Letters to the Editor
Martha's Vineyard Commission explains budget stance
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Commission, along with the towns and other public entities, is very concerned about how to deal with the current budget crisis. Like the towns, we are getting information about the severity of the budget crisis almost daily. The Martha's Vineyard Commission foresees major reductions in grants and other income, and is prepared to reconsider our budget as we get more information.
As required by law, we adopted a budget last week. However, the Commission agreed not to certify the assessments to the towns for another few weeks, to allow for reconsideration.
The budget adopted by the Martha's Vineyard Commission has an overall budget reduction of almost nine percent, and we managed to keep the increase in assessments to the towns to under one percent. Based on information received from the towns over the past few weeks, our proposed salary increases were in line with what the towns were considering. However, this situation is rapidly changing, and the commission is prepared to consider amending its budget to make sure that our salary adjustments remain generally in line with the towns and other entities. Each organization structures its salaries differently, so we will be looking at all increases that town employees will receive, including steps, longevity, merit, cost of living, etc. Our aim is to shoulder our share of the load in these troubled times, while making sure that our employees are treated like other public servants on the Vineyard.
Treasurer, Martha's Vineyard Commission
No part in the crime
To the Editor:
Your paper extensively covered the theft from the Stop and Shop of a Salvation Army donation jar before Christmas, with both video and an article containing humiliating editorial commentary. I am writing to you now to let you know that all charges against me and Mr. Wey in this matter have been dropped. We had no part in the crime although we did witness it. We should have tried to stop the crime.
Roy Joseph Cavanaugh
Editor's Note: We report this morning in the Court Report that the district attorney declined to prosecute both Mr. Cavanaugh and Timothy G. Wey for larceny from a building and conspiracy, in connection with the theft of the Salvation Army container from the Stop and Shop in December.
How does she do it?
To the Editor:
Holy cow. Once again, an amazing effort by Janet and The Martha's Vineyard Times. For the record, I am consistently impressed by Janet's work on reporting and explaining these complicated, dense, tangled, and protracted projects. Her work and understanding of geothermal and green building issues was excellent - she did the necessary research to understand the subject; yet did more research and questioning until she could explain it to the lay person.
I spent a whole year dreaming up a new project (this wind turbine concept), hoping to stump her with dense emails and long winded expositions, yet again she triumphed, clearly and concisely boiling down my stew into the interesting, engaging, and informative presentation that I read in Thursday's paper.
Over and over, I have found my trust in her is well founded, as I pepper her with on the record and off the record developments in this wind turbine saga.
Thank you, Janet, for once again a job well done, and thank you to the Martha's Vineyard Times for once again being at the forefront of the green revolution here on the Vineyard.
Brian K. Nelson
Nelson Mechanical Design
Nothing but NIMBY
To the Editor:
Your anti-Cape Wind editorial whispers no, but screams NIMBY. Did you not read last week that we are all living five months longer because of cleaner air? And yet you hint that we all should wait. Wait until someday, someone, somewhere will invent "a new needed energy technology."
Yep, that's the ticket. You're right, we all should just wait.
Practical suggestions for the Martha's Vineyard Commission
To the Editor:
It was interesting to listen to the Martha's Vineyard Commission's budget meeting of January 22. The commissioners, with the exception of the county representative, hung their hats on the notion that Martha's Vineyard Commission employees should be paid in relation to the wages earned by exempt employees of other Island towns. The notion that a three- to five-percent increase is normal or acceptable for a public employee's compensation during this economic environment is ludicrous. Let me stress that I understand firsthand the quality and dedication of those employed by the Martha's Vineyard Commission and other public agencies.
Private sector salary increases seldom reach three percent, and in these economic times, layoffs are the norm, not percentage increases. To assume that salary increases are justified or that equality must mirror those increases of other governmental agencies does not hold water.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission has a symbiotic relationship with the six Island towns. Like the remora (the bone fish that attaches itself to sharks in order to eat food scraps shed by the shark while protecting the shark from parasites), the Martha's Vineyard Commission would not exist financially without the assessments levied to the towns. Those assessments should be formulated in the budget process, with some sort of empathy for the towns themselves.
Oak Bluffs has forgone the use of life guards on the beaches in response to budget cuts. Essential services, fire, police, and education have all sacrificed as the Martha's Vineyard Commission has, in order to meet budget requirements. Unfortunately, enabling acts and policies dictate that the Martha's Vineyard Commission use the established time lines and statutes to formulate their budgets. The Martha's Vineyard Commission stresses their leadership role on the Island during the agency's proceedings. Let them demonstrate this quality by being the first public agency to forego salary increases for the upcoming year.
