Authors Posts by Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman
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Lillian M. (Gonsalves) Garvin, 90, of Oak Bluffs died on Friday, May 1, 2015 at her daughter’s home.

Lillian Garvin
Lillian M, Garvin

She was predeceased by her husband, Ernest G. Garvin in February of 1991. She is survived by her children, Marcia Buckley, Yvonne Michelson, Linda Scott, Stephen and Ernest Garvin and by her siblings, Frank, Dennis and Jerome Gonsalves, Sybil Moreis, Audrey Moreis and Sandra Porrata.

A graveside service will be held on Monday, May 4 at 2pm in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Pacific Avenue, Oak Bluffs officiated by Pastor Judy Moss. Donations in her memory may be made to the House of Worship, PO Box 907, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Rd., Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.

 

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Certified public accountant Roger Armstrong paid what he owed and escaped jail time for underreporting income.

The office of Roger Armstrong on Beach Road was closed Friday afternoon.

Roger Armstrong, a certified public accountant (CPA) and tax preparer with an office on Beach Road, Vineyard Haven found guilty of tax fraud, must spend the next nine months at home. The alternative was jail.

In January 2015, Mr. Armstrong pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to three counts of filing false tax returns in which he underreported more than $800,000 in income for three years.

On Tuesday, April 28, U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Mr. Armstrong to three years of probation, the first nine months of which are to be served in home confinement, and ordered him to pay a fine of $3,000, according to a press release from the office of United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Armstrong paid restitution of $389,365, which included his taxes owed, as well as interest and penalties.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Mr. Armstrong owned rental property in Massachusetts and Florida. “As a sole proprietor, Mr. Armstrong was required to accurately report his gross receipts and his business profit or loss on his individual income tax returns and also was to report any rental income he received. For tax years 2009 through 2011, Mr. Armstrong filed tax returns in which he significantly underreported both his business gross receipts and his rental income. Specifically, he did not report a total of $790,000 in gross receipts and $47,000 in rental income, and, as a result of the underreporting, did not pay $200,000 in taxes.”

Mr. Armstrong has handled tax preparation and accounting for clients on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 20 years, according to his business profile on the social media business site LinkedIn.

Following his guilty plea in January, Mr. Armstrong was released on personal recognizance, after he posted an unsecured $10,000 bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport, to refrain from possessing firearms, and to refrain from any use of alcohol.

The maximum sentence Mr. Armstrong faced was three years in prison, and a $250,000 fine for each offense.

According to the January plea agreement, the U.S. attorney agreed to recommend to the judge that Mr. Armstrong make restitution to the IRS in the amount of $389,365, which included interest and penalties. They also recommend a jail sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. attorney agreed not to seek additional criminal charges for crimes underlying the tax fraud charges.

Mr. Armstrong could not be reached for comment Friday.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement Thursday.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

 

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The woman lived in the house for one week and sold or gave away items that police are now attempting to recover.

Edgartown Police posted photos of some of the missing items and sought the public's help.

Updated 11 am, Tuesday, April 30

Edgartown Police said Michelle Filkins of Wareham broke into a seasonal residence on Court Street off Road to the Plains near the Edgartown Highway Department facility, and lived there with her cat for about one week, even hosting an impromptu free yard sale at which she gave away items.

Less than one week after police arrested Ms. Filkins, in a post to the department’s Facebook page police announced that “most of the missing items from the Court Street residence have been recovered.”

“The items had been placed on the side of the road and given away by the suspect,” Police said. “One gentleman asked the suspect if she was selling the items and she told him he could take them for free. So, as it stands now, the homeowners are still out some pots & pans, linens, and lamps. The most significant items have been accounted for.”

A caretaker on his regular rounds discovered Ms. Filkins in the house on Friday morning, April 17. “He asked her who she was and she said she was the owner of the house,” Officer Michael Gazaille told The Times.

The 44-year-old woman was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Friday, April 17, on charges that included breaking and entering, larceny over $250, and malicious destruction of property over $250.

Ms. Filkins was held without bail and transferred to Falmouth District Court for a competency evaluation. She is currently being held in state custody. A pre-trail hearing is scheduled for May 14.

Ms. Filkins court appointed lawyer, Robert Moriarty, said she is undergoing examination to evaluate her competency to stand trial and her criminal responsibility. Mr. Moriarty said there are serious concerns about her mental condition.

