Letters to the Editor
There's always one
To the Editor:
Archie Robertson, shepherd at the Kingsbury Farm, Vineyard Haven, has been coaching the small flock of sheep to welcome the Obamas later this month.
So far, Fluffy Left-Spot, Skunky, Scallop, E.T., Inky, Okapi, Bearface, Lizzie Sweepea, Holly, Mocha, Boo and Beaner have all learned to say, "O-BAAAH-ma."
The only holdout is Raisinette, who still bleats with a loud BAAAAH. We think he's a Republican.
Kristen Kingsbury Henshaw
Vineyard Haven and Wakefield
To the Editor:
I read with interest the August 6 shark and seal article by Nelson Sigelman ("Shark tourney fishermen save seal from Jaws"). It appeared to be slanted at making the Humane Society of the United States look bad and the shark tournament look like good guys.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
There is no doubt that the crew of the vessel Stormy Weather did the right thing when the exhausted young gray seal used the boat's swim platform as its refuge from the sharks; but that doesn't make the shark tournament the good guys when the tournament continues to support indiscriminate killing of sharks.
Plovers and people
To the Editor:
Eastville Beach has just put up very nice fences, but limited space for Islanders and visitors to enjoy this fine beach. This is ostensibly to give even more room for the famous plovers. We are called to be good stewards of our resources, but cutting the beachfront in half serves no rhyme or reason. Can someone explain who dreams these things up.
Meanwhile, the garbage just keeps piling up at the entrance. No garbage cans, no signs to carry out, just one big mess. Seems paradoxical - lots of unattended garbage but let's give more room for the plovers (who have a very short nesting period) because they are more important than humans.
End of life counseling needed
To the Editor:
A plan to provide hospice counseling and other end-of-life advice to patients and their families that is being dropped by U.S. Senate health care negotiators is a mistake.
Opponents believe the language would lead to the development of federal "death panels."
I participated in a very private family "death panel" with my two other brothers and sisters concerning end-of-life issues for our mother, who was in the final stages of terminal cancer.
The counseling we received prompted each of us to get his/her living will drawn up and not put our families in a similar situation. Each living will clearly explains to each family, physician, lawyer, clergyman, medical facility or any individual who may become responsible for our health welfare or affairs what each of us wants done if there is no reasonable expectations for our recovery from physical or mental disability. We did not get billed for this counseling, so we assume it was paid for by insurance, and Medicare should not be the exception.
Time for health care change
To the Editor:
Just because the country voted for change in the last election, doesn't mean people aren't terrified of change, almost any change.
Imagine if there were no public libraries, and our government proposed requiring every town and city in the country to use tax dollars to open a free public library, where all books, magazines, newspapers, audio and video materials were available at no charge to every person.
Would Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon and every other book seller unite to wage a media campaign against such an idea? Would they fear being put out of business? Would they scream bloody murder at the idea of having to pay taxes, part of which was used to fund free access to the very products they are selling? It is just lucky for us that the public libraries came first, or I suspect they would be screamed down.
The point is, having options does not threaten businesses that know how to cater to their customer's needs. Amazon stays in business because it satisfies a need. Local bookstores stay in business for the same reason, but a different need. They don't fear the public libraries. Does UPS fear the Post Office? I don't think so. No well run business fears competition. Competition is what makes everyone better, keeps us on our toes, makes us prove our worth. Let's give the health insurance companies a chance to prove they can do things better. If they are any good, they have nothing to fear.
Public health insurance options have to be made available to those people who have no other options, including those whose needs are not met by current options. Having new health insurance options will not put the existing ones out of business, if they know how to run a business, that is, if they know how to satisfy their customers, which is a lot more than just knowing how to make a profit.
And to those who say we can't afford it, I have another question: Why is there always money for war? If the billions spent on war during the last administration had gone to health care, we would have a lot more healthy people and a lot fewer maimed and dead ones. It is time for a change.
Terrific. Too expensive
To the Editor:
I recently had some sort of stomach virus. I went to the doctor at our hospital. I had my blood pressure taken, a shot for nausea, a few abdominal x-rays, blood drawn for testing, and a prescription for stomach settling pills. This decision to go to the doctor for this one outpatient visit cost me $2,353.
