committed.
I offer warning, therefore, to whoever is parking czar of Oak Bluffs, harried as I know he (or she) must be as the season of too many cars and too few places to park is on us, that a woman with three hours each morning to share what's on her mind may have something to say this week. New Englanders fought against taxation without representation. Ms. Arnesen may urge them to fight a lesser struggle against ticketing without justification and may lead her many faithful listeners to stage an Oak Bluffs tea party of their own. As an Islander, I naturally hope we don't get so many visitors that we'll sink into the sea; but also as an Islander, I want the visitors who come to be treated fairly.
Senseless county government - again
To the Editor:
I must have been getting soft. All the comments coming from the Dukes County Charter Study Commission about the importance of preserving the county and their recommendations to support an almost unchanged county structure had started to affect me and make me think that perhaps I was missing something.
Fortunately, I have been brought back to reality. The Dukes County commissioners have once again snatched disaster from the jaws of victory.
The proposal to require licenses for parties of 20 people or more on Joseph Sylvia State Beach is right in line with the good old county I know. Remember that county engineer issuing parking tickets to cars parked along the beach?
This idea is unworkable, unfriendly, and not deserving of our time and consideration. How far away do blankets have to be to not constitute a party? Can you stop and talk to people you know or do you have to count heads first?
I am sure there are many appropriate rules to obey, and cleaning up should certainly be necessary, but permits? Let's get together on the beach after I run to the county office and get a permit. Does that sound like summer fun?
Honestly, Mr. County Commissioner, I don't know these kids. I gave them a hot dog because they looked hungry.
Nothing pristine about South Beach
To the Editor:
Ah, the Vineyard, a respite from the rest of life, where the food is better, the bike paths call to the reluctant cyclist, the homes and gardens are worthy of Lilliputian Martha Stewarts. Then there's the Martha's Vineyard Museum, a jumble of whale bones and boats, period photos, garb and gear, shipwrecks and tales of rescue. It isn't every town that basks in such a colorful history, plus sand, water and breezes.
After the museum, my fiancée and I rode south, among blowing clouds, past three men pushing a plane backwards off the runway. With the treetops shrouded, not flying was probably wise. When the dunes appeared out of the fog, however, it was suddenly as if we'd strayed to the mainland. We parked our bikes among beer bottles. Sun bleached bags hung from the snow fence, spilling picnic detritus. And cigarette butts and plastic lined the way to the surf.
We picked up the broken glass and things small enough for wildlife to eat, stuffing a grocery bag's worth into my daypack. About a barrel's worth of garbage remains. If only there'd been a barrel there, or if all visitors packed something out, we could have cherished a bit longer the image of pristine desolation that is probably the Island's greatest gift.
Time for fresh energy to bear a hand
To the Editor:
Following are excerpts of a letter to the Dukes County Commission, the Dukes County Charter Study Commission, and the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
This is to inform you of my intention to retire from some of the public service positions I now hold. The effective date is June 30, 2008, for the county commission, Martha's Vineyard Commission, and charter study commission. If this is not sufficient notice, I would be willing to change the effective date to July 31, 2008. I wish to continue to be part of the Island Plan steering committee.
Up front, I wish to assure you that this action is not related to any recent activities of the county commission, charter study commission, Martha's Vineyard Commission, or Island Plan organization. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work on all those organizations. My decision to retire at this time is based solely on age and age related healthcare issues.
My adult life has been characterized by strong pulls to serve others with direct sacrifice to my family. In early days, they were my job and the U.S. Navy; more recently it has been public service positions on the Vineyard, relating primarily to conservation, land use, and environmental protection.
My wife, Marion, mostly, raised the children, tended the animals, managed the household, and handled all manner of household chores and emergencies. Marion and I are now both over 80, and I will shortly be 82. While some others may at this age continue to carry a full load, I feel it's time for younger people with more energy to bear more of the responsibility for setting and achieving the goals of these and other public organizations.
We don't know how much more time we have left, but we have decided that we want to spend more time together. That is the overall basis for retiring from many of my public service posts at this time.
It's been a long and rewarding run. I have enjoyed and learned from all the people I've worked with. Every individual has an opinion and point of view that deserves to be heard, for only then can all viewpoints be heard and compared in order to reach accord on a course of action. My guiding principles in public and private service have been to work openly, do what is right, and work for all the people of the Vineyard.