Officer Gazaille said that as far as police could tell, there was no apparent connection between the woman and the Vineyard, or that particular house. “There was no rhyme or reason to why she broke in there,” he said.

Police encountered Ms. Filkins earlier this month when she created a disturbance at the Kelley House. Police suspect she broke into the house not long after that, and had been living in the house for about a week or so. “A contractor working nearby had seen her during the week pretty much living there like she owned the place,” Officer Gazaille said.

Following the discovery that Ms. Filkins was in the house, the caretaker called police. Ms. Filkins fled in her truck, but later returned. She was apprehended a short time later. At the time of her arrest, and in the jail, Ms. Filkins insisted it was her house. Police found cat food and a litterbox in the house.

Mr. Gazaille said there is no indication that Ms. Filkins sold items from the house. “She was just putting stuff by the side of the road,” he said.

Soon after the arrest, police posted a description of the incident on the Edgartown Police Department (EPD) Facebook page, in an effort to recover items discovered missing from the house.

“A worker in the neighborhood reported that one day it appeared she had a yard sale and sold a number of items from the property,” police said on the Facebook post. “If anyone received property from this address, we are asking that you please return it to EPD. We’re not sure at this point if the female was selling or just giving things away. If in fact you did purchase something, you are a victim as well, and EPD will assist you in seeking restitution via the court prosecution of this case.”

Police listed the following items: four deck chairs from Crate & Barrel, one Weber grill, two side tables from Ethan Allen, one Ann Chase lamp, two lamps from Crate and Barrel, two framed posters, various pot and pans, all linens, and a painting by the homeowner.

Word circulated quickly through the Vineyard community. Earlier this week, police recovered the painting. Police thanked the community for its assistance.

 

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Voters went to the polls at the Chilmark Community Center Wednesday.

Chilmark voters went to the polls Wednesday and put another nail in the coffin for the proposed new school administration building. Voters looked more kindly on a new building for the Center for Living.

Both items appeared as Proposition 2.5 override questions on the town ballot.

The vote was 106 to 35 in favor of the town contributing to a county purchase of the former VNA building In Tisbury for use by the Center for Living at an estimated total cost of $1.6 million.

Voters were less willing to pitch in to build a new school administration building at an estimated cost of $3.9 million on the grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. The vote was 69 in favor and 76 against.

All six towns needed to vote in favor of the proposal. West Tisbury and Tisbury have already said no.

A total of 145 people, or about 16 per cent of the town’s 913 registered voters exercised their right to cast a ballot.

There were no contested elections. Election results were as follows: selectman, William Rossi (110 votes); board of assessors, Leonard Jason Jr., (126); board of health, Janet Buhrman (119); three members of the finance committee for three-year terms, Bruce E. Golden (121), Vicki Jamieson Divoll (96), Adam DeBettencourt (16 write-in votes);  finance committee one year term, Susan B. Murphy (123); planning board five-year term, John K. Eisner (108); planning board one-year term, Samuel A. Hart (122); fence viewer, Julianna M. Flanders (128); library trustee three-year term, Jane D. Kaplan (123); library trustee, one-year term, Heather S. Quinn (116); cemetery commissioner, John O. Flender, (129); tree warden, Keith L. Emin (133); surveyor of wood, lumber, and bark three-year term, Keith Emin (11); surveyor of wood, lumber, and bark one-year term, Elisha Wiesner (5); constable, Marshall E. Carroll 3rd,  (132); Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission, Pamela Spear Goff, (131).

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Joan M. Cobb of Bridgewater died peacefully after a long battle with cancer on April 22, 2015 at the Braemoor Health Center in Brockton at the age of 63. She was the beloved wife of Wayne S. Cobb of Bridgewater. They were married for 40 years.

Joan was the daughter of Katherine “Kay” G. (McPhee) Manning of Oak Bluffs and the late William Manning. She was the stepdaughter of the late Joseph Nunes.

She was born in Boston on September 27, 1951, and lived in North Quincy. She was a graduate of North Quincy High School class of 1969 and a graduate of Chamberlain Junior College. Joan spent many summers on Martha’s Vineyard.