I work as a janitor/night watchman and take home $478 a week. The $2,353 bill divided by 478 = 4.92 weeks of labor and income for the one doctor's visit. Of course, I am grateful to the MV Hospital - they are terrific people. But this is an unsustainable ratio for me, and next time I am in similar circumstances I plan on not seeking medical assistance.
This country needs socialized medicine. When I lived in England, I had no more money taken out of my paycheck than here. I carried a National Health card. I went to the doctor, and there was zero cost. I was never refused treatment or had to wait. An English friend had two babies and the cost was zero. My English uncle had an emergency colon cancer removal and colostomy bag installed, at a total cost to him of zero. Another friend over there was hit by a car while riding his bicycle and was unconscious for two days in ICU and then was in hospital for six weeks - total cost zero. How much would this incident have cost him in the U.S., $40-$80,000 dollars? That would have been instant bankruptcy and financial ruin for him.
Again, no more money was taken out of my paycheck over there every month than I have taken out here.
When I tell my British friends that we don't have a national health service, they look puzzled and sympathetic. They wonder why not - they would not go back to the days before 1948 for anything.
Corporate control of government policies for private gain is the number one problem in this country. I predict very little change will occur in our sick health care system because of this.
To the Editor:
Slow down, you're on Martha's Vineyard. What happened to our old slogan? The majority of our vehicle traffic on our Island in the summer months are families on vacation. I emphasize families. They aren't dads running off to work, moms rushing children to school or to day care so they can also be on time at their place of employment.
Martha's Vineyard has the beaches and a vast number of activities Island-wide. If you are late getting to the beach, no one is going to dock your pay check. If you are late for an activity, big brother is not waiting to reprimand you.
It just amazes me as I watch vehicles fly by my home on the private dirt road, racing to get their own children to The FARM Institute for a day of fun-filled activities. The FARM Institute holds outdoor activities for our wee ones. It is such a thrill to see the children trying to catch a butterfly or to hear them screech when they find an earth worm or hold a baby chick. While doing such activities, they are totally oblivious to vehicle traffic dropping off fellow playmates that will also enjoy time exploring.
The FARM Institute has put down speed control bumps; neighbors have made speed limit signs, five miles per hour. They have also purchased "Slow Children Playing" signs. We have shoveled out speed dips in the sand road. I have personally stood at the roadside asking drivers to reduce their speed due to our wee ones exploring. I am advocating for all the children, including the drivers' own that are in the back seats as they fly over the speed dips. I have solicited several organizations for suggestions on how to control the speeding problem. As of date I have not received any suggestions.
My comment to all those complaining about the speed dips, "Slow Down, you will not damage your vehicle if you slowly roll over the speed dips; the neighbors are trying to save the life of a child. We all need to be reminded our Island is a family oriented Island; families are walking, biking, and exploring.
Slow down, you're on Martha's Vineyard.
To the Editor:
As a cyclist who travels thousands of miles a year on Island roads, I feel blessed that David Berlow is watching out for me (Letters to the Editor 8/6). He is a saint, a guardian angel righteously pointing the way to "safety," his car horn a 110-decibel klaxon of caution in the ears of cyclists he doesn't want to startle.
As lucky as I feel to have his guidance, I would feel slightly more at ease if he knew what he was talking about, even a little bit.
First, this may come as a shock, but when he's driving 3,000 pounds of steel and plastic powered by explosions, cyclists can hear him coming without the horn. Even if they're wearing earbuds (few do; I don't), and even if the car in question is one of those ninjas of the roadways, a hybrid.
Second, he asserts that most bike traffic on the roads is recreational and therefore not helpful to the environment. Perhaps he doesn't understand that recreation is the biggest industry on the Island, and if cyclists weren't out on their bikes they'd likely be out in their cars. As for me, I do my recreational cycling on my daily commute to and from my home in Edgartown to my job in Aquinnah. So, on that point, Mr. Berlow is again talking through his blaze-orange hard hat.