If you come by - and I hope you will - you might find me reading a book on the deck or finally addressing some of the projects that were put on my "retired" to-do list more than 16 years ago.
Paul A. Strauss
Expression of community
To the Editor:
At Sunday's graduation ceremony for the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, valedictorian Truman French reminded the class of 2008, "It's not about the money but about how you serve the community."
Those words capture much of what makes Martha's Vineyard such a special place. For many people, life on the Vineyard is about helping others, safeguarding this beautiful Island, and serving purposes beyond themselves. Many are able to give of their time and share their wisdom with organizations working to enhance Island life in different ways. Others are able to give their financial support. Last week, the generosity of the Vineyard community clearly was evident as 631 scholarships were announced at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School's 49th class night on Friday. With more than $950,000 in awards, it was an incredible outpouring of support and a very tangible expression of what this community values.
As it has for the past 24 years, the Permanent Endowment for Martha's Vineyard, the Island's community foundation, was proud to be a part of this effort to make higher education attainable for students in our community. Although our funds supported 57 scholarships totaling more than $143,000, we were just one of more than 100 organizations reaching out to help. Each individual effort was a powerful expression of hope for the future and a demonstration of how we care for each other.
For Truman French, growing up on the Island taught him the "importance of community." How lucky we all are to be members of the community known as Martha's Vineyard.
For the Permanent Endowment for Martha's Vineyard
Disregard for the community
To the Editor:
The following was sent to the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
I am writing in regard to the Moujabber garage/addition and the hearings you are now conducting. I was present at the April 17 hearing and frankly find the current situation both amazing and shocking. It seems we, as a society, can take what appears to be the simplest of issues and turn them into exceedingly complex affairs. The current situation regarding this project is an over-complication of something that should be fairly straightforward. A building permit was issued; the project vastly exceeded the scope of the permit; the permit was revoked; a demolition order was issued. From what I have observed (admittedly from a distance, but I have seen nothing to refute this) there has been no dispute of those facts.
Now, four years later the Martha's Vineyard Commission finds itself presented with a project for an addition apparently "in exchange" for the demolition of the patently illegal structure. Were I sitting on the commission, I would vociferously argue that the application has no merit until the illegal structure is removed and the property restored to its original condition, or the land cleared altogether. Any consideration for the new project should be deferred until that time.
I state the above without regard for the applicant's past history or the overall tone of the applicant's presentation. However, any applicant's position can be enhanced or degraded by the approach taken in the application process ("It's not what you say, but how you say it..."). In this case I cannot construe what I have observed as the applicant dealing in good faith. If he were, the illegal structure would not have been built to begin with; if he were, the illegal structure would be gone by now; if he were, he would speak for himself rather than through a legal mouthpiece; if he were, there would have been some degree of apology to the town and community. If he were, we wouldn't be here today.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission should not be distracted by the details of the current plans; it should find a way to flatly deny the applicants' request until such time as the existing illegal structure no longer stands. Anything less validates the delaying tactics and tacitly permits such egregious disregard for the community to be perpetrated yet again.
To the Editor:
We often read testimonies about the caring community in which we live. Last week, I had the opportunity to realize this in a big way. My skittish greyhound, Annie, bolted out of the house on Thursday evening, June 5, and disappeared into the darkness. She was not heard of until Sunday, when she was spotted out near Thimble Farm and the alpaca farm.
I cannot tell you how that neighborhood out there responded - once posters were put up, I began to get phone calls at all times of day. Annie, who is so timid she won't come to anyone, including me at times, spent the next few days avoiding capture, as she visited Michael's home at daybreak each day, traveled the ancient paths between the farms and Great Rock Road, and generally worried a great number of searchers.