Joan is survived by her husband; a son, Ryan S. Cobb of Bridgewater and his wife Kelley (DeRubeis); a daughter, Caitlin J. Goodhile of Berwick ME; and her mother. She was the sister of Marilyn Manning of Byfield; Richard Manning of Oak Bluffs and the late Katherine Maseda. Also survived by her grandchildren; Taylor DeRubeis, Isabella Cobb, Cameron Cobb, Madelyn Goodhile and Zachary Goodhile as well as many nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be held Tuesday, May 5th at the Prophett-Chapman Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 98 Bedford Street, Bridgewater MA from 4-7 pm. A graveside service will be held at a later time.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in her name to HopeHealth Hospice, 765 Attucks Lane, Hyannis MA 02601.

 

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The plane came in on its belly without incident or injury to the pilot and two passengers.

Airport rescue personnel secure a plan that landed Wednesday without its landing gear down.

The pilot of a Mooney 201 single-engine plane with two passengers aboard landed at Martha’s Vineyard Airport Wednesday afternoon without the plane’s retractable landing gear lowered, without incident or injuries.

The control tower reported that a plane had landed without its wheels down, and the crash alarm was sounded, airport manager Sean Flynn told The Times. When fire personnel responded, all three occupants were safely out of the plane, which was resting upright on the runway.

Mr. Flynn said the pilot had traveled from an airport in Connecticut on a day trip. He said he could not speculate on the cause of the accident, which would be the subject of an FAA investigation.

Mr. Flynn said there are mechanisms that alert a pilot whether the gear is up or down.

 

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Voters approved the VNA building purchase and rejected funding for new school administration building.

Campaigning for votes was a relaxed affair Tuesday, with Pamela Brock (left) and Leslie Clapp among the few stationed outside the Tisbury polls. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Updated 2:20 pm, Wednesday, April 29

Tisbury voters went to the polls on Tuesday and elected Larry Gomez, owner of Greenwood House inn and longtime chairman of the finance and advisory committee, to fill one seat on the three-member Tisbury board of selectmen.

Voters split on the six Proposition 2.5 ballot questions. They said yes to questions 1, 2, and 3, and no to questions 4, 5, and 6.

A total of 578 voters, or 17 percent of the town’s 3,321 registered voters, exercised their right to determine town affairs.

Mr. Gomez (462 votes) soundly defeated Frank Brunelle (84 votes), and will fill the seat formerly occupied by Jonathan Snyder.

“I would like to say thank you to all who supported me in this campaign,” Mr. Gomez said in an email to The Times following the election. “I hope I can live up to their expectations. I will continue my careful review of items that come before the selectmen. If I feel it is not in the best interest of the town, I will just say no.”

Mr. Brunelle fared no better in a face-off against incumbent Daniel Seidman for one five-year term on the planning board. Mr. Seidman received 357 votes while Mr. Brunelle received 129 votes.

“My congratulations to Larry Gomez — hard-working, honest, and deserved to win — Now the work begins,” Mr. Brunelle said in an email to The Times. “I would compare myself somewhat to the Green Party, which usually gets 1 or 2 percent. So by my reckoning, we did pretty well. Thank you everyone for your vote and your confidence in me.”

“It is always beneficial to have an opponent, give people a choice,” Mr. Seidman said in an email to The Times. “I would like to thank the residents of Tisbury for the opportunity to continue on the Planning Board. We have a great board and have made amazing progress since the start of the vision process. My goal is to continue to keep the momentum going and have the planning process transparent and inclusive. I look forward to a fruitful five-year term and a reinvigorated Tisbury.”

Voters filled several open seats by write-in ballot. Keenan Delaney (11 votes) was elected to the board of assessors; Pamela Brock (38 votes) was elected to a two-year term on the finance and advisory committee; Barbara Fortes (22 votes) and Pamela Brock (2 votes) were elected to one-year terms on the finance and advisory committee; Ben Robinson (85 votes) was elected to a three-year term on the planning board. George Balco (35 votes) will join Nora Nevin (411 votes) and Pamela S. Street (405 votes) on the library board of trustees; and John Thayer (21 votes) will join Jeffrey C. Kristal (367) on the the public works commission.

Also elected: constables, Mark J. Campos (387), Kenneth A. Barwick (371); board of health, Malcolm Rich Boyd (449); school committee, Amy B. Houghton (414); water commissioner, Roland B. Miller (401); finance and advisory committee (three-year term), Paul J. Cefola (312), Nancy B. Gilfoy (385), and Thomas Lawrence Keller (331).

