Letters to the Editor
Thanks from Red Stocking
To the Editor:
It is that time of year once again to thank the entire Vineyard community for enabling Red Stocking to provide food, clothing, and toys to 345 children from 232 Island families. Last year we served 334 children from 230 families.
While we expected a large increase in applicants this year due to the economic situation, the numbers remained almost exactly the same. This phenomenon may be explained by the fact that the families which we provide for are not those who are invested in the stock market and suffering direct losses. However, we may see an increase next year if unemployment continues to rise.
Our contributions remained steady. The generosity of our supporters was sufficient to allow us to meet the needs of all our applicants. This year we expended over $30,000 on food alone and between $45,000 and $50,000 on clothing. Our toys are all donated by individuals and organizations both on and off Island.
As is customary, each year we spotlight one group to especially thank. This year we would like to publicly acknowledge the Red Stocking advisory board members. Each year these eight members of the community are there to provide their "piece of the puzzle," so that this extensive effort can happen smoothly, efficiently, and with good cheer. This is a very unusual un-bureaucratic board in that we meet only once a year to establish dates. Then each person does his thing, and it miraculously culminates in December when more than 4,000 individually wrapped items get distributed in a three-hour span.
Barbara Silvia, our treasurer, collects the money and pays the bills, as well as doing a myriad of other tasks throughout the year. Patricia Carlet obtains and assigns books to each child, a bigger challenge this year without the Bunch of Grapes, which has been so generous in past years. Gail Craig and Meaghan Morris organize the mountain of toys and ensure that they are wrapped and equitably assigned. Mike Joyce does a masterful job organizing the sorting and packing of each child's gifts. Peg Goodale is the backstage manager, ensuring that needed supplies are always available and cleaning up Grace Church after the rest of us. Shirley Robinson does much of the individual clothes shopping. Jo Weinberg, our newest member, who replaced longstanding volunteer Marcella Provost, had her introduction this year by organizing diapers for 100 children under the age of two, a daunting task. They all pitch in to provide a sendoff for the Harley riders in November, to ladle chowder at the Chowder Fest in December, and to run the Chili Contest in January. None seeks any recognition. They do their jobs efficiently, cheerfully, and tirelessly. How lucky the Vineyard is to have such dedicated volunteers. We could not begin to do this job without them.
In addition, we very gratefully thank all our contributors, vendors, shoppers, volunteers, wrappers, the churches, the schools, and the businesses who automatically come forth each year to do their part. We are humbled to be part of such an organization.
Kerry H. Alley and Lorraine Clark
Services that can help
To the Editor:
We at Martha's Vineyard Community Services are concerned about the impact of recent events on our community. Clearly, the economic issues are impacting most, if not all, of us. Although MVCS does not provide financial support, we recognize that having a place and person to go to when there are concerns can be helpful. We are available to provide an ear as well as linkages to other services that people may find they need but don't know how to access.
In difficult economic times, other issues, such as alcohol abuse, depression, and domestic violence also may increase. Island Counseling Center provides affordable behavioral health and substance use counseling that may be covered in part by insurance. CONNECT to end violence provides free services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, their families and significant others.
Some of the recent issues on Martha's Vineyard involving drugs and substance abuse, allegations of three inappropriate conduct with students, alcohol and sexual abuse are receiving a great deal of attention and many on-line comments. Parents are worried about the safety of their children and adolescents and are looking for guidance about how to prevent incidents; identify warning signs of adults who may not be trustworthy; and recognize substance abuse by teens. Some are asking what the community can do. MVCS has several programs that may be resources for those who have been affected.
For example: Early Childhood Programs - Talking About Touching, a program that helps children preschool through third grade establish personal safety. This program has been offered in the Oak Bluffs School, Charter School, Martha's Vineyard Hospital Pre-School, and will be in the Grace Church Pre-school in January. For more information about Talking About Touching or parenting support groups, contact Marney Toole at 508-693-7900, ext. 283.
CONNECT to end violence - Counseling for victims, families; information to help understand abuse by trusted adults and identify warning signs. Contact Carrie White at 508-693-7900, ext. 220, or for a crisis contact the Hotline at 508-696-SAFE (7233)
Island Counseling Center- For alcohol and substance abuse counseling and behavioral health counseling for children, adolescents and parents; therapy for those who have been affected. Contact 508 693 7900 x 225 to apply for services. If in crisis, call Emergency Services 508 693 0032
We are part of this community and are here to be of help to Martha's Vineyard. Call or visit our website www.mvcommunityservices.com. Please contact us so that we may provide the support and connection to others that we all need during these difficult times.
Martha's Vineyard Community Services
It's not a matter of years
To the Editor:
I have been keeping some good advice for some time. It is obviously for all time.
As indicated regularly in newspapers, some people want to emphasize the unwanted troubles of aging. So here is some information. I have difficulty having sufficient copies on hand - so many people have asked for it. So I'm sending it to you, trusting you will publish it in its entirety. I'm sure it will be welcomed by all!
