Letters to the Editor
It's about the Derby anglers
To the Editor:
The following letter was read at the Derby Awards Ceremony, Sunday.
For the first time in years, none of us has been able to participate in this year's Derby. The memories of running up and down the beaches after albies, occasional bluefish blitzes, the rare bonito, and those nighttime bass are never to be forgotten. Some of us have children who are just beginning to fish, but all of them have watched us fish as they have grown and have loved everything about Martha's Vineyard.
But the Derby is not about us, it is about all of you. So many of you have put in countless hours finding fish alone, with friends, with family, be it in raging winds, sunny perfect days, or on long cold nights. We appreciate the knowledge and talent required to catch fish, particularly the winning ones. The Clay family is honored to have been part of the major awards these past years. Whoever has the key that opens the lock, we hope you will drive the truck with the pride you deserve to feel.
Thank you to the Derby committee members who work with us and thanks to the committee for the financial support toward the cost of the 2008 Chevy Silverado, and a special thanks to Jack Livingston who keeps his eye on the truck at Derby headquarters, coordinates with the committee, and keeps the truck clean. Good luck boat grand leaders.
Brian, Scott, Kim, and David Clay
No to airport advertising
To the Editor:
This letter was written to the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission.
At its regular meeting, held last Wednesday, September 17, the selectmen voted to convey its opposition to any and all proposals that would seek to initiate the development of electronic display advertising at the Martha's Vineyard Airport.
The board feels that such an endeavor would seriously compromise the Vineyard's unique aesthetics it has to offer travelers and would urge the airport commissioners to vote against the idea of display advertisements at the airport.
Dr. Koehler has a place here
To the Editor:
I have just had a remarkable medical experience, which I feel I am obliged to make known to the people of this Island.
I am very old and had a condition which was worsening and needed surgery, but it was, wisely, agreed here that I was too old to undergo it safely because of the full anesthetic needed.
Then, just by chance, I fortunately heard of Dr. Richard Koehler, an outstanding surgeon who once practiced on Martha's Vineyard and now is at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, but comes to Martha's Vineyard once a week to interview patients and follow up on cases.
I went to see him, and his diagnosis was that my condition needed surgery and that he could successfully do it with only a local anesthetic.
He performed skilled surgery at Jordan Hospital, which was an entirely painless experience, and totally successful, finding however a serious condition which surely would have erupted into a probably serious emergency.
I feel that we Islanders are being unwisely denied Dr. Koehler's presence and expertise in the Martha's Vineyard Hospital (an explanation of this was in Ellen Reynolds's recent letter to the Martha's Vineyard Times), and that with the big, new hospital coming soon, Dr. Koehler has a legitimate and essential place on the staff.
I believe this is an issue that the Martha's Vineyard Hospital staff should no longer ignore.
SSA schedule glitch
To the Editor:
In looking at the Steamship Authority schedule for the fall (10/18-12/28), I noticed that on Mondays through Thursdays, the last boat leaving Woods Hole is one hour before the last boat leaving Vineyard Haven. This seems backwards to me.
I know that this is because the Island Home spends its nights in Woods Hole, though the Islander used to berth in Vineyard Haven. I would be curious to see how many vehicles are taken on the Monday through Thursday 9:30 pm trip from Vineyard Haven, the 6 am from W.H., and would we be better served by switching the berthing port of the Island Home (the name should be heeded). It seems to me that the Islander was not only consistently reliable, but also had a better schedule.
If nothing changes and the Island Home lasts as long as the Islander, we will be stuck with this poor schedule for 50 years.
To the Editor:
Our New England wildlife, from the Eastern bluebird to the monarch butterfly, depend on weeds for their survival. Weeds, meaning our beautiful, yet neglected native plants, have been weeded out of our yards and replaced by non-native exotic plants. Through evolution an intricate relationship has developed between our native plants and our indigenous animals. The native plants provide the required food for our local wildlife. On the other hand, alien plants do not provide the essential diet for their existence. Sadly, we hear fewer songbirds and see fewer wild animals. However, by providing an array of striking native flowers, shrubs and trees we can help to restore our natural landscape.
The number one cause of species extinction is habitat destruction. We do not have to travel to the rainforests to see this. We need look no farther than our backyards. Lawns, most foundation plantings and gardens are filled with exotic ornamentals that do not provide food for our native wildlife. We can reverse habitat destruction in our corner of the world by bringing back the colorful and fascinating native plants into our yards. The bonus is seeing more hummingbirds, butterflies, interesting caterpillars, pollinating insects and songbirds.