I would suggest the following changes which, if implemented, would help eliminate some of the disagreement and tension between the Martha's Vineyard Commission and the Island towns. Firstly, have the Martha's Vineyard Commission submit written changes to their enabling act to the state legislature for a legislative vote. These written changes to the Martha's Vineyard Commission's enabling act should include changing the budget process to coincide with the timeline used by the Island towns (leading up to town meetings in April). This change would allow the Martha's Vineyard Commission to formulate their budget with the same information being used by towns, during a similar economic climate. Secondly, have the all-Island finance committee written into the enabling act changes, to allow this entity to certify the Martha's Vineyard Commission budget. The goal here is to make the assessments to the town reflect the financial concerns of the Island. Make the public process for assessments be justified by the Martha's Vineyard Commission director and his staff to a board which is neutral to the Martha's Vineyard Commission environment. It is less difficult to convince your own commissioners that the budget is just and equitable. It is more difficult, as the towns are aware, to justify budgets to the taxpaying public at town meeting - a forum that the Martha's Vineyard Commission now is allowed to deflect as a result of their enabling act.
In closing, make the process more transparent by allowing an outside financial agency (all-Island finance committee) to certify your budget. Use the same agency to provide a forum for annual audits.
The above initiatives may not solve all the problems, but they are a step in the right direction by easing the tension produced by the assessment process.
To the Editor:
Thank you to the men and women who responded to my 911 call on January 15. You came at suppertime, in the snow and cold, to rescue this beautiful, old home, which was filling with smoke after the fireplace damper fell closed and could not be reopened. Joanie Condlin and Chuck Cummens calmed me and my little cairn Lily, while what seemed like all of Edgartown's police and fire crew vented the smoke, cleaned out the fireplace and left the house in mint condition.
I am proud of your service and shall always be grateful to you.
Democracy and marijuana
To the Editor:
Our Democracy is under attack again. Question Two on our state ballot asked the people of Massachusetts to decriminalize marijuana in our state for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, with a $100 civil fine. Now I understand that our police will arrest people for trafficking, if caught with an ounce or less. What?
Sixty-five percent of Massachusetts voters said yes, decriminalize marijuana; 349 of our 351 towns and cities said yes; every county in the state said yes. Michael O'Keefe, our Cape and Islands District Attorney, was quoted in this and other papers as stating that this is what happens when people are allowed to vote on Issues. Excuse me, but is this not a Democracy? I have always understood that voting is my right; the basis of our country was built upon the right of the American People to vote on issues of importance. Were you not elected by a vote of the people you are supposed to represent?
This same question relates to all of our elected officials, our courts, its officers, and our police, this is not a police state nor a dictatorship. (It is still a democracy). Over half of Americans live in states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Michigan voted in November by 68 percent to legalize medical marijuana, every town, every county in the state. What do our Massachusetts police not understand? Here is a list of states you can contact that have respected the rights of the people and decriminalized or legalized marijuana, and hemp for recreational, medical, or agricultural use, MA, RI, CT, VL, ME, MD, VA, WV, OH, KY, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, IL, IA, AR, LA, MN, ND, NE, KS, OK, TX, MT, CO, NM, UT, ID,AK, NV, OR, CA, HI. That's 34 out of 50. I am sure these states will help educate you on civil laws and their implementation. UMASS also has some great law courses you should take to further your education on civil fines.
To our police chiefs, elected officials and court officers, I would like to remind you that you work for the people of Massachusetts, not we for you. To Sheriff Michael McCormick: you were quoted in this paper as saying we have no violent criminals in our county jail, that they are all there for alcohol or substance abuse. How many are for marijuana? A non-criminal offense in my state; what does it cost us to imprison these people for a cause that is now legal in Massachusetts?
To the public: please educate yourself, not on DEA-police propaganda and fear tactics, but scientific truth, Google NORML.com (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) and learn the truth about marijuana prohibition. And the collateral damage done to the families of the 20 million. Yes, 20 million Americans arrested and imprisoned since 2000 for marijuana-related offenses. Remember, marijuana law reform is no longer a political liability but a political opportunity (68 percent of voters in Dukes County think so.) Please do what is right regardless of the pressure you receive from above or below. Oppression, fear, and deceit are not the way to lead the people. Honesty, integrity, respect, is.