Voters also confronted six Proposition 2.5 questions. Voters approved a request for $208,929 to fund the Tisbury School budget (351-202); voters approved a request to help pay for the county-engineered purchase of the former VNA building for the Center for Living (289-254); and voters approved a request to fund the cost of installing underground utilities on Beach Road (319-219), despite a decision at town meeting to table the question. Voters now have the option of passing the measure on town meeting floor within six months to avoid another ballot question.

Voters said no to acquiring two lots adjacent to the Vineyard Haven Library (210-309); voters said no to a request to fund the purchase of property at 14 Pine Street (185-319); and voters turned down a request to kick in the town’s share of the estimated $3.6 million cost to build a new administrative building for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School District (212-326).

Approval of the school district request was dependent on approval by all of the six towns. Edgartown said yes. West Tisbury voters said no. Chilmark voters went to the polls yesterday. Oak Bluffs voters decide the question today. Aquinnah votes on May 13.

 

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Test results will not be used to prosecute Martha’s Vineyard cases until doubts about testing procedures are resolved.

In December, Deputy Josh Little stands beside a calibrated breathalyzer machine at the Dukes County Jail and House of Correction in Edgartown.

Updated 7 pm, Tuesday, April 28

Prosecutors seeking a conviction of drivers arrested for drunk driving on Martha’s Vineyard have one less weapon in their arsenal, at least temporarily, until questions are resolved about the accuracy of breathalyzer tests used across the state.

Massachusetts law sets the maximum legal concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream (BAC) for an adult operating a motor vehicle at 0.08. For a minor under the age of 21, this limit is 0.02. The breathalyzer machine measures the amount of alcohol in an individual’s blood.

The issue, according to published reports, is that the machines may not have been calibrated to the degree of accuracy state law requires. The state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security recently began a probe into testing procedures.

Last week, state officials had so far identified 69 faulty cases out of about 6,000, according to reports in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.

State Public Safety Secretary Dan Bennett on Tuesday said his office was working with district attorneys to identify each individual in 150 cases involving breath tests affected by operator error.

After reviewing about 39,000 breath test results, Mr. Bennett’s office reported it “found no evidence that breath test instruments in use in the Commonwealth are functioning improperly.” Mr. Bennett also said a breath test manufacturer has agreed to update the instruments with a software patch that will reduce the potential for operator error.

Last week, prosecutors across the state, including Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, suspended use of the test results in court until a statewide review is completed.

“In March we learned from the Office of Alcohol Testing of an issue with some breathalyzer tests,” Mr. O’Keefe said in a statement emailed to The Times. “As a result we have had several meetings to ascertain the nature of the problem and are awaiting further information. In the meantime, I have instructed our Assistant District Attorneys to refrain from introducing the breath test in any case and to so inform defense counsel until we receive further information from the Executive Office of Public Safety. At the same time police have been advised that they should continue to offer the test but to take care to follow the protocols set forth in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations respecting alcohol testing devices.”

In most cases, an individual arrested for drunk driving is transported to the Dukes County Jail in Edgartown where he or she may be administered a breathalyzer test. A failure to agree to be tested carries an automatic 180-day license suspension.

Dukes County Sheriff Michael McCormack said the breathalyzer machine used in the jail was recently sent off-Island for a total scheduled rehaul and examination by the Office of Alcohol testing. “As far as I know it is functioning as it should,” Sheriff McCormack said.

A glance at the court report published weekly in The Times reveals that arrests for operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) are commonplace on Martha’s Vineyard. In 2014, the six Island police departments reported approximately 160 OUI arrests. Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown accounted for the majority.

The immediate ramifications are that police may see some cases they thought would result in successful prosecutions get tossed out of court, or have earlier cases that did end with a conviction be reversed. However, there will be no change in the effort to stop drivers who may be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

“We will continue to do what we do,” Oak Bluffs Police Lieut. Tim Williamson told The Times. “It really does not affect the police or how we work in the field.”

Lieutenant Williamson said officers would continue to administer field sobriety tests, and drivers would have the option of taking a breathalyzer test or lose the right to operate a motor vehicle. The prosecutors will continue to be responsible for seeking a successful conviction, Lieutenant Williamson said.