The true weeds are the invasive, non-native plants that have attacked natural landscapes and have insidiously crept into our yards. Some of the worst offenders include: Japanese knotweed, Oriental bittersweet and multifora rose. Invasive species are the second leading cause of species extinction, according to conservation biologists. (Visit http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact.htm for identification and removal).
A great way to get started this fall is to pull out the invasive non-natives, especially on the edges of your yard, to make way for the native plants to grow. Identify plants before weeding. Hidden under the invasive plants you might discover native plants such as blueberry, flowering viburnum, fragrant milkweed or delicate woodland wildflowers. To identify native plants start by visiting http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.main/index.htm
This winter, when thinking about plants to add to your yard, consider some Martha's Vineyard natives, which will bloom year after year and provide needed food for wildlife. Spring flowering blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium atlanticum, provides bright blue flowers perfect for a neat garden edge. Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, provides a stunning pink summer bloom, when many other flowers have faded. In the fall, purple Aster spectabilis can replace the chrysanthemum. Winterberry shrub Ilex verticillata provides bright red berries that are brilliant against the winter snow and provide food for the birds in the early spring. It is important to ask your nursery for the Latin name, not the common name, otherwise you may end up with an exotic. Sources for buying Martha's Vineyard native plants include Polly Hill Arboretum and Going Native Nursery.
To the Editor:
Did you read it? Block Islanders are "embracing" a large, offshore wind farm. Even to the point that they could "get used to" seeing the windmills. Shame on them. How noticeably un-NIMBY.
To the Editor:
The family of Ursula Prada sends heartfelt thanks to the following: the Communication Center, the Edgartown Police and the Edgartown Ambulance, for their speedy response when Ursula collapsed. A huge thank-you goes out to our family, especially our cousins, Cindy Bonnell, Irene Resendes and Jo-Ann Resendes (who gets the cousin of the year award for creating and maintaining the Carepages and helping Barbara with computer questions) for being a very supportive presence for Barbara and driving her to Boston, etc.
We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful family. We would also like to thank Bill, Donna, Will, and Jimmy Bishop for volunteering to care for Barbara and Ursula's pets during this time. Another thank-you goes out to Kim Kane for doing doggy play dates with her dog.
A big thank-you goes out to Pam Dolby (town administrator) and Marilyn Wortman (Personal Board) for thoroughly checking out exactly what benefits Ursula was entitled to.
Barbara also wishes to thank her Assistants, Kate Vanderhoop and Jennifer Morgan and to all her friends (too many to name!) for helping her in numerous ways. Finally, we would like to thank the community at large for all their kind words, support and prayers. Barbara and Ursula are very lucky to live in such a caring and supportive community.
Ursula and Barbara Prada
Wi-Fi's dark side
To the Editor:
The decision of the town of Oak Bluffs to build a private wireless network, with the goal of cutting communication costs in half, is not without its potential risks to public health.
In this country and around the world, serious and far-reaching concerns are being raised about the proliferation of wireless technologies. Wi-Fi networks, like their cellular phone counterparts, utilize low level, modulated radio frequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range to transmit their signals. Regarding human anatomy and RFR, a complex and disturbing picture is emerging. Studies have been done on exposures to low intensity microwave radiation of people living near cellular phone base station antennas in Spain, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Austria. All of the studies document significant adverse health effects. In the German and Israeli studies, these effects include increased rates of cancer.
Although the power density levels of Wi-Fi antennas are lower than those of cellular phone base stations, the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) pulsed modulations that characterize digital networks might also be having biological effects, and we do not know what the long-term results of chronic, 24/7 exposures to RFR will be in the future. It is worth noting that the EPA acknowledges that current FCC radiation standards are inadequate and do not account for all the possible harmful effects of RFR.
More and more, skeptics of the risks are forced to confront a community of researchers globally unified in the need for exercising caution with wireless technologies. Anyone who investigates this issue is greeted by decades of research into RFR. Perhaps the largest body of evidence emerged in September, 2007, when a group of scientists, researchers and public health policy professionals released the BioInitiative Report. The report documents evidence of the health impacts of exposure to electromagnetic radiation hundreds or thousands of times below maximum exposure values. The authors worked with 200 scientific studies and concluded that existing limits for public safety were inadequate.
