Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
This morning, February 15, we got our first snowdrop, a sign of spring.
Enforce the laws
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the Vineyard community. I'm a carpenter, trying hard to support my young family. I'm a soccer coach, and my wife is a Girl Scout leader. Both of our children were born here.
These are difficult times. Maybe we are experiencing the kind of hard times that we only heard about in school. But for my family, the hard times are now.
I've been pounding the pavement on the Island for months and have found no work. What is difficult for me is that on most job sites - jobs that I would be paying my bills with, putting food on my family's table - the work is going to people who are not citizens, and most, not even legal.
If someone comes from another country, has entered the country legally and is living in legal quarters, and they outbid me on a job, I take my hat off to them. That's what America is about.
The problem is pretty deep, though. People have mortgages that they should never have been granted. Now, the housing bubble has burst, and people are doing what they have to do to survive, including renting their houses to as many as 15 illegals. This in itself wouldn't be so bad. All it does is strain the Island's limited resources. But, the cost to people like me is awful and immediate. It tips the playing field. I have to pay $1,400 a month rent. I can't compete with someone who is paying $300.
Because many people who are breaking these laws are otherwise upstanding people, people I know and sympathize with, the boards of health and other agencies have chosen to look the other way. The contractors, who are hiring these illegal individuals, are not paying taxes, nor providing workman's compensation, liability and other insurances that I must provide in order to conduct my business.
I feel bad for the individuals who have come here in the hopes of a new, better life. Many have made terrible sacrifices in order to come here, but there is no more fat. In these lean times, the Island's government needs to protect its citizens.
I'm not asking for anything draconian. Just enforce the laws that are on the books. Enforce the very laws that if a citizen would break, would get them evicted.
I know there is a delicate balance between compassion and the law. I'm simply saying that the balance has tipped, and hard-working Island residents are paying a price that they can't afford.
It is my hope that this letter will spur the authorities to take meaningful action. I, like many of my peers, are just a few weeks away from homelessness.
Please, I'm asking my peers, the Island leaders, the clergy, and law enforcement, to make this problem a priority.
A wonderful lifestyle lost
To the Editor:
Poor Martha. What has happened to the natives that cared about our wonderful lifestyle and unique community? I was an avid hunter and fisherman as a young adult, and covered much of the Island, as I am also a water well driller by trade. I have seen our Island's development and been a part of it, but the hardest part of being exposed to the whole process has been dealing with transplants, buyers, builders, and developers that have no morals, hearts, or concern for neighbors or the environment.
Quote from a potential customer: "Bob, you drilled a well for me two years ago, and now someone wants to build on the lot next to me, What can we do to stop it?"
I married Dot's daughter and moved onto this property in the early 1970s, before zoning, when our neighbors were farmers and fishermen. We had over the years different types of work as typical Islanders.
We have fished for food, so we have a scallop boat and a pleasure boat. We drill wells and dig excavations, so we have equipment for that also. We've had pigs, chickens, and numerous gardens to supply food. I would say we were typical Island working class. This is all about survival, this is our home.
The change here comes with zoning. Who is it for? Does it work? Common questions. All I know is that I have seen it work against me. We live in a critical district of Katama. I never really could understand who drew the lines and why. Acre and a half zoning, but I can't keep my clothes line (don't want to waste energy with a dryer). I can only have one unregistered vehicle. Well, a lot of us need five vehicles for only four to five months of the year. Funny how stuff collects all winter, then spring cleaning comes once work picks up and you can afford dump fees. I have three children that seem to have five friends each (adopted lads). Now we have bikes, basketballs, skateboards, and more vehicles. Typical native family?
We are next to real estate that is approximately 70 acres. For some reason, zoning allowed a cluster development that allowed ¾-acre lots, as opposed to one and a half acres. This doubled the septic systems, but that was okay. They ran in town water. (I, along with most neighbors, have a well. We all worry about the environment.)