Per se proof

Robert Moriarty, a lawyer at the Edgartown firm of McCarron, Murphy, Vukota, told The Times he was pleased by the quick response of state law enforcement officials to the news that the machines may not be properly calibrated.

“I think [Cape & Islands District Attorney] Michael O’Keefe and the other district attorneys that have chosen not to proceed to introduce the breathalyzer into evidence are doing the right and just thing as fair and ethical prosecutors,” Mr. Moriarty said.

Mr. Moriarty said their decision is based on the disclosure that the test results are unreliable.

Mr. Moriarty explained the significance of the breathalyzer test. In the past, test results were viewed solely as evidence. Following a 2003 change in the law, the test result was “per se” proof of guilt. That assumption was all based on the belief that the test results were accurate to the degree spelled out in Massachusetts law.

A failure to take a breathalyzer tests carries a 180-day license suspension on a first offense. There is an option to go to court and contest the results of the field sobriety test. For a driver over the age of 21, a conviction on a failed breath test carries a 30-day license suspension.

Mr. Moriarty said the system is set up to incentivise a driver to opt for the breath test even if he or she thinks they may not be over the limit.

Before the test used to be just evidence, now it is actual per se proof of guilt, Mr. Moriarty said. Because the recent disclosures call into question the reliability of the test results, the entire system is now called into question.

Asked how he is proceeding in light of recent disclosures, Mr. Moriarty said he is proceeding to trial on every case that relies on the results of a breathalyzer.

The Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) has called on Attorney General Maura Healey to launch an independent probe.

“Drunk driving is a serious societal issue which the Massachusetts Bar Association takes very seriously,” Martin W. Healy, MBA chief legal counsel and chief operating officer, said in a statement emailed to The Times. “But from a legal perspective, there has been a longstanding underlying problem with breathalyzer tests and their reliability. We’ve been questioning the use of these machines and the calibration of these machines for many years. The attorney general should step in and appoint an investigator, outside of the law enforcement community, to conduct an independent investigation so that we can have a fresh review of what’s been happening with these machines, and why many district attorneys throughout the commonwealth are now suspending the use of breathalyzer evidence in court.”

In a letter to the attorney general, Mr. Healy suggested that former judges or “seasoned attorneys” with no stake in the outcome of the investigation should be considered to lead the probe.

The association “remains concerned about the issue despite claims by some in the law enforcement community that the issue is one confined to human error in the calibration of the machines,” Mr. Healy wrote.

 

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Frank Brunelle will challenge incumbent Daniel Seidman for a five-year seat.

Beach Road has been a focus of Tisbury planning.

The Tisbury planning board has often been in the thick of major town projects that have included Stop and Shop company’s withdrawn proposal to build a new market, affordable housing projects, and the reimagining of the downtown and waterfront areas.

On Tuesday, Tisbury voters go to the polls from noon to 8 pm in the lower level of the public safety building opposite the Tisbury School, where they will decide a contest between incumbent Daniel Seidman and Frank Brunelle for one five-year term on the planning board.

Frank Brunelle, a Tisbury businessman, is also a candidate for one seat on the three-member Tisbury board of selectmen.

Daniel Seidman, owner of a money-management and financial-planning firm, is chairman of the planning board, treasurer of the Dukes County Regional Housing Trust and the Island Housing Trust, and a board member of Vineyard Power.

The Times posed a series of questions to each candidate and asked that they respond in writing in not more than 400 words. The questions and the candidate’s responses follow.

What is the most significant planning challenge facing Tisbury?

Mr. Brunelle: Over the past three years I have been very involved in attempting to persuade the town to not install a Shared User Path (SUP), as promoted by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, along the Beach Road corridor. As someone who lives in the district, I recognized immediately when it was proposed that merging this plan into a zone where traffic goes in and out of driveways and parking lots was a dangerous approach to road reconstruction. In the process of dealing with this, the subject of eminent domain arose, which the town and the Commission wanted. I spent huge amounts of time researching, calling experts, speaking with lawyers. From this I went to the town boards, both the selectmen and the planning board, and attempted to convey not only my concerns, but all of the issues that I learned about.

It was, and still is, a very frustrating experience. Out of this I developed a phrase: “Trying to influence the boards in Tisbury is like throwing peanuts at a tank.” In the end, I decided that my efforts were next to useless, and that the only way to influence our boards is to be a member of one of those boards. And so I decided to run for both selectmen’s office and planning board. I also believe that there are enormous problems that citizens are conscious of and would like to have addressed properly, and believe I can offer input that may be able to help to correct these.