To the Editor:
Over several years I have observed the Canada geese and the smaller look-alike brant in Ocean Park. This reminded me of when my dad, more than 80 years ago, took me to a gunning camp near South Beach that bordered on Edgartown Great Pond (I was about 12 years old, and now I'm 94).
The camp was owned by Clarence Hayden, Clayton Hoyle, and Tom Williston. They were all businessmen from Oak Bluffs. Mr. Hayden owned the Island House. Mr. Hoyle owned a dry goods and sporting goods store in the three-story Herald Building (now one-story Reliable Market). Mr. Hoyle occupied one of the four stores at ground level of the Herald Building. Mr. Williston owned a gas station and vulcanized tires in a shop near where Terry McCarthy now does business.
George Flynn had a gunning camp almost directly across the pond from our camp, near an area called Swan Neck. Mr. Flynn would invite his wealthy city friends down for several days of hunting. One time, we drove by his camp and noticed many dead geese attached to a shed. It almost looked as though the small shed was shingled with geese.
Now, back to our camp at Edgartown Great Pond, and near South Beach. Many friendly live geese were staked nearby and wooden decoys were set out.
The camp had a small lookout on its roof. It was accessible from inside the camp. The lookout had a comfortable chair inside where he could sit and also see any activity in the pond or sky.
Outside was a large pen with a ramp, and a retractable top that could be opened by the camp's lookout. In the pen, there were young geese called flyers. The flyers would leave the pen when the top was opened and attract the flying geese. Within the pen was a cage with an adult goose that would honk continuously so that her flyers would remember to come back to their pen.
In time the government stopped this entire method of hunting migratory birds. The staked geese and all of the flyers had to be released. Today, many of these geese descendents stay on Martha's Vineyard the year around. Have they inherited some genes from their elder relatives, or is our climate getting warmer?
Robert H. Hughes
To the Editor:
Every once in a while each of us gets a chance to use the one and only hospital for whatever reason.
I had that chance last week, and I'll have to say that I was impressed by their complete professionalism. Keep in mind that I may be prejudiced by the fact that I also work there.
I will make no attempt to name all the staff that had a hand in my care, but the physicians, ER, X-ray, lab, ICU, acute, and dietary performed their duties well and at times-as needed-with great empathy. Even a representative of the hospital administration stopped in to make sure I was okay.
My special thanks goes to the operating room staff, with whom I work, for their great moral support. I'll be back to work very soon; how about Monday?
James M. Harris Jr.
Carbon paw prints
To the Editor:
While dog parks admittedly allow Fidos and owners to get much-needed exercise, one must not overlook the consequences of driving to the parks. The gallons of gas and pounds of carbon dioxide add up. My dog and I prefer walking the local neighborhood, without using the car.
To the Editor:
As we prepare to leave the board of directors of Hospice of Martha's Vineyard as required by our term limit policy, we want to thank the community for embracing, supporting, and sustaining this wonderful Island organization. Connected to and integrated with the worldwide Hospice movement, our local licensed Hospice brings compassionate end of life assistance with decision-making, care, and bereavement support to our friends and neighbors here on the Vineyard. This is and will continue to be our primary and singular focus. As we (reluctantly) take our leave of our official duties on the Hospice board, we are confident in the strength, professionalism, and genuineness of the staff and board who will carry on this valuable work. And we look forward to joining all of you in the comfort of knowing that Hospice of Martha's Vineyard will be there for us and our families when we need it.
Such a success
To the Editor:
The Scottish Society of Martha's Vineyard thanks all those who helped to make our annual Robert Bums Dinner such a success. We'd especially like to thank those who contributed to our scholarship fund auction and raffle. Dick Brown, Cape Air, Joe and Mary Cressy, Bob and Pat Wheeler, Donna Blackburn, Steve and Claudia Ewing, Doug Cabral, Madeline Fisher, Deb Medders, Your Market, Al's Package Store, Phyllis Meras, Phil and Colleen McAndrews, Ed Pierce, Helene Barr, Good Dog Goods, Duncan MacDonald, Highlander Magazine, David and Susan Wilson, Cynthia Robinson, Alan Reekie, Robert and Brenda Wallace, and Bill and Betsy Llewelyn. Thanks to the Harbor View for a great meal, chef Levon Wallace for delicious Allen Farm Haggis, Liz Kane for a tasty Burns 250th birthday cake, Jack Wildauer for his awesome sound system and Trip Barnes, auctioneer, for again humorously separating us Scots from our money, no easy feat. See you all next year.
Scottish Society of M.V, Edgartown