Leave a buffer zone all around this subdivision to conceal it from the road and neighbors, maybe for privacy, and environmentally a good thing. Well it's been a few years, let's clear cut it and make our lots bigger or cut a path to the field next door. "Hey look over there, next door. There goes my equity." I remember a day when neighbors meant something different. Can we continue to survive on this Island?"
Once again, we're the schmucks
To the Editor:
I never cease to be amazed at how our politicians can misuse the English language. "Stimulus package?" How about a "welfare" or "massive redistribution of wealth" or a "headlong sprint into extreme socialism" package.
Here is how some $800 billion of our tax dollars will be spent. Over a third it, some $300 billion is in aid. Some examples: $87 billion to increase Medicaid rolls, or let's nationalize health care faster, $27 billion to increase unemployment benefits, and $17 billion to increase student aid. I understand the need to care for our truly disadvantaged, but our yet unmet priority is to create jobs and offer opportunity to our disadvantaged. Except for a few more government paper shufflers, how many new jobs will this $300 billion really create?
Another $300 billion is for tax cuts. Within that, $116 billion is for a $400 tax credit, even if you didn't pay taxes. Here is another English lesson for our politicians: if you didn't pay taxes you can't get a credit for it; it is a welfare payment. And if you earned more than $100,000 when you had a job, don't wait by your mail box for your check, you won't be getting one. This is the same quick-fix, throw-money-at-the-problem that Congress and Bush tried last spring. How well did that work for us? How many new jobs did it create? Nada. So this time we are doubling down from last year's $60 billion. Well, simple math tells me that nada times two is still nada.
The balance of $200 billion is infrastructure build-out for alternative energy, bridge repair, and other "shovel-ready" jobs. A shovel-ready public job is an oxymoron. You may be ready with your shovel, but then you slam into the government bureaucracy and you wait. Anyone on this Island that has been "shovel-ready" to do some building painfully appreciates the delays that our multitude of quasi-public agencies can cause. Our drawbridge repair has been "shovel-ready," yet, except for an occasional policeman sitting in his car, there hasn't been a constant flurry of activity. These shovel-ready projects won't be a jolting stimulus; perhaps at best they may be a slow IV drip.
Some $20 billion is to computerize our medical records, or let's nationalize health care faster. IBM hasn't had any layoff, the computer techies are relatively gainfully employed, and they don't need a stimulus.
Memo to Congress, we have a housing and construction crisis; it's our builders, carpenters, and trades people that need the stimulus. Let's put the money where it will do the most good to create jobs.
Our priority still remains to get the toxic assets off the banks' books, so they can lend again to get the economy moving. Yes, I know it is coming. But we've just squandered some $800 billion on the left's social agenda, and we haven't yet attacked the main issue, stimulating the economy and creating real jobs. This stimulus package has stimulated only the egos of our elected officials, who smile at an adoring press and tell us how they have avoided a catastrophe for us. Then again, maybe those smiles are because they know they have yet again stuck it to us.
Phase out the Martha's Vineyard Commission
To the Editor:
The recent controversy about the budget for the Martha's Vineyard Commission has made me think that the $1,161,497, their annual budget, could be put to better use by the towns for their budget needs. It seems that the commission has outlived its usefulness, as all the towns have stringent zoning regulations and very accomplished planning boards. Let's face it, the era of big development on the Vineyard has passed. I think it is time to start fazing out the commission and get on with our lives.
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to Carter Luke, president, M.S.P.C.A.
This email is sure to be one of many that you will receive regarding the closing of the Martha's Vineyard shelter. Martha's Vineyard, as you must know, is a resort Island, so I'll start with the resort half of that description.
As thoughtless as it is, there are many summer visitors to the Vineyard who think its a great idea to get a cute little kitten or puppy for the summer. These are mostly college students who clearly don't think in the long term. So what happens to these animals come late August? Well, up until this coming summer, they more than likely ended up at the MSPCA, to be adopted by one of the myriad animal lovers who call the Vineyard home.
Now for the Island half. This place is a, well, it's an Island. To get to the closest open MSPCA shelter, one will have to pack up the pet he or she intends to abandon, buy a hundred or so dollar ferry ticket, and drive to, where, Centerville? Boston? Methuen? Honestly, what is the likelihood of that? It's just devastating to consider the fate that countless animals will suffer due to the complete lack of a working shelter here on the Vineyard.