My heartfelt thanks go out to Randi Rynd, Keith Proper, and Heather Curtis, who posted flyers; Susanna Sturgis, who alerted all the horse people, including Patty Ingalls; Tara Larsen, who alerted all the other greyhound people; my neighbors Linda and Tom; the Martha's Vineyard Family Campground, Mocha Mott's, Cronig's, and all other places willing to post flyers; Peter Palches; Leah Casey; Lennie, Kathryn, and Daniel Reed; and those whom I know by first name or location only, including Michael, Karen, the yard sale family, all of whom were abroad either on foot or bicycle, or horseback, combing the woodsy trails; Peter Boak, Garrett Brown, Deb and Kevin Sylvia, and Claudia Rogers, all of whom offered to help search; and dog officers Laurie and Heather of Tisbury and Oak Bluffs.
Finally, with help from Michael, Randi and Keith, we tried to set up a sort of trap for Annie, including dog food and the shirt off my back, which Michael would put out at daybreak on Thursday, when I would be there, too, to try to lure her into my car. I set the alarm for 4 am, but was awakened at 3:30 by a call from Randi. "She's on the move, and I just saw her!" Randi had their grey with her and Lacey was monitoring the woods by the side of the road. I got there as quickly as the law would allow (well, maybe a bit more quickly) and it was apparent that Annie was still nearby. We finally lured her into the open by feeding her favorite treats to Lacey. I think she was tired of her adventure, and is really delighted to be at home.
Only on Martha's Vineyard can you find the kind of friend who will go out at 3 in the morning because she is so concerned for the safety of your dog. I am greatly indebted to all those people, but especially to Randi Rynd, who was there to share tears when Annie finally came home.
Obama will change the pattern
To the Editor:
A recent Letter to the Editor by Bryan Freehling on the positive assumption of an Obama nomination got me to thinking, once again, about the state of this country and where we are now, where we have been for the last 16 years, and the damage that has been done - first by the Clinton Administration and then by the Bush Administration.
It goes without saying that the likes of the "Clinton machine" has done nothing but hold the Democratic Party hostage, with their intimidating, dirty tricks, and setting a tone in this country of arrogance and entitlement that has not been seen in years. The sad and horrible thing is, as a mother and grandmother, and a senior to boot, it always seemed to me that they would do anything, say anything, destroy anyone, and play their dirty tricks at no cost to them, but to the country.
We have children and grandchildren in this country who must learn the dignity of the White House, to understand its importance as a world symbol. The occupant of that office must set an example second to none. Our idols have become few and far between of late. How wonderful it would be to have a president who would pursue what the presidency is, what Democracy is, what a government is, according to the laws laid down by our forefathers and stick to those ideals. We can only hope.
Whatever one thinks of former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan or any of the pundits who have proved the lack of honesty and deviousness in this White House, it is there for all to judge. So many proven truths can't be lies anymore. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, as head of the intelligence panel investigating the buildup of the war, has also said that the information we got from Bush and Cheney were untruths. This is not what we want anymore. Lies and more lies can only lead to demise. And, just as in the Clinton White House, where it was the sex episode and the "troopergate" episode, and the many deals made behind closed doors, the time for an honest, dignified president is surely overdue.
This is where Barack Obama proves to be a breath of fresh air. Not only is he classy with a great deal of dignity, but he is thoughtful, honest (that word again), and will reach out to the Democratic Party as a whole. I believe he understands the great gift of asking questions, of respecting those with experience and real dedication to the party and to the country as a whole. He may be young, but that also means he is untainted and still enthusiastic and not in everyone's pocket or psyche. He will prove to be a man with good thoughts and thoughtfulness, and I hope that he will not only be elected, but that he will thrive in the office so we can, once again, be proud of America, of its people, and that we are looked up to and admired, not loathed or laughed at because of two past presidencies that severely damaged our reputation. Obama will not be perfect, but the thought of a young, intellectual, energetic, and decent man, who loves his wife and family and who wants to do all the right things cannot be so bad!
Don't trivialize the choice
To the Editor:
After reading the letter titled "Not for Obama," I was amazed at the silliness of the content. First of all, could we stick with issues, not personal perceptions? This election is much too important to trivialize with assumptions and perceptions such as "one [candidate] believes wars can be fought and won and one does not" or "A man who is not comfortable with who he is and does not know himself is not capable of being a strong leader" or "This year I may not vote at all [even though] I don't want the Iraq War to continue..."