Third, perhaps Mr. Berlow may have never been on one of the sub-standard, poorly maintained, and crowded bike paths, but they are not exactly havens of safety.
Last, Mr. Berlow chides Bill Veno for his laughable "ignorance" of road conditions. Bill Veno is a cyclist, and has studied traffic safety professionally. He also confers monthly with the Island's safety conscious cyclists at meetings of the bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee, meetings at which I've never seen Mr. Berlow, despite his keen interest in the subject of cycling safety.
I also find it odd that Mr. Berlow seems to blame cyclists, rather than the distracted, dangerous, or drunk drivers who threaten them. I would dearly love to see a letter from him on that subject.
Many cyclists are guilty of foolish behavior (riding against traffic, no helmet, etc.), but riding in the road is not part of the problem, and a car horn and a rude gesture are not good educational tools.
So when Mr. Berlow encounters his next road-riding cyclist, he should do as follows: 1) give the cyclist ample room as mandated by law, 2) stow his car horn someplace warm and dark, and 3) point his finger at nobody's business but his own.
In addition, I would also caution Mr. Berlow against bloviating in a public forum on subjects about which he has zero knowledge.
Time to quit, Mr. President
To the Editor:
I hope President Obama's vacation on Martha's Vineyard is the best and most memorable he's ever had. With all the complex issues, from the economy, jobs and health care, I hope he has time to relax and enjoy his family.
I hope too that he uses this vacation as a benchmark, marking the date that he finally gave up smoking and know this one thing he doesn't have to do for the American people, but it would be great if he could do it for his two little angels and his beautiful wife. So that those he loves the most will not have to smell that nasty odor of nicotine any more on his hair and on his clothing. Of course, not without saying, the fear that his daughters must have that his health and well-being could dwindle or even be disrupted due to this addictive and debilitating habit. Because, as we all know, our health, more often than not, is our own responsibility.
Therefore, please let Martha's Vineyard and this vacation be the place and time that he makes a lifestyle choice for himself, of course, and for those who love him the most. (I am a reformed smoker.)
To the Editor:
I was watching the news, and it was a story about Michael Vick's inevitable return to the NFL and a lot of speculation that he might end up in New England. To say the least, I was sickened. I got no beef with him. He did his time for his bad life choices. Good enough. I do know that whoever guides the Pats to their next championship will be seen as a hero, and I don't feel his resume entitles him to such. I love Charles Barkley because of his I-am-no-hero speech, and he is right. The heroes are Kevin Devine, Jared Meader and every other father, son, sister or brother and loved one who has given and or sacrificed his life to serve the armed forces at the behest of our president, and the next time he wants to have a couple of guys to the White House for beers, feel free to use my list as a starter for invites.
The true American heroes are the ones who make it safe for me to sit on my couch, eat chips, and drink beer all day on Sundays and watch my beloved Pats smash whatever team Mr. Vick plays for.
Cost of change
To the Editor:
My wife and I recently returned from our annual vacation in Vineyard Haven, an experience we have enjoyed over 30 years. It was great to attend the grand re-opening of the Bunch of Grapes, which we saw burn last summer. The new hospital, too, is very impressive. We were also glad to see that Café Moxie is rebuilding and look forward to its re-opening. There was a new development in the town that we could not understand, however, and that was the appearance of signs advocating the sale of beer and wine in Vineyard Haven. I guess our basic question is why?
The answer can't be that diners are demanding it. We have never lacked for the opportunity to have a drink when we ate out. In fact, the BYOB option gave us greater choice at lower cost; I can't see consumers protesting for the chance to pay more.
Is this repeal of the beer and wine prohibition necessary to save the restaurants of Vineyard Haven from bankruptcy? We have not over the years seen evidence that a BYOB policy has kept customers away from their restaurants. The very fact that a town restaurant is investing a great deal of money to rebuild - after the voters had turned down repeal - suggests to me that businesses can and do make a reasonable profit without selling beer or wine.
Some say repeal will bring new business to the town. I agree, but who are the new customers who are drawn to a place because it sells beer? The kids for whom beer is a chief attraction are not going to be visiting the shops and galleries in town. Judging by police reports from Oak Bluffs, these new consumers will be more acquainted with the town law enforcement personnel.