I have attached a photo of my cat, Buh'kitty, who was adopted from the Vineyard MSPCA in November of 2007. She would not be in our home if not for our shelter.
We need a shelter, and your help
To the Editor:
How can we allow our Island to be without an animal shelter? This is not just a rescue and find-a-home shelter, but one that gives aid to strays and animals given up by their owners, by having them checked out by our capable local animal doctors, who then neuter them. The MSPCA implants a chip into each animal so that they can be located if they stray again. As a result of the good work of the Martha's Vineyard MSPCA, there are no stray dogs and relatively few stray cats wandering the roads and woods of our Island.
We need, as a community, to step up by volunteering or assisting financially. There is already a good base for operation in place, and if handled properly, the additional funds required to stabilize and keep the shelter are not substantial.
Please send an e-mail ASAP to executive director Ron Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him that you do not want to see the MSPCA close down and that you are interested in making a commitment by becoming a member of a community-based animal shelter. Your email will go onto a list of potential member/volunteers, which will be sent to the MSPCA, and with significant community support, perhaps we can form a board of dedicated volunteers who are serious about charting a future course for the shelter. Please help our animals on our Island and send an email now.
Enough of Dr. Koehler
To the Editor:
Enough of the Dr. Richard Koehler saga, already. Obviously, the man, along with his friends, has some issues, one of which is the inability to understand no. Surely there are other interesting happenings on the Vineyard worthy of note and print space. We get it, doctor. You don't think the hospital is being fair. Aw. Your need for public approval and support is verging on nauseating. Leave us in peace, please. Give it, and us, a rest. I do believe the world has enough pompous, self-important, self-congratulating surgeons to go around. I'm sure Plymouth residents are deeply appreciative of your considerable skills. Why deny them your undivided time and proximity? And if you are that indispensable, a trip to Plymouth can be a wonderful experience for those so inclined.
J. Scott Brockmeyer
To the Editor:
After five years of strong objections by the Barnstable, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard airports and others on the safety of the 400,000 flights per year over Nantucket Sound, the Federal Aviation Administration, on (FAA) Friday, February 13, formally issued a notice of Presumed Hazard for Cape Wind. The project would affect three FAA radar sites in North Truro, Nantucket, and at Otis Air Force Base that provide detection of aircraft for Air Traffic Control. The FAA finding states that wind turbines can cause radar interference and reduce the probability of detecting small aircraft and that each of the 130 structures "exceed obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities."
In a 2008 letter to the FAA, the three local airports jointly stated "while we all believe strongly in the need for renewable energy, the placement of a 25-square-mile wind plant in the middle of the three busiest airports in the state, in some of the most unpredictable weather conditions on the East Coast, poses an unacceptable risk to both our aircraft operators and passengers." While the FAA notice suggests proposed mitigation, world experience has shown that there is no effective mitigation for this level of interference, short of relocating the proposed project to a more appropriate site outside of highly concentrated and frequently low altitude flight paths.
The developer and his supporters have the right idea, renewable energy. But perhaps, just maybe, for so many reasons, the wrong location. The developer may, after all, have to invest in real estate where the location is reflective of safety for both, human and marine life. This project is coated with negative components, and it screams devastating/hazardous possibilities.
Undeserved bad treatment
To the Editor:
I owe a personal debt of gratitude to a man who is in my view the best firefighter and teacher that I ever knew in the town of Tisbury. Tom Colligan has been a faithful Tisbury firefighter for more than 35 years. His leadership was instrumental in all aspects of the training programs instituted both in Tisbury and Island-wide. Many of today's Tisbury firefighters were not only trained by him but also recruited by him over the years. Tom's leadership was not only in the classroom either. He was always first at the door and the last one out. His experience and knowledge was always used to ensure the safety of the firemen first and then, under his direction, we'd put the fire out.