Mr. Seidman: The need to increase economic activity while keeping Tisbury, Tisbury. We want to save and protect what makes the town special and unique. That means saving and preserving the treasures, the customs, and the look of the town. We need to increase the time tourists spend in Tisbury, not just be a port they pass through. We want an engaging and visually vibrant town that is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. We are the only year-round port, which gives us a distinct advantage versus other towns on the Island. We need to capitalize on it.

What can be done in the public and private sector to increase affordable housing?

Mr. Brunelle: It is not new housing that is not affordable, it is the land. New housing can be built using SIP (structural integrated panel) construction, combined with NetZero technology, for around a half to a third of the cost of conventional construction. If this is combined with a smaller dwelling, then a building can be constructed for a family or for summer housing that will be very affordable, comfortable, stronger than traditional buildings, and even return money by installing solar. Existing housing is another issue altogether, but I believe focusing on new housing is a better way to try to solve this problem.

Mr. Seidman: As a person committed to affordable/workforce (A/WF) housing for over a decade, this is an area of expertise. At the moment, the default private, nonprofit developer is the Island Housing Trust (IHT). A recent collaborative example of public/private funding was the purchase of Village Court (behind Crane Appliance) by IHT. The building was an inefficiently constructed 6-unit rental that was rehabbed, brought up to code, and made energy-efficient. Several towns contributed, as well as the Federal Home Loan Bank, Edgartown National Bank, and The Resource Inc.

Island-wide collaboration is critical to addressing affordable housing. I recently initiated quarterly meetings among all of the six Island planning boards to address Island-wide issues/ideas and work together to foster change. Affordable housing is a shared concern, and has been the focus of our recent meetings. We want to look at possible zoning changes that might assist in creating more housing, both rental and ownership. We are also interested in exploring innovative ideas such as social impact bonds or an affordable-housing real estate investment trust (REIT). One innovative solution brought forward by the private sector is a pledge from businesses to add 1 percent to all bills/invoices toward the construction and maintenance of A/WF.

Stop and Shop spent more than one year in an effort to build a new store. At the end of the process, the town and Stop and Shop were left with the status quo. Please comment.

Mr. Brunelle: The Stop and Shop ran into many roadblocks. There was a competitor buying a building out from under them where they wanted to expand. Another problem was the commission. The town boards tried, but negotiations failed. And finally the townspeople organized to stop the process. To understand this completely, one would have had to have participated in the negotiations, and even then, it would be tough.

Mr. Seidman: We were left with the same building. Not sure there were any winners, and it seems Tisbury and Stop and Shop lost. We want the gateway to Tisbury to be visually appealing. It is not currently. Were there issues with the design of the building? Some would say it was too big, others would say it did not belong in that location. One thing is certain, what is there now is not acceptable. Can you blame Stop and Shop for wanting a new building? No. Should it be a size that is appropriate for the town and the setting? Yes. The process itself had several failings as well. The selectmen and not the planning board had oversight of the process. With the newly approved zoning for the B-1 district, a new method of evaluation is in place.

 

 

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Voters will choose Tuesday between Frank Brunelle and Larry Gomez.

Photo by Michael Cummo

Tisbury voters go to the polls Tuesday. Topping the election ballot is a contest to fill one seat on the three-member board of selectmen.

Frank Brunelle, a Tisbury businessman, will face off against Larry Gomez, owner of Greenwood House inn and longtime chairman of the finance and advisory committee.

Larry Gomez first arrived on Martha’s Vineyard when he and his late wife Kathy Stinson visited Boston so he

Larry Gomez
Larry Gomez

could run the Marathon, and decided to take a side trip to the Island. It was 1981. They continued to visit each year, and purchased their first house in 1986. They purchased the Greenwood House B and B and moved to the Island full-time in 1994.

Mr. Gomez said he first became interested in town government as an opponent to the community preservation act. He later ran for a seat on the Finance and Advisory Committee. He has served on the FinCom for 15 years, eight as chairman, and served as a member of many other committees.