In the movie, "Field of Dreams," the hero is told, "If you build it, they will come." In this case we might say, "If you change it, they will come." But when they do come it may be a dream come true for the businesses selling the beer, but a potential nightmare for the rest of the community that will have to deal with the consequences.
As one who had his own business for many years and worked hard to increase revenues and profits, I am sympathetic to the individual entrepreneur. However, the accountant tallies both profits and losses. And with repeal of the prohibition, it seems to me there is great opportunity for a few to profit while the majority of the town will suffer the consequences. There is something wrong with that equation.
At the beginning of this letter, I said that I was a vacation visitor to Vineyard Haven. I do not pay taxes for the benefits I enjoy in the town. Some people may tell me the issue is none of my business. Perhaps they are right, I don't know.
What I do know is that the people of Vineyard Haven enjoy a unique quality of life. In our travels, we have not found its equal. What is at stake now is the continuation of this quality of life. Repeal is a game changer and what will be changed, the quality of life of the community, may well mean an irrevocable loss. Yes, a few people will get richer, but the community will be the poorer after repeal.
Our country is living through a serious economic crisis brought about to a large extent by the actions of a few whose greed blinded them to the consequences for others. Profit was all. In Vineyard Haven, it seems to me that repeal is motivated by the desire of a few to increase their profits, an increase in wealth that will be paid for in the losses that the rest of the community will suffer.
Port Washington, N.Y.
Time for a bike path solution
To the Editor:
It is unclear to me why Chappaquiddick, which is a neighborhood of Edgartown, should be asked to come to a consensus on our own. I question the notion that because the Chappy people are independent and self-sufficient that we should be capable of arriving at such a consensus. This is an issue that has divided people for more than 30 years, and I think both sides would agree that mediation is unlikely to bring about consensus.
Paying town taxes and electing town officials makes Chappy as much a part of Edgartown as any other neighborhood, and it seemed logical for the Chappy path committee to enlist the town's infrastructure to help move this issue into the public domain and follow an established political process.
There is misinformation that I feel must be corrected. First, our committee was formed in July of 2008, not in September of 2008. We sent out a brief email survey to approximately 380 people on August 13, 2008. The goal of this survey was to gauge whether there was enough community support for our committee to continue working toward our goal. We opted for an email survey as opposed to a summer meeting because we believed we would get a higher response rate (since not everybody is here at the same time). Seventy percent of more than 200 respondents favored the concept of a bicycling/walking path, and this seemed like more than enough to move forward. All of this occurred in the summer of 2008, not in the fall.
In the fall of 2008, the plan taken to town officials was actually an application to the Community Preservation Act Committee. The proposal requested funds for an engineering design study of a mixed-use pedestrian/bicycle path and for construction of a demonstration section of the path on the Gardner property. Faced with a litany of reasons why it was impossible to put a path on Chappy (telephone poles, wetlands, etc.), we believed that having a current survey of the road would give us an accurate picture of the road and enable us to discuss what was and was not possible. The rationale behind applying for funds for the demonstration path was to show people that there is a way to make a path fit in with the rural character of the Island. We agree with our opponents that it would be nice to avoid adding more paved surfaces if possible and have supported the idea of a hard packed surface.
As for the computer survey, I am curious as to when this was sent out and what the questions were. My name is on a list of people in favor, but I don't recall filling out a survey or submitting my name to the website. When scanning the lists (against and in favor) I notice that there are duplicate names on the against side, as well as numerous people (some from our committee) missing from the in favor side.
The bottom line is that it is challenging to get accurate survey results, and this is all the more reason to bring the issue before the town for a fair and public vote.
With regard to the debate over two-way paths vs. bike lanes, I cannot cite the statistics nor quote from the reports.
Our committee made a conscientious and wholehearted attempt at demonstrating how a multi-use path could be designed on Chappy. Less pavement and maintaining the rural character of the island (concerns of our opponents), as well as separating cars from bikers/walkers were main factors in opting for a two-way path along one side of the road. However, we are not the experts and this may not be the only solution. We would be more than happy to enlist the support of experts to design a smart solution that enables bikers, walkers and automobile drivers to travel safely from the ferry to East Beach. The current situation is unsafe, and it is only a matter of time before there is an accident. The problem has clearly been identified, evaluated and it is time for a solution.