Please, enough of these statements based on personal perceptions that trivialize Senator Obama but most importantly, trivialize the voters. Tell me specifically the issues on which you disagree with Senator Obama. Teach me how his positions are that different from Senator Clinton's. This election now is between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. It is too important not to vote. We need to turn this country around and turn it around from the last eight years. The Democrats in the 50 states have chosen their candidate through the primary process. Thousands and thousands of people registered to vote, and most of those new voters overwhelmingly are for Obama. Please don't insult the supporters of Obama by thinking that we are voting for him due to guilt based on racism. We could play that same card for Hillary regarding gender. As Senator Clinton has said, "Let's not waste time and go there." Some of us actually look forward to a new, young, innovative, bright, articulate statesman who is trying to work with us to bring about much needed change.
This election is too important not to vote. This election cannot afford silly perceptions instead of solid critique of health plans, ending the war, and moving this economy forward. This election is about real change in this country and the young people who registered to vote are trying to tell us to join them. I am thrilled to do so, and I'm 64 years old. This is the most exciting election since the 1960s and one that truly, truly teaches us about democracy.
Keep it local
To the Editor:
I was extremely disappointed in your editorial decision to print the letter last week entitled, "Not for Obama." My disappointment stems not from my political views, because, indeed, to print a letter of the exact opposite opinion would have been in equally bad judgment. The Martha's Vineyard Times is a local newspaper whose express purpose, as is reflected in its name, is to cover Vineyard news or, at the very least, Vineyard related news.
This paper has no national section, nor does it routinely cover national events without a direct Vineyard connection. Why should the letters column not be held to the same editorial standard? For example, a letter containing a diatribe about why someone is morally against the war in Iraq does not belong in The Martha's Vineyard Times. However, letters about a Vineyard person's involvement in that war would be consistent with the true spirit of a newspaper dedicated to reporting news and events of local interest.
Yes, the editor could argue that national politics or, for that matter, any national or international event could ultimately have some impact on the people and visitors to Martha's Vineyard. But how farfetched a connection is acceptable? Did the nearly-20-column-inches letter in question even mention the Island or demonstrate why it was uniquely pertinent primarily for the eyes of Vineyard readers as opposed to those living in, say, North Dakota? In fact, that might be a very good litmus test to apply to all submitted letters. If a letter to the Martha's Vineyard Times could just as easily be printed in some daily newspaper in North Dakota without seeming slightly out of place, then it truly would be out of its sphere of relevance to this newspaper.
It is hard to believe that no policy currently exists with regard to letters having a distinct Vineyard connection. I am appalled that 20 free column-inches could be so easily handed over to what was tantamount to a political advertisement concerning a national election. It is simply not appropriate for the letters column in this Island newspaper to be a bully pulpit for personal opinions on national or international politics and events. Please remember your mission and your readership - keep it local.
Editor's Note: Disappointed as you are, I will not attempt to console you. I will suggest some of the ways by which I decide what letters to publish. The Times letters columns receive more than 20 new letters each week, year-round. And, thanks to all our correspondents, we find ourselves devoting more and more space each week to the views of our letter writers, which corresponds exactly to our belief that the letters columns belong to our readers and their views. To this end we offer maximum freedom to correspondents, as to subject matter, language, length, and style. But there are rules. For instance, topics should be of general interest to Islanders, on subjects for which a community newspaper is the natural forum. Of course, a letter that sparks the interest of the editor may be published even though there is no widespread fan base for its subject. And, as much as we try to lead reader interest with news and feature coverage in the paper each week, sometimes, as is the case with letters commenting on the national political contests and public policy questions, the newspaper follows rather than leads the readers.
A plague of religion
To the Editor:
While shopping for cheese the other day, I experienced a cathartic political moment. I do not eat cheese made from animal rennet, so I was scrutinizing labels. As I picked up a block of domestic Swiss cheese and in lieu of reading the label, I saw all the holes in the Made-in-the-USA fabric of our nation caused by excessive bleaching in Clorox-saturated holy water.