And there is growing opposition to WiFi proliferation around the world. In Ontario, Canada, University of Lakehead president Fred Gilbert eliminated Wi-Fi connections from places where Internet connection via optic fiber was possible. He based his decision on studies that link cancer in animals and humans with exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Also in 2007, the Federal Ministry of the Environment in Germany stated that, as a precaution, systems transferring information by cable would be given precedence over Wi-Fi systems. And there are many other examples, such as the decision of the Board of Health and Safety in Paris, France, to vote in favor of a moratorium on the installation of Wi-Fi in libraries and museums until the health effects of Wi-Fi has been confirmed.
In light of this controversy, the proponents of town-wide Wi-Fi for Oak Bluffs, including the purchasers and decision makers that have allowed this network to go up, have acted with narrow vision, favoring cost-cutting benefits while catering to a mindset that prizes a no holds barred approach to wireless technology. Before Wi-Fi becomes Island-wide, perhaps it is time for a public forum in which to address the above-mentioned concerns. At the very least, there needs to be a dialogue that acknowledges the much darker side of Internet when you want it, where you want it.
Gambling even for the necessaries
To the Editor:
Like Nis Kildegaard ("The Tax on Desperation," Soundings, Oct. 16), I've been thinking a lot about lotteries, and about gambling. In the mainstream media coverage of the ongoing financial crisis, we hear a lot about "investors." To me, "investor" suggests a rational person who gathers information, weighs alternatives, then invests his or her money in promising companies - sounds good, doesn't it? Trouble is, the ones who built Cloudcuckooland by dismantling the U.S. economy's formerly sound foundation aren't investors at all. They're gamblers. Beside the banking executives and hedge fund managers, the scratch ticket buyers are teeny-weeny potatoes, barely big enough to dig up and eat. The harm they do is generally limited to themselves and those in their immediate vicinity. The damage done by the big gamblers is global. And what's more, they're making out like bandits by holding a gun to our heads: If you don't bail us out of this mess we're created, we'll take the whole world down with us. The moral of the story - if one can talk about morality without dissolving in helpless laughter - seems to be that if you're going to gamble, gamble big.
Maybe this is the reason that the well-heeled folk in Newton and Lincoln spend far less per person on the state lottery than do the not-so-well-heeled folk of Martha's Vineyard. Why buy scratch tickets when you've got dough and connections enough to sit in on the really big game?
I'm not just thinking about scratch tickets and the stock market, though. I'm thinking about how gambling has insinuated itself into Vineyard life. Raffles and bingo and casino nights are fundraising staples for many an Island nonprofit and scholarship fund. We take them for granted; harmless fun, and all for a good cause, right? Right. But how about lotteries where the prize is the chance to rent an "affordable" apartment? How about lotteries where the prize is the opportunity to buy an "affordable" lot or even a whole house?
Sure, it's great for the winners - but the same can be said about scratch tickets and Megabucks and Mass Millions. How about the losers, who fill out the forms again and again and never quite make it? How about all of us who pat ourselves on the back because a few people are getting year-round housing who might not have it otherwise (and maybe heave a sigh of relief because we ourselves don't have to go through the same ordeal)? Where is the public queasiness? Does everyone out there think that this is okay? Or are we all froggies in that proverbial pot of heating water?
Maybe people who accept moving twice a year as normal aren't likely to think twice about housing lotteries. I've moved 11 times in 23 years and most days I think that's normal, acceptable, the price you pay for living on Martha's Vineyard. After reading "A Tax on Desperation," though, I sat myself down and looked myself in the eye. "Okay," I said to myself, "if lotteries are an acceptable way to allocate housing, why not use the same technique to allocate surgical procedures. Want a cesarean section? an appendectomy? a biopsy for that suspicious lump? Fill out the forms, put your name in the big drum - maybe you'll win an operation!" If I read in next week's paper that the Martha's Vineyard Hospital had instituted such a lottery, I'd be outraged. That's a good sign. Froggy isn't fully cooked yet.