Chappy Path Committee Steering Committee
To the Editor:
The board of the Island Affordable Housing Fund thanks the sheriff's department and probation department for their help for our Rock the Rock Concert. They provided manpower to lay 12,000 square feet of event flooring for our dance floor. Then they came back the morning after our event and helped pull it all up and pack it away. We could not have done it without their help.
We are grateful for the help from Michael McCormack, Kevin Cunniff, Brian Kennedy, and Nate Durawa, who not only supplied us with the men but also got down and helped alongside everyone else.
With much appreciation.
To the Editor:
This summer, a five-week English language learners' summer school, for Martha's Vineyard Public School MVPS) students for whom English is a second language, was held at the Tisbury School. Sixteen ELL students from grades 1 - 7 in five Island schools attended. A highlight of their program was their weekly visits to the Vineyard Haven Public Library, where they participated in a summer reading program, under the direction of children's librarian Kathy Stinson. Students had the opportunity to learn about the library; take out library cards; pick out, read, and share books as well as to enjoy group read-aloud sessions. By the second week of August, every one of them was enthusiastic about the experience and excited about what they had read. All had plans to continue reading.
Thank you to Ms. Stinson and the Vineyard Haven Public Library for providing this invaluable service. Reading is a necessity in our world and opens the door to learning in so many ways. Love of reading is an incredible gift to offer to any child, and to these students who are learning everything in a second language, the ability to read in English is the key.
To the Editor:
I wanted to let you know what a great success the Friends of the West Tisbury Booksale was this year. It was our best sale ever, raising over $21,000. Thanks to the indefatigable team of Lee Revere and Diana Manter and all of the great volunteers who gave so generously of their time and everyone who gave us books and bought books. Thank you so much.
Director and Trustees
West Tisbury Public Library
Remember "Truly Emily"
To the Editor:
In February, I was invited to speak at the Federated Parish Church hall.
After my speech several people were talking to me when one lady asked if she could borrow my book entitled "Truly Emily", as she wanted to copy about Emily's garden and would return it.
Foolishly I did not get her name and she hasn't returned my book, which is one of my treasures. I hope this letter will jog her memory and she will return it to me.
Yvonne E. Sylvia
Tax summer rentals
To the Editor:
After 30 years of the Martha's Vineyard Commission's expensive, job-killing, anti-American free market ideology and downright infantile meddling with projects best left to oversight by individual towns, the only serious issue that they could and should have addressed, as the regional planning czars, continues unabated.
Island residents cannot compete financially in a housing market when housing cost is based on the profitability of vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods. If the state and local governments properly and legally assessed the transient rental business as commercial use, as defined in Mass. General Laws, Chapter 59 section 2a, and we collected a 10 percent rooms tax on all rentals of less than 90 days, the residents' property tax could be cut in half and we probably could eliminate the CPA tax and the increase to the state sales tax. Tourists renting for $2,000, $10,000, $25,000, or even the Obamas' $50,000 per week do not pay rooms tax, avoid meals tax, and the owners of these accommodations do not even pay commercial valued property tax as required by MGL, Chapter 59, section 2a.
The fact that the weekly rental, undoubtedly the largest part of the tourist accommodation business on the Cape and Islands, generates no taxes to pay for the cost of infrastructure demands created by the tourist industry is more absurd than ever when you look at our current economic situation. Instead we put an equal property tax burden on the elderly, the working class, and the young people needed for a sustainable year-round economy. Consider that $5,000, or 10 percent of a $50,000 one-week rental, equals the annual property tax of two basic residential homes. Do you care if the property owner gets only $45,000, or the rental goes up to $55,000 for the week?
I am sure neither party will suffer a loss of food on the table. Of course the realtor gets 10 percent of the action for doing the paper work while those residents who are not beneficiaries of the tourist industry face ever-increasing taxes to pay the bills for the tourist industries' infrastructure and the housing problem it creates. Go figure.