Tom was instrumental in the planning that put the towns together for mutual aid. He also made wonderful and lasting contacts with the state's training council and the Mass fire academy.
I could go on, but only another volunteer fireman would understand. Let's just say his reputation will probably not be exceeded anytime soon. He went out with his honor intact.
What I want to know is why he was forced into an executive session where his integrity was threatened, a venue where the judges never bothered to find out the other side of the story. Accusations were made that couldn't be proven and were totally overplayed. This has unfortunately caused the firemen, the department, and the town of Tisbury a huge and irreplaceable loss.
Ask yourself, you spend 35-plus years, a few nights a week, half days on Sundays, just to be firefighter and trainer, plus all the calls you respond to days and in the middle of the night; you leave your loved ones to risk your life to help others; and then after 35 years, not even a thank-you from the town? From the fire department?
When the town leaders found out this travesty happened in mid-October, they let it slide. They hoped it would blow over. They are wrong.
LT Dan Feeney
Irving, not Gardner
To the Editor:
Susan Wilson wrote a great tribute to John Updike, one of my favorite writers, too. He presents a challenge to any of us who write. However, John Irving, not John Gardner, wrote "The World According to Garp." That, and several other books of his, including "A Prayer for Owen Meany," certainly place him in that group of writers whose names are synonymous with literature.
To the Editor:
I was almost shocked to read last week's Letter to the Editor that someone had stolen the brand-new, handcrafted cross put at Brandy Gibson's memorial site. The 29th of January was a day to celebrate her life and spirit. Of course, someone had to go and ruin that for all of us who were her friends by stealing her cross.
The reason I say almost is because I'm assuming that the same people who kept stealing her flowers, planted by Emma Vancour, also thought it was necessary to steal such a beautiful cross created by a friend. This Island has changed into such a different place. I remember when I was younger that things like this would never have happened around here. I just wonder what has happened to the loving community we use to be? It takes a really awful person to steal from a memorial of a young girl. Why do it? Why be so resentful? Whoever you are, you live every day. You have friends and family. Brandy's friends and family lost her and have an emptiness that is unbearable at times. Why don't you just fess up and tell us all what is your problem? I don't think you realize that you're hurting everyone who loved her. You probably don't care, but just step back and think about it. How would you feel if you went to visit a loved one at the cemetery and everything that was there before was now gone? How would you feel? I can almost bet that you would feel like all of us. You would be mad and hurt that someone would sink that low and steal from a memorial.
I just don't understand the thought process behind it. Why would anyone do such a thing? She was such a wonderful and beautiful girl. She was loved by so many, and we all miss her so much.
Please just put the cross back.
To the Editor:
We would like to express our profound appreciation to the incredible staff at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital for their assistance with the preparation, birth, and care of our baby girl. Their holistic support and medical expertise truly are a unique and invaluable asset to the community: Center for Women's Health, the Maternity Ward, Obstetrics Department, the Breastfeeding Network, Vineyard Nursing Association. Thank you ever so much.
Mark, Nicole, and Arjuna DerManelian Begle
We step up
To the Editor:
In this time of economic crisis, it is wonderful to see the community step up to help those in need. The Oak Bluffs Park and Recreation Department recently held a Food and Fuel Valentine's Raffle to benefit not only the Niantic Park Basketball Program but also those who took a chance. The following Island businesses gave generously by way of 100 gallons of fuel each: Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank; RM Packer; Vineyard Oil; Vineyard Propane; and AmeriGas. Food certificates of between $25-$100 were contributed by these Island businesses: American Real Estate; Dockside Marketplace and Marina; Titticut Follies Bed & Breakfast; Cronig's Grocery; Stop & Shop Grocery; Stop & Shop Pharmacy; Reliable Market; and Net Result Fish Market.
Winners had the option of keeping the prize or "giving it forward" to someone else in need. In stressful times like these, history has shown us that family and community can come together in their neighborhood parks and work together. If anyone would like to find out more or contribute to the Niantic Park Restoration Project, please contact the Oak Bluffs Highway and the Parks Dept. at 693-0072.
Oak Bluffs Parks Commissioners