Editorial : Yes on beer and wine, but what will the rules be?
Tisbury voters must decide all over again whether to begin the multi-part process of permitting limited sales of beer and wine. Approval of the proposal next week will not ensure that beer and wine sales will be allowed. The state legislature will be asked to permit a town-filed home rule petition authorizing another vote, this time on the annual town election ballot in 2010. If the legislature agrees, voters will once again be asked to settle the question. The final step will be the development of rules tailored to suit Tisbury's sense of itself. We favor a yes vote to begin this process.
The excellent committee to consider the alcohol question, wisely established by Tisbury selectmen more than two years ago, heard no calamitous forecasts from town leaders or safety officials about the effects of allowing beer and wine sales in restaurants. Indeed, there is no factual basis or widely held opinion, only sentiment, that supports the notion that this is a dangerous choice for the town to make. The view here is that allowing limited beer and wine sales, according to rules carefully designed to fit Tisbury, will be a convenience to town residents, an enhancement for town visitors, and a modest boost for town businesses, all without changing Tisbury significantly, except perhaps for the better. The full text of the committee's report appears, together with related material published on April 10, 2008.
The Tisbury committee to consider the alcohol question discovered interest in having beer and wine available with meals at Tisbury restaurants among many whom it surveyed. They also discovered significant worry that the town's peaceful and historic character would be damaged by the introduction of beer and wine sales. The committee heard no dependable forecasts of calamity, nor any promise of an enormous upswing in business activity that might result from the change. The 50-50 result of the April 2008 vote on this question appears to have accurately reflected the town's balanced uncertainty over the question. Hence, another swing at the issue.
Stimulated by business owners, the town selectmen's thoughtful efforts to place this matter before voters once more seems a responsible reaction to both the current economic circumstances and the inability of the voters to declare themselves convincingly on the subject. Among the considerable body of opinion that objects to the prospective change there is suspicion that, if beer/wine sales are allowed, the rules developed to control the purveyors and the oversight of enforcement efforts will be inadequate. In addition, opponents worry that the costs of monitoring licensed establishments will be high. We suggest that to achieve a definitive answer to this repeat question, something more may be required of the selectmen and the voters.
We think the clarity that supporters and opponents seek might be attainable, but some changes to the warrant article as it now exists are necessary. Supporters and opponents of beer and wine might find a common understanding if an amendment to the current article established guidelines for the selectmen, who will craft the future rules for licensees. Establishing guides, within which the selectmen must do their rule making, will eliminate some basis for worry. It will assist the selectmen, by signaling what it is the town expects of them. Clarity on how the rules will be written, what the rules will be, and how they will be enforced will help decide the beer and wine question conclusively. u
Mike Colaneri and Tara Whiting
Mike Colaneri deserves reelection to the West Tisbury board of assessors, though one would be justified in wondering why he chooses to offer his services once more. Mr. Colaneri is a long-time assessor, whose experience, thoughtfulness, understanding of the difficult practice of assessing, and fair-minded approach to the work are exemplary. In recent years, he and his colleagues have been criticized in the nastiest terms, but Mr. Colaneri's record, tested in the most rigorous and extensive inquiries, has withstood this self-interested, mean-spirited carping. Mr. Colaneri is an accomplished assessor. Voters will do themselves a good service to return him to office.
West Tisbury and Whitings have a long, lively, and distinguished relationship. Tara Whiting, candidate for town clerk, will extend this mutually beneficial and like-minded connection. Ms. Whiting is a devoted West Tisbury-ite, and she is perfectly equipped for the town clerk's job. Her good nature, efficiency, directness, and generally apolitical approach to town affairs are the essential qualities a town clerk must have. And, should the town approve a change to an appointed clerk, voters and town officials will have a chance to evaluate their newest clerk in the heat of battle. u
Greg Coogan and Herbert Combra
We favor incumbent selectman Greg Coogan, for reelection. Mr. Coogan is a critically important force on the five-member Oak Bluffs board of selectmen. He is a counterweight to the more voluble and volatile members. His understanding of the issues builds upon a deep familiarity with his town and an unquestioned devotion to serving as selectman in their interest.
We urge Oak Bluffs voters to choose Herbert Combra to take the seat that long-time selectman Roger Wey will vacate this spring. Mr. Combra has held a selectman's seat before, with considerable success. His long tenure as head of the town highway department has been marked by the efficient and dependable use of Oak Bluffs resources and by clearly successful personnel management within his department. Adding Mr. Combra to the Oak Bluffs board will help to weight the board in favor of good sense, economy, and efficiency.