In spite of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution separating Church and State, the undeniable intolerance of religion-gone-wild continues to impede our social progress as a people and a nation. Narrow-minded notions of morality not only spew from the lecterns of neighborhood churches, but also from the pulpit of the Oval Office. Sadly, abortion, birth control, the death penalty, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, gay rights, sex education - to name only a few social issues - trump issues like improving our public schools; ensuring that Medicare will be able to help those individuals who paid into it; fighting homelessness, hunger and poverty; making good on federal promises made to Americans who lost their homes and possessions to natural disasters; providing affordable and reliable healthcare to all Americans; helping to stimulate the economy by creating and securing jobs for the unemployed; protecting our environment; investigating and harnessing renewable energy sources. The list is really inexhaustible.
Have we not learned anything from history? How many times has religion-gone-wild harmed humankind? So much for learning from our mistakes. The mantra of our history teachers has certainly fallen on deaf ears. We studied history like we studied calculus. That is, we created and remembered timelines with dates, and we have sketchy notions about events that took place years ago, but we never apply this knowledge to our everyday lives. That is unless of course we are watching a game show on TV and the question is, "During the American Revolution, who stated, 'Give me liberty or give me death!'?" And in that case, I am sure that one of us would scream, "Patrick Henry!"
Discrimination's new face
To the Editor:
America is at a transitional moment in how Americans discriminate.
African Americans are told to "dress white" and to abandon "street talk." Women are told to "play like men" at work and to make their child care responsibilities invisible. Jews are told not to be "too Jewish." Muslims, especially after 9/11, are told to drop their veils and their Arabic. The disabled are told to hide the paraphernalia they use to manage their disabilities, and gays are allowed to be gay, so long as they don't "flaunt it." All this, despite the fact that American society has seemingly committed itself, after decades of struggle, to treat people in these groups as full equals.
In the old generation, discrimination targeted entire groups, no racial minorities, no women, no gays, no religious minorities, no people with disabilities allowed. In the new generation, discrimination directs itself not against the entire group, but against the subset of the group that fails to assimilate to mainstream norms. This new form of discrimination targets minority cultures rather than minority persons.
In other words, individuals no longer need to be white, male, straight, protestant, and able bodied; they needed only to act white, male, straight, protestant, and able bodied. But it is not about equality.
Community turns out for Hospice
To the Editor:
The mission statement of Hospice of Martha's Vineyard clearly states that we offer our services for free to all and that we are community supported. The community of Martha's Vineyard earned a huge gold star on Memorial Day weekend, when many friends of Hospice turned out for the 15th Annual Memorial Day Oak Bluffs Road Race.
On the morning of May 25, a record 620 runners and walkers of all ages assembled at The Wesley Hotel in Oak Bluffs. The weather was ideal, and the runners and walkers ready. The number of families who registered to run this race together was certainly heart warming.
Thanks to this year's very generous presenting sponsor, Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank, and the associate sponsors, Tony's Market, and E.C. Cottle Inc. Hospice will be able to use every supporting sponsor and registration dollar directly for patient care.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following for their assistance and support: Roger Wey and the Oak Bluffs Road Race Committee and the Oak Bluffs police and firemen for taking care of the official and safety needs of the runners. Thank you to Peter Martell for the excellent space in the Wesley Hotel for registration, Peter and Helen Hall of Broadway Screen Printing for the beautiful blue tee-shirts, Tom and Marsha Seeman of Vineyard Bottled Waters for the gallons and gallons of water, the PA club for ice to cool those gallons, Tony's Market for the cases of oranges and bananas, daRosa's for the printing of the applications. And thanks to the following supporting sponsors for their pledge of dollars: Basics, Jim's Package Store, Hy-Line, Season's Eatery and Pub, Down to Earth, Powers Electric, Offshore Ale, Linda Jean's, Marzbanian Construction, Sullivan O'Connor Architects, Cackleberry Farm, Giordano's, Secret Garden, Sanctuary, and Cape Cod Express.
Thanks also to all the many volunteers, Hospice staff and board members who gave us their time, talent and energy to make the day so successful. The angels at the water table must also be thanked for their support for the runners, Lal Dowley and the Hill grandchildren. Thanks to the Martha's Vineyard Times and the Vineyard Gazette whose coverage and pictures give us all the details and visuals of a very successful and happy day. Thank you all.
A sincere thank you to the runners and walkers who participated, especially those little ones who give it their all in the one-mile fun run. You all make my day.
You see, we are truly community supported. Thank you for keeping the very important work of Hospice in your hearts.
Terre D. Young