Back in August, I read a news brief in the Martha's Vineyard Times: "Home raffle offers small chance at big dream" (August 21). The Island Affordable Housing Fund and Island Elderly Housing were raffling off a house. Tickets cost $1,000 a piece, only 600 would be sold, and the proceeds would benefit, according to the article, "affordable housing projects, as well as supplement a senior van and a community meals program that help older residents keep their independence." Huh? Obviously no under-housed Islander of modest means was going to fork over $1,000 for a 1/600th chance at a house, energy-efficient or not. Anyone with the wherewithal to buy a $1,000 lottery ticket probably had a house already, maybe two or three houses, at least one of them on Martha's Vineyard. What was the lucky well-heeled winner going to do with a two-bedroom "dream home"? Maybe they'd bestow it on a poor relation. Maybe they'd rent it out for big bucks in the summer and let some lucky Islander live there the other eight or nine months of the year. Did no one at IAHF or IEH feel just a tad queasy at the idea of raffling off a house to people who don't need a home, to support projects for those who do?
The raffle was scheduled to close on October 11. The date came and went with no front-page story in either Island paper, so I went to the raffle website, www.key2mv.org, to see what was up. The raffle had been cancelled. "Although tickets have sold at a brisk pace," says the open letter to ticket holders and potential ticket buyers, "and we thought that the weeks leading up to the drawing would bring a further surge in sales, we have seen a dramatic slowdown in the number of tickets sold since word of Wall Street's problems have hit the news." Truly, it's an ill wind that blows no one good: "Wall Street's problems" seem to have rescued the Island Affordable Housing Fund from its own ill-conceived fundraiser. Maybe now the fund will take the advice that Nis Kildegaard offered to Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick: call the gambling hotline and say, "Hello, I'm calling for the affordable housing organizers of Martha's Vineyard. We need to talk. I think we're addicted to gambling."
Susanna J. Sturgis
Thanks to so many
To the Editor:
The Artists for Obama Fundraiser held at Dragonfly Gallery and the Alison Shaw Gallery on October 12 and 13 is proud to have raised $21,535 for the Obama campaign. This was truly a grassroots event that left everyone involved, including the over 50 participating artists, gallery owners Holly, Alison and Sue, the public who had an unprecedented chance to donate and choose a piece of Island art, and the others who gave freely of their time and expertise feeling inspired, happy and grateful. Everyone gave for the future of our country.
All involved deserve a big thank-you, and a few people need a special word. Holly Alaimo, who said yes to hosting without hesitation, Pam Coblyn, our graphic designer, the spectacular gallery helpers, the Gazette, particularly Julia Rappaport, and the Martha's Vineyard art community, some of whose members donated more than one piece. A special mention must be made to Alison Shaw who raised almost a third of our money through the donation of dozens of her incredible photographs. Lastly, I thank the Martha's Vineyard people who generously supported this fundraiser.
To all my Island artist friends, I am so proud to be part of a group whose members are so wise and generous. Yes, we can.
Artists for Obama
Many helpers, many thanks
To the Editor:
We are writing to mention and thank a group of individuals who work behind the scenes (i.e. authorized personnel only) delivering valuable services that we would like to bring to light. On September 23 and 24, two informational meetings were held, one at the Wampanoag Tribal Administration Building in Aquinnah and one at the Tisbury Senior Center in Vineyard Haven. The occasion was a visit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to conduct a Tularemia and Lyme Disease Study for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) members and their families.
While the CDC provided much in the way of materials needed to conduct the study, in addition to traveling from Colorado and Georgia, to lend their expertise, we were still in need of phlebotomists to draw blood from participants in the study. We had asked for volunteers from another organization, and they declined but thought they could muster up the required personnel, if we could pay for the services. The Wampanoag Health Service staff is small and currently without a nurse or funds to pay for such services. An email was sent to Carol Bardwell, chief nursing officer at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, explaining our dilemma. She coordinated with Lynn Mercier, lab manager, and in short order we had the volunteers needed to make the event a success. In addition, Carol engaged Donna Enos, infection control nurse at the hospital, and she quickly volunteered to assist.
It wasn't known in advance how many people might participate, but nurses and phlebotomists were willing to donate their time as needed, sacrificing an evening of much earned and deserved relaxation at home. As it turned out, the response and number of folks who turned out for the study was much higher than anticipated. Participants and staff alike were not only appreciative but in awe of how this sudden demand was met with immeasurable calm and cheerfulness. Each participant was shown unrivaled courtesy, care, and compassion, without exception.
At the end of each evening, after the last draw was made, it was necessary for the blood samples to be "spun down" in a centrifuge. Again, this required equipment and skill that was not available at the Wampanoag Health Service clinic. Again, it was Lynn Mercer (and her devoted staff) at the MVH lab who came through, quite late at night, to assist the CDC with this aspect of the study.
