Editorial: Nothing left to say, but they say it anyhow

Editorial: Nothing left to say, but they say it anyhow

The ownership claim made by Ben Ramsey and Nisa Counter to a portion of Chilmark property owned by Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is meritless. The state Land Court decided the matter this month. The court found no substance at all to the Ramsey-Counter position. Not on any grounds.

The judge examined the long, complicated history of ownership of the disputed land and concluded that Ramsey-Counter had no record ownership of the Sheriff’s Meadow land they claimed, or even to a portion of it. Sheriff’s Meadow, the plaintiff in the case, which dates to 2010, offered a “persuasive and correct interpretation of the boundary and chain of title” to its property.

The judge, considering the Ramsey-Counter secondary argument that even if they did not have record title to the property they might legally claim it by adverse possession, said no. Ramsey-Counter had not possessed the land, had not made actual, normal, open, notorious, and adverse use of the property for 20 years, the judge found.

In the news report of the Land Court decision on mvtimes.com, readers will find a link to the complete text of the Land Court’s decision. It is pretty dense, and too few will read it. And anyhow, while the substance of this long, vicious battle was never in doubt, the collateral damage — perpetuated by social media commentators — continues. Superficially, the attacks by Ramsey-Counter partisans appear to be intended to do damage to Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and sunder the organization from its principles. Really, the vile and baseless criticisms do far greater harm to their authors.

If the issue was, Do Ramsey-Counter have a legitimate claim on the land?, the matter is settled. If the issue was, Sheriff’s Meadow ought to have acquiesced before an attempt to extort real estate from a nonprofit conservation organization, whose obligation is to protect the property it has acquired through purchase or gift, and to do it though sub rosa vilification and misrepresentation, then there never was an issue. No right-thinking person, never mind a responsible, historic, nonprofit conservation organization, would sign on to that sort of behavior.


  1. People have the reputations they earn– through time. It takes years of evidence of bad behavior to earn a bad reputation. One law suit doesn’t do it.

    Who paid for the research and voluminous document presentation to the court so that the judge could read it all and make his decision? Who has the kind of money to pay the exorbitant legal fees of a Diane Tillotson? SMF. Or rather, wealthy SMF donors. It is no surprise when reports submitted to the court for review favor the side that pays for them. In big money vs no money/no legal representation, who wins?

    Like it or not, SMF has the reputation it deserves. The Ramsey’s are not the first of its neighbors that SMF has sued. Who does this newspaper blame for Quansoo Gate? Tuthill Preserve? Ziff debacle? The Laurie David embarrassment? These examples of continuing dishonorable conduct have led people to view SMF as the arrogant, selfish, out of touch, fundraising, high-priced gala hosts who cater mostly to wealthy donors whose only interest in preserving land is to keep their water views clear and to keep the riffraff, or working class out. The Ben and Nisa story only served to emphasize what people had already come to expect from SMF. If the shoe fits… The only ones to sunder the organization from its principles are SMF– by their own conduct over many years now. If the Ben and Nisa story never happened, SMF would still conjure up what they have earned by their own doing.

    It is a disappointment to again see this week the improper use of the ill gotten photographs of personal property and to again read the same intentional mis-characterizations of that temporary, collapsible wooden carpenter’s tent, (mis-characterization thoroughly debunked with proof).

    Everyone who knows the details and truth of what exactly transpired in this case comes to the same conclusion I have reached. Knowing the court would likely rule as it did not stop this hard working couple from seeing their case through to the end. It can’t be easy standing tall and hoping for justice when the deck is stacked with the enormous power of millions of dollars against you.

    People most often have the reputations they themselves have earned. Objecting to a reality does not change it.

    1. The Ziff story is easily searchable, as is Quansoo. Is the Tuthill issue a different scandal from Ziff? And what did Laurie David do? There are plenty of people new to this area that want to know the truth.

      Do you believe that Ben and Nisa have title to this land? Are you saying that the land court is mistaken in saying that they don’t?

      You deserve your chance to share your side of the story but all of the frustrated angry language does you more harm than good. If you have solid basis for your attacks let the truth tell your story. I will give you a hand with one thing. Google form 990 for the foundation and you will get a lot of data like executive compensation.

      1. Google using key words you have. And a hand for you, google “squatters speakeasy slantwise”.

        1. Thanks, I will.

          From what I have read so far, Laurie David seems to talk the talk but not walk the walk. Several EPA violations while building out her property. SMF should disassociate.

          The Quansoo gate issue reads to me like SMF got some property behind a locked gate. They wanted to open the property to the public and the gatekeepers didn’t want the public in their neighborhood. Good for SMF for suing for public access. Or is it more complicated?

          The Ziff issue where SMF allowed contractors to remove rare plants from a conservation area in their care in exchange for the contractor helping SMF improve the property sounds like serious carelessness on the part of SMF. It is their purpose and business to know these things. I doubt it was done with contempt, but it is still a black eye for them.

          My understanding is that executive leadership has changed since these incidents. Is that correct? I am sure the board and leading donors remain unchanged. All eyes should be on SMF. See if things have improved.

          This current issue distracts from your valid concerns regarding the SMF, at least from my perspective. If you want to change that perception, address the ownership of the land clearly, directly, and without inflammatory comments about the actors.

          And kudos to the MV Times for allowing this discussion. You might not like them, but they get credit for publishing your viewpoint and hosting the discussion.

          Thank you for giving a recent wash ashore your view.

          1. To read an in-depth perspective on this case, different from what you’ll find in either paper, you can click on all the “earlier chapters” links at the bottom of the “Slantwise” page on squattersspeakeasy.com.

            To catch up on years of stories, it is probably also helpful to type “Sheriffs Meadow” into the search features on the websites of both the Times and Gazette. Reading the congratulatory articles as well as the hard news stories- and seeing who wrote them, who attended the galas, who took the photos, etc- will give a clearer picture of what SMF is about.

    2. Those documents are puclic records. Free to anyone who cares to look. These folks didnt have any title to the land. Period. End of story. They werent even squatting properly. You can babble all you want and blame and throw rocks and deflect. But the facts are the facts. Deal with it.

      1. Very funny but do your homework. SMF had no title to the land, but they did have millions of dollars. That kind of power pays for some pretty good convincing. Clearly you don’t know the real facts of this case

        1. I didnt say SMF had title, I said the plaintiffs clearly did not. So everyone else is wrong and you are right. Must be lonely where you live.

  2. I sincerely hope that the very vocal and misguided SMF bashers NEVER step foot on Cedar Tree Neck or any of the other beautiful properties that SMF has been able to preserve for public use through generous private donations. There’s no need to be a blowhard and a hypocrite.

    1. Switching the subject and personally attacking those who speak out against SMF’s well-documented wrong-doings is a typical and transparent tactic. Smug self-righteousness does nothing to defend practices that no one can defend, nor does it help the tarnished reputation. Just saying.

    2. Opening some of their acreage for public enjoyment gives SMF the right to do things like lift plants from priority habitats they own and sell it off to a rich donor, and then develop amnesia about it. Anyone who remembers all if it and objects to the whole series of SMF wrongs is a blowhard and hypocrite. Have I got that right? The Ramsey law suit didn’t develop in a vacuum. It’s who SMF is.