Frank Brunelle and his wife Vasha, both artists, have lived in Tisbury for 35 years, and at one time or another

Frank Brunelle
Frank Brunelle

have owned businesses in all three down-Island towns. Mr. Brunelle is a past president of the Tisbury Business Association, and helped organize the business community to defeat the town’s proposal to use the West Chop Woods as a waste disposal site. A past president of the Nathan Mayhew Seminars, he lives with his wife on Beach Road, and he owns and maintains several old wooden boats.

The Times posed a series of questions to each candidate, and asked that they respond in writing in not more than 400 words. The questions and their responses follow.

Q and A

Why did you decide to run for election to the board of selectmen?

Mr. Brunelle: I decided to run for the board of selectmen for the same reason that I decided to run for planning board. The only way to influence our boards is to be a member of one of those boards.

Mr. Gomez: I am running for selectman to bring another voice to the town, a voice that shows fiscal responsibility and is not afraid to go against conventional wisdom. I am a listener. I don’t have an agenda, and I want what’s best for Tisbury. I want to give back to the town what it’s given me, a strong sense of pride in my community. Being selectman means listening before you speak, being conscious of your constituents, and working toward a solution with facts, not emotions.

What would you suggest can be done to reduce the pressure on Tisbury taxpayers?

Mr. Brunelle: One way to reduce the pressure on Tisbury taxpayers is to set limits. It would be similar to Proposition 2.5, but directed specifically to non-town finance questions, such as from nonprofits. From attending this year’s town meeting, I was amazed at the amount of articles and subarticles that dealt with spending on various issues. Many of these are extraneous to the town, and involve nonprofits or other entities, and there are no limits to the amounts that the town can conceivably spend on these. But fundamentally, it depends on the voters. However, it is difficult for voters to resist appeals which have good purposes.

The selectmen are not equipped as presently organized to examine costs of town building projects, nor should they be, but rely upon the finance committee to recommend whether or not costs are in line, and what should and should not be spent.

Mr. Gomez: As I stated at town meeting, the answer to reducing the pressure on taxpayers is to just say no. When confronted with town meeting warrant articles, we all need to research, get the facts, and then decide if a money article is best for each of us and the community. If not, just say no.

Voters set the tax rate by what we vote at town meeting, not the assessors, FinCom, or board of selectmen. They work with a formula that sets the tax rate based on the vote on town meeting floor.

Our town budget is approaching $24 million. Someone may think this is high. It is not. Sixty-seven percent of the budget represents union-negotiated salaries and benefits related to Tisbury School, along with federal and state mandated programs.

Yes, we should examine the town’s overall budget carefully. But we also need to make sure we are not being held back in our ability to provide daily needed services. We all want to have a safe environment and a rich vibrant harbor, to allow Islanders and guests to get the best out of Tisbury and the Vineyard.

Please describe the state of Tisbury.

Mr. Brunelle: The state of Tisbury is very complex.

Housing can be affordable, if land and building costs are low. But the real problem in new construction is land. When dealing with existing housing, it is another matter.

Another problem is the Tisbury School. Education is a great concern of mine. I spoke to a teacher who talked of warped floors, of terrible conditions where the heating was so hot that the windows needed to be open in order to let out heat in the winter so that she could teach, of an old and crumbling building.

The influx of illegal labor operating on a basis that drives down the wages of local workers: Tisbury, like all of the towns, has to deal with this. It is fundamental, and undermines everything.

There is the continued growth of the Steamship Authority, which focuses on tourism rather than year-round needs. It is something that we can not control, and which controls us, and is an intractable problem. The selectmen have had some input into this, including what I consider a misguided attempt to move the SSA to Beach Road. Unlimited vehicular tourism access, large bus tours, all very profitable — and very damaging.

Tisbury has changed over the past 20 years, is about to change again radically, and this process is going on often in secrecy; without brakes, we will end up very much worse off than we are now. Lack of transparency, lack of stakeholder participation, concentration of power, undue influence characterize the Tisbury process at this time.

Mr. Gomez: Tisbury has been through several lean years, and now we must catch up. This means increasing some budgets. In doing this, the voters should continue to be mindful of capital expenditures, exploding social programs, and the appearance of the county’s need to grow.

I think the town is in pretty good financial shape. Overall, the town’s infrastructure and appearance could be improved, for example by placing utilities underground. We tend to plan, but find it difficult to follow through, as with the DPW barn, which was torn down but has yet to be replaced.