"Doctors say time is not toxic and not cause of old age ills" excerpt from article in New York Herald Tribune, July 18, 1948, by John J. O'Neil
"Time is not toxic. This was the conclusion reached by a group of medical specialists and surgeons in the staff conference at the De Courcy Clinic in Cincinnati, in discussing the problem of disease in the aging individual. Years alone, they decided, have no effect in bringing about degenerative disorders. Anyone who thinks that because he or she is getting along in years that loss of vigor, debilities, or degenerative disorders should be experienced, is suffering from a 'time neurosis' which may be more effective than physical conditions in producing the effect they fear... Every human tissue is endowed with potential immortality when adequately provided with food factors, oxygen and suitable warmth, and when removal of waste is carefully effected. Time has no effect on human tissues under any conditions... Vigor does not necessarily vary inversely with the age of the adult... Belief in the effects of time tends to reduce ambition, therefore expectations and endeavors are curtailed. All those who develop a time neurosis subscribe to the prevalent superstition that time is in some way a poison exerting a mysterious, cumulative action. The obsession itself may be the cause of definitely premature aging."
Veil the darkness, but ...
To the Editor:
Last week I wrote a letter suggesting that your paper could have been more discrete in reporting all the allegations against Dan Johnson. Your title above my letter was "Veil the darkness." You missed the point completely. What I tried to say was: "Unveil the darkness: only more judiciously."
Moorings and the rules
To the Editor:
This is a copy of letter to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.
In May, I informed the selectmen that Chapter XVIII of the Oak Bluffs by-Laws, approved by the board in March 1972, provides in Sec.8, "No leasing of private moorings," and in Sec. 10, "No person shall be allowed more than one mooring." These regulations were expanded by the then harbormaster Gus Ben David to read in Sec. 2, "There will be no leasing of any privately owned moorings," and in Sec. 3, "In case of sale of owner's boat, the mooring will be removed or turned over to the town of Oak Bluffs," and in Sec. 5, "At no time will an owner of one boat have or own more than one private mooring."
In 1995, harbormaster Todd Alexander promulgated more extensive harbor regulations, which provide as follows:
"Sec. 1. The harbormaster...is authorized under MGL Chapter 102, et. seq., to establish regulations for the moorings in Oak Bluffs waters."
"Sec. 4. Permits for the use of mooring locations are granted by the harbormaster for the calendar year. No person shall place a vessel other than the vessel of record on any mooring without the prior approval of the harbormaster. Moorings shall not be sublet, sold, transferred, rented, swapped, reassigned, relocated, or bartered. The ground tackle of an expired or forfeited mooring must be removed at the expense of the individual who is giving up the mooring."
"Sec. 7. No person shall have more than one mooring in the waters of Oak Bluffs."
The East Chop Beach Club has maintained during the 2007 and 2008 seasons 20 private moorings in violation of the above cited regulations in three aspects; namely, it maintains more than one mooring, the boats of record are not owned by the club, and these moorings are rented to those members who pay a fee of $900 to join the East Chop Yacht Club. The town receives only the $150 permit fee for each mooring.
I, therefore, advised that when these permits expire on December 31, these moorings should be turned over to the town to be managed as seasonal rentals. Under the harbor regulations, the rental fee is set by the selectmen on the recommendation of the harbormaster. Todd Alexander has informed me that a fair rental fee for the 2009 season would be $1,500, thereby providing the town an additional income of $30,000. I noticed recently that the principal of the high school is laying off 5.5 employees. I am certain there will be budget cuts coming in most departments in the town of Oak Bluffs.
For some reason the board and/or the town administrator referred my recommendations to town counsel who spent the summer "researching the matter." I learned a couple of weeks ago that "the matter" has now been referred to the office of the state Inspector General.
These 20 mooring permits will automatically expire on December 31. The Inspector General has no authority over mooring permits issued in the waters of Oak Bluffs Harbor. This authority is vested in the harbormaster. If the East Chop Beach Club wants to appeal the decision of the harbormaster to enforce The town's regulations and not renew the 20 illegal permits, the club can appeal his decision, not to the Inspector General, but to the only entity, under the laws of the Commonwealth, that can overrule a local harbormaster, namely, the Division of Waterways Regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. If this division believes the appeal has merit, the club will be granted a hearing in Boston. In the interim, the town will receive $30,000 in rental fees. Although he would not be required to do so, the harbormaster could give preference for renting the seasonal moorings to those boat owners who have been renting from the club.
Joseph Sequeira Vera
Oak Bluffs and Cambridge
So many to thank
To the Editor:
This is just a thank you letter to all of the people who sent me well wishes, cards, flowers, and notes when I lost my sister, Eloise Downing-Allen, five years ago. I think of her every single day and still miss her dearly. Few people can appreciate what it is like to lose a sister who is also your best friend and advisor for more than 70 years. Her passing devastated me, so I keep her picture by my side to this day.
Thank you all very much. You know who you are.
A lot has happened to me since then.
Two years ago, I had a life-threatening illness. I was taken to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital's emergency room, where I was losing so much blood that they had to tilt me on my head just to keep me conscious. They were giving me blood, but they could not stop the bleeding. They were just about out of my blood type and the Med-i-vac helicopter was en route, but it had not yet arrived. We had to wait again after they touched down, because all of the major hospitals in the area were full, and we did not know where we could go.