It is about time the cause of the inflated value of resident housing and over development, with its costs and environmental issues, helped pay to correct the unsustainable situation it has created. It is time to demand real change lest we leave a legacy of "land of the rich, home of the fool."
Tax rentals, not residents.
Donald N. Muckerheide
No on nationalized health care
To the Editor:
The following letter was sent to Rep. William Delahunt:
We have the best health care system in the world. People travel from all parts of the globe to receive the health care that most Americans have to come to expect.
We agree that we must find ways to expand access to affordable health care to all Americans. But we must do it in a way that protects the health care of the vast majority of Americans, like ourselves, who are happy with their health insurance and want to keep their doctors.
We believe that we can expand access to health care to the uninsured by empowering people - and helping them become prudent purchasers of health care - by using health savings accounts, tax credits, and vouchers. Government controlled health care will lead to long waiting lines, substandard care, and to the slowing of medical discovery.
We implore you, if ever in your career you would choose to be impartial and not go the party line, let this be the time. Although we strongly disagree with the direction Mr. Obama is taking our great country with the endorsement and assistance of his party, we're convinced his nationalizing of health care will be the final nail in the coffin and bankrupt America.
Please stop passing legislation you haven't read nor fully understand. But our real question is why are you and your fellow legislators exempt? Why are unions exempt? Why are federal employees exempt? Continued hypocrisy. If this plan is so great, then put everyone on it, and we may begin to consider it seriously.
Jeffrey C. Wooden
Janice R. Wooden
To the Editor:
It is with a heavy heart that, after 13 years of providing post-mastectomy and lumpectomy products to Island women, I must close my doors this September. Throughout the years I have been in business I have maintained my professional credentials as a certified and accredited mastectomy fitter (CFm), and my status as a Medicare, and other insurances, provider.
A statutory requirement implemented by Medicare now mandates that not only must I personally be accredited and certified for the purposes of maintaining the highest professional standards and for Medicare billing, but now my facility must also be accredited. The costs associated with this additional accreditation, which have been set by a private, non-government accreditation organization, amount to much more than the remuneration for the goods and services I provide to a few, dear, Island women. Many of these cancer patients and survivors find mainland travel for these essential products difficult and costly.
I understand that the purpose of this legislation is to address problems with supplier standards industry-wide. Unfortunately, for someone like me, with a small, home-based business helping a few women each year, the associated costs will be far greater than the income. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I have always viewed this endeavor as a labor of love and a community service, not a profit-making enterprise.
I have attempted to appeal to our Senators, Kennedy and Kerry, with no success. Even a Medicare regional administrator tried to find a way to help. But there appears to be no way around the bureaucracy. There is no accommodation or flexibility for a rural, small-scale provider in a generally underserved locale.
In a time when we as a society are closely examining health care and seeking ways to expand its availability, it is unfortunate that a valuable service such as mine will be forced to close due to an overlay of newly mandated compliance costs, which in no way contribute to the quality of my patient care.
Silver Rose designs
Swimming with the fishes
One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is snorkel around Menemsha Pond off Red Sand Beach and observe the underwater environment. I often dig up quahogs, whack a couple together, and feed the fish. Sometimes it's a bunch of silversides, and one day recently it was a school of snapper blues.
While feeding the snappers, about a 20-pound bass swam within six feet of me and gave me a startle. I was thrilled to see such a large bass and didn't expect to see him again. They are usually very shy. I quickly found another quahog, cracked it open and scattered the meat about in small pieces. A half dozen snappers dashed about, and the striper appeared and I saw him snatch some meat.
I was in five feet of water, and within 15 minutes the bass was swimming directly underneath me eating quahogs. An hour later this fish was eating from my hand, and I reached out and touched it. At one point the bass accidently brushed against my leg.
I was so fascinated by all this that I found myself staying in the water for two hours, one and a half hours just feeding the bass. Eventually the bass had enough, and I saw him swim off a lot fatter. I swam back to shore rather cold.
I went back again with high expectations but saw only a few snapper blues. This snorkeling experience with the bass was absolutely amazing.