To the Editor:
I feel I must respond to the Letter to the Editor "SSA and the cost of living" in the November 8 Martha's Vineyard Times. The writer, Harvey J. Kennedy, is mistaken on every point he makes.
The SSA is not responsible for the higher prices here. Several studies by the state have shown that the high costs on MV are due to high land prices. It is true that freight is a small factor but certainly not responsible for the 20 percent more it costs to live here.
Nor has the Coast Guard ever stated that there are twice as many staff on the boats as required. The Coast Guard sets a minimum manning level for each boat, and it is true that the SSA manning exceeds that level, but far from double. This is an issue management and the board have been working on for years and with each contract have made headway in reducing the manning levels. As far as the lunch counters on the boats, they are contracted out, so if they had 20 people behind the counter it would not affect our rates.
Mr. Kennedy's assertion that anyone who wants a job at the SSA only need ask a local politician is also ridiculous. The SSA has been reducing the number of its employees for at least the past 10 years, and I know of no one who has ever obtained a job this way.
I would be happy to discuss with Mr. Kennedy any concerns or suggestions he may have in the future.
Vineyard Member of the Steamship Authority