Left in the dust

1

To the Editor:

So, you bunch of schoolyard bullies, how does it feel to gang up on an honest working man and destroy his dreams? How does it feel to flaunt your own rules, mislead your tenant, collude behind closed doors, and take a man’s life’s work from him? You must feel real proud of yourselves, no doubt, for the screwing you gave Mike Rotondo. Feeling a bit puffed up and powerful?

But I wonder, will you still be feeling proud as day after day you drive by a vacant lot, a scar on the land for everyone to see as they enter our industrial park, while all the time lying to yourselves and saying to each other that what we did, we did for the good of the park and the Island as a whole? Are you that out-of-touch with your neighbors?

So I wonder, commissioners and airport manager, will you still puff up with pride like arrogant blowfish rising from a sea of slime when the special interest you colluded in favor of backs out of his agreement to rent your property, since in your arrogance, you’ve left him nothing but a patch of dirt?

And being bullies in your own little schoolyard, I wonder, since you accepted and cashed Mr. Rotondo’s last rent check, which paid him through to the end of September, and then forced him out by the end of July, whether or not you’re going to reimburse him for the final two months rent that you received? Probably not, huh? I guess that gold’s gone the way of the dinosaur.

No, that’s not quite right, is it?

Dinosaurs merely went extinct. You destroyed a man’s dreams, and moreover, from a business standpoint, made him commit suicide rather than bend the knee to tyrants like you. The three of you (and you know who you are and who you colluded with) could gang up on him, but you couldn’t break him. Schoolyard bullies — a hundred of you couldn’t do it.

Now I know that you three are going to read this — if the paper prints this, that is — and cry foul! You’ll make sure to get as much coverage as both our papers will allow, in order to proclaim your innocence and willingness to deal fairly, but if that were so, then your involvement as the commission, with the exception perhaps of oversight during the actual deconstruction, should have ended with the judge’s order to demolish when no agreement could be reached. Instead, let’s tell the public everything you tried to do to Mr. Rotondo after you’d already had your day in court: The very next day after the judge ordered the demolition, the commission, using its bulldog, airport manager Ann Richart, went to Lenny Jason to try and have the permit rescinded. Around the 20th of July, the commission filed a motion in court to freeze Mr. Rotondo’s bank accounts, not because he owed them money but as an effort to thwart payment to the contractors Mr. Rotondo had hired to conduct the demolition. They asked the Edgartown Fire Chief to rescind the permits to remove the fuel tanks. They threatened to sue Mr. Rotondo for attorney’s fees and damages in an effort to stop the demolition. Finally, they sent over their own “civil engineer” without proper documentation (they’re supposed to have it) to harass Mr. Rotondo and get in the way, going so far at one point as to question the purity of the fill (it came from Goodale’s), claiming that it smelled too much like “Chanel No. 5” and therefore might not be usable. Her exact words, according to Mr Rotondo, who eventually had to ask her to leave the property after showing up a second day without documentation and straying too close to an open pit, thus endangering herself and the job site, were “that it smelled too much like perfume.”
So why all this interest on the part of the commission in a building that wasn’t theirs? Why continue to harass Mike Rotondo after they’ve already beaten him into the ground? Clearly they had someone’s interests at stake.

 

Michael C. Gilman
Vineyard Haven