Tribal members who couldn't make it to the appointed study dates may still participate by going to the MVH lab. It is the same dedicated staff facilitating the continued collection of data for this important study, as well as lending the use of the centrifuge for preparing the samples for shipping and delivery to the CDC.
So, our hats are off to the following individuals for their outstanding volunteer service: Donna Enos, Muriel Monaco, Ellen O'Brien, Liz Wilson and the lab technicians who put in hours late at night in this effort. I wish I had all of the names of the wonderful staff behind those closed laboratory doors who worked tirelessly through the night. You are unsung heroes.
Thank you, Carol Bardwell and Lynn Mercer for all of your support, professionalism and "can do" attitudes.
As the new hospital goes up, it is important to note that bricks and mortar don't make a great hospital. People like you are what make a hospital great. You are all wonderful assets to this community. Our most sincere gratitude goes out to you.
Environmental Health Coordinator
Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Yes on Five
To the Editor:
We are writing to urge voters in Tisbury to vote yes on Question 5 in the November 4 election. This question will allow the town to continue planning for the new Emergency Services building that voters approved to construct at the site of the present Annex building at our recent town meeting. Tisbury's planning board, Emergency Services Committee, and selectmen have worked hard to thoroughly explore alternatives and come to consensus on, not only the site, but the effect of the chosen site on other municipal buildings and services.
This new building will address several infrastructure problems, not the least of which are an aging fire station located in a flood plain and an ambulance barn in an inaccessible back corner of a busy downtown parking lot across from the SSA. Further, the town is mandated to purchase a replacement ambulance in the next two years, and ambulances small enough to fit into our current garage at the police station are no longer manufactured. This proposed consolidation of services into a new site is a necessary start to solve one of our town's critical and long-standing concerns - moving emergency services out of the most congested and flood-prone area of our town.
The town's accountant reassured voters that our credit rating is solid, that we have been paying down our old debt, and that we are not going out on a financial limb with this borrowing - despite this time of economic downturn. The town is required by state regulations to expend a certain amount of money to develop plans for the project and hire a project manager. The voters will be able to weigh in on plans for the emergency services building only after they are developed and presented at the spring town meeting.
Please vote yes on Question 5 to keep the project on course.
Tisbury Volunteer Ambulance Association
Dedicated public servants
To the Editor:
Our ex-assistant fire chief Tom Colligan is a man with boundless loyalty for his fellow firefighters and this town. He has spent his adult life dedicated to the department saving lives and homes. The safety of his men was always his first thought: to make sure they got in to fight the fire and more importantly that they all got out safe and sound.
I want to thank the men and women who are steadfast and loyal to the man who taught them how to be great firefighters. Being honest and true to themselves and others is what makes them into real strong men or women. The people that children want to look up to and want to be like when they grow up. Do you remember that feeling?
I commend people like Chief Clark and Tom Colligan and Mike Ciancio, who were truly dedicated to the job and unfortunately left before their time. Money and power were never top on the list for these brave men. Dedicated volunteer firefighters do the job for the safety of everyone and their property throughout this Island.
I'd like to thank all the firefighters who are maintaining their positions at this time, despite the moral problems. Loyalty issues during the past several years are finally coming to light in this department. It's questionable whether firefighters can do the job safely under these conditions. Hopefully there will be a big change by the next town meeting.
I would like to personally thank you, Tom, for doing a great job.
To the Editor:
Enough is enough. The comment by the McCain supporter who said she couldn't trust Obama because he's an Arab is unacceptable. We all need to be angry that this kind of hatred and stupidity is broadcast on national television, on You Tube and other public forums.
In some ways we've "gotten it," that it is wrong to hate people because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or whatever attribute someone might find less than desirable or in some way inferior, but somehow it's still acceptable to use "Arab" or "Muslim" as denigration of another person.
Our pastry chef, Rafat "Raffi" Jabri is from Jordan. He's an Arab, he's a Muslim, a U.S. citizen, and a good man. He is a hardworking, honest, moral, and devout. And he's a great pastry chef, as many of you know.
We need to confront those people who speak and act out their hatred. We cannot, through our silence, let anyone think that we accept or approve of those actions. Take hatred personally: speak up, speak out.
Janice Casey and Rita Brown
Martha's Vineyard Gourmet Café and Bakery