If not for the quick-acting, well-trained nurses/miracle workers on staff I would not be here today. Somehow they were able to stabilize me enough to get me into the helicopter and to New England Medical Center strong enough to survive a very challenging diagnosis, a number of complex procedures, two surgeries, and months or rehabilitation.
I know that I don't have much time left. I am hanging on to see Barack Obama's inauguration in January and hopefully long enough to see my grandchildren one more time this summer. I just wanted to thank everyone who was involved in my life so far and all those who gave me these past two years.
What I have seen happen in this country within the past months was worth a lifetime of waiting. I only wish I had my best friend, my advisor, my sister Eloise to share this time with me.
Gloria Downing Pope (Gigi)
To the Editor:
I'd like to thank the two kind gentleman who helped pull my car off of the side of Edgartown/West Tisbury Road on Friday afternoon, after it fell in a little ditch.
The weather conditions were awful, and I was so grateful to have such kind people help me out.
Greatly appreciated, and happy holidays.
A selectman's failure
To the Editor:
According to the minutes of the Martha's Vineyard Commission's December 15 land use planning committee (LUPC) meeting, chairman Ron DiOrio expressed his "chagrin" to find Bradley Square still entangled in the regulatory process 15 months after he and his board of selectmen had "approved" this project. He then proceeded to describe the group who negotiated the compromise with the IAHF/IHT as a "small minority pushing around the majority" and added a few mean-spirited remarks about some of its members.
I wish somebody could explain why he felt he had to ride his high horse into battle, now that the fight he deserted is pretty much over. Does he still not understand that the people he is criticizing felt compelled to act because he and his board failed to?
The flaws in the project that our selectman spared no energy promoting were revealed almost a year ago when it became clear that those whose lives would be directly affected had been left out of the picture. Neighbors and abutters spoke up relentlessly, letters pleading for the town's intervention were sent, and selectman Kerry Scott pressed the issue numerous times with her colleagues.
Yet, Mr. DiOrio stubbornly ignored the warning signs and kept encouraging the IAHF/IHT and the regulatory commissions to steamroll over the most sensible objections. His determination to ram Bradley Square down the neighborhood's throat is what brought the Oak Bluffs Concerned Citizens Committee (OBCCC) to life. Our sole objective was to do what the board of selectmen could have done six months earlier: give the neighbors and abutters a chance to be heard. Now the arsonist wants to blame the fire department?
If his spiteful comments were inspired by the town's recent vote to maintain the CPA funding for Bradley Square, he is clearly ignoring the history behind the defeated motion. When the OBCCC was created, Mr. Muckerheide had already collected 100 signatures and the committee's only goal in acquiring more signatures was to strengthen its negotiating position. Donny Muckerheide's initiative to file "his" signatures in spite of the ongoing discussions was very unfortunate, and the OBCCC made it clear to the joint committee that it did not endorse this move. Our intention was to find alternatives, not to kill the project. When at the town meeting Mr. Lambert suggested a delay of the funding decision, his fear was that the vote would encourage the board to continue sitting on its hands (he was right).
The compromise plan resulting from the OBCCC's action is far from perfect, but it addresses many of the neighborhood's concerns. Yes, it does look like a parking lot, but this is unfortunately as good as it gets when less than half an acre is supposed to host that much activity without completely overrunning the neighborhood. The reality is that we, private citizens, had no other choice but to conduct our negotiations within the limits of a very narrow box.
No doubt better solutions are possible, but they are beyond the reach of an informal group like the OBCCC. Ron Mechur (a town planning professional) suggested to eliminate a building, preserve the Denniston church, and provide affordable housing and commercial space at a smaller scale. This alternative would of course require a rethinking of the financial structure which, quite understandably, the IAHF/IHT has no incentive to engage in without the help of the elected officials who have the resources and the authority to find an equitable outcome.
The catch is that any form of dialog or mediation initiated by the board would inevitably lead to the conclusion that its chairman hadn't quite done his homework when he decided to aggressively promote the project. Unfortunately, such a minor display of humility seems too pricey for Mr. Chairman. For the past year, he preferred to keep himself and his team on the sideline, watching his constituents, the IAHF/IHT, the Martha's Vineyard Commission, and the ZBA waste their time in frustrating and unnecessary debates.
Judging from his performance at last week's LUPC meeting, Mr. DiOrio has obviously no intentions to change his attitude. So be it, but if he really is that concerned with the project's delays, could he at least act as a selectman and spare us the petty comments? I know a few people as stubborn and inflexible as he, who are impatiently waiting for an excuse to pick a new fight and contribute to his "chagrin."
To the Editor:
Majority rule is the proposition that 51 percent of the people should be able to get whatever they want. Some consider this the same as democracy, but it is not; at least, it is not the same as American democracy. In order for a true democracy, 51 percent of the people must lose. Otherwise, 49 percent of Americans have no representation, rights or protection under the law.
Race, more than any other organizing category with the possible exception of sexual orientation, continues to drive our nation into frenzies that lead to unparalleled viciousness. Why?