Letters to the Editor
Keep the winter fast ferry
To the Editor:
One of the few winter escape routes from the Island is about to be closed, with little or no public debate. In September, the Steamship Authority will vote on a request by New England Fast Ferry (NEFF) to cancel its New Bedford service from December through March. This will require altering the Steamship Authority's original agreement with NEFF, which called for providing year-round service to the island through 2011.
The NEFF says the change is needed because it is losing money due to low winter ridership. The economy is one cause for this, but another is NEFF's failure to advertise the benefits of year-round service to and from New Bedford.
Many Islanders are unaware that they are entitled to discounted tickets on the fast ferry, or that Town Car Travel provides reasonably priced rides of about 35 minutes between the New Bedford ferry dock and the Providence train station and airport. In other words, you can read or nap for 90 minutes while being transported from the Island to Providence, rather than spend more money and an extra hour ferrying your car to Woods Hole, then driving and parking.
I used this swift and reliable ferry/car-service combo to commute to a winter job in Providence, and often used it to catch cheap flights on Southwest at T.F. Green rather than battle in and out of Logan.
NEFF has also failed to think creatively about boosting ridership, for instance by reaching out to schools, businesses, and institutions such as the New Bedford Whaling Museum that are within walking distance of the ferry. If just one grade at Tisbury School rode the fast ferry to the museum, ridership for that day would increase fivefold over its winter average.
In short, New England Fast Ferry prefers to cash in on its busy summer trade and let the winter service it agreed to die of neglect. If you believe this shouldn't happen, contact the Steamship Authority at 508-548-5011 or email general manager Wayne Lamson at email@example.com before the board meets on September 15.
Eastville Beach report
To the Editor:
This is in response to a letter from Andrew Engelman in last week's edition of The Times. The Eastville Point Beach Committee formed close to two years ago to try to deal with the deteriorated conditions at Eastville Point Beach (EPB). With volunteer labor, we made some improvement but quickly realized that we needed funding. This past spring that came about thanks to the Community Preservation Act committees of both Oak Bluffs and Tisbury and the residents who voted for the funding.
Our plan was to clean up old fencing, dead vegetation and improve the parking areas. Our goal was to improve, not change. From previous activities at the beach, specifically the use of the beach as a disposal site for dredge spoils, bird habitat was created and for over a decade, many rare and endangered birds (protected under both state and federal law) have nested there. This places the area under the watch of the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program and requires that the monitoring of bird habitat be continued.
The EPB Committee, working along with Mass Audubon's Coastal Bird Program, is committed to doing what it can to protect endangered shorebirds. The fencing we put up replaces fencing that had previously been there. We removed bittersweet (an invasive species) and dead vegetation while installing the fence, and the end result may seem to suggest that we made considerable change when, in fact, we really returned things to the way they previously looked (although we hope a little better).
The parking lot improvements were finished just in time for the beach season, and some of the vegetation clean-up actually created a few more parking places. We have a bike rack there to further reduce traffic coming to the beach.
The front-facing beach now includes some fence posts which replace the metal posts that have been put up there every spring for years. That area of the beach contains more rocks, coarser sand, and low beach vegetation, which are conditions particularly attractive to nesting birds. Next spring, only rope will be put up just like every other year. There will be no rails put up with the fence posts. That area of the beach remains as accessible as it ever was to the beach-going public. If birds nest on that upper part of the beach, only that section will be restricted to people.
Trash and litter remain a serious problem at Eastville, as it does for many of our Island's beaches. Were it not for the annual spring beach clean-up and the weekly efforts of countless volunteers all over the Island, the situation would be much worse. At present, Eastville is a carry in/carry out beach. Signs to that effect have been placed on the kiosk at the entrance to the beach (also constructed and installed with volunteer help) but we can't force people to responsibly dispose of their trash. One carelessly thrown piece of trash seems to attract more, and it just amazes us all that so many people can be so disrespectful.
We have much more to do at Eastville and can always use more volunteers. We are looking at ways to permanently control the invasives at the beach as well as coming up with a long-term plan for its management. Anyone interested in helping with the care of Eastville Beach can contact the county of Dukes County for more information. Please stop by the beach and check out the information kiosk which contains much more information on the history of the beach and the many, many people who have contributed to restoring it.
Eastville Point Beach Committee
To the Editor:
On the 6:15 pm Steamship Authority ferry from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole August 26, I was returning from my first visit to Martha's Vineyard when I suddenly realized with a gut-wrenching feeling that my wedding ring was no longer on my finger.
The glow of the remarkable experiences I had just undergone - from participating on a health care panel sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Times, to visiting the new construction at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, enhanced by a couple of days cycling the entire bike trail system with my husband and hitting many other lovely sites by car - quickly evaporated. I felt incomplete and bereft at the loss of a very special and beautiful ring and all the memories it entailed. The ferry staff graciously made an announcement, we searched the obvious spots, but no ring emerged. I disembarked with deep regret for my obvious carelessness.
Checking in with the authority's lost and found the next day, I learned that - remarkably - a passenger on the 8:30 pm ferry found my ring and returned the following morning to turn it in.
I'll probably never know who you are - but your honesty and caring are truly remarkable. I hope to be in a situation someday to "pay it forward" and act in a like manner to help someone else.
In the interests of safety
To the Editor:
I admit I have not followed all the issues regarding cell phone coverage this year, but I have personally experienced two instances this summer where I attempted to make emergency calls to 911, up-Island, using my cell phone, only to discover no coverage. I can only assume there were many other emergency cell phone calls unsuccessfully attempted this summer. Anyone that is preventing cell phone coverage up-Island may soon, if not already, have someone's life to be responsible for. Anyone now sitting on a committee that is preventing cellular coverage could have a lifelong burden to contend with if someone's, maybe even a family member's, life were to be endangered due to their prevention of cellular service. Misguided conservation motives have their limits, and I sure hope they will not take a Vineyard life.
President must keep his promises
To the Editor:
I hope that the president and his family had a wonderful time on vacation here and got a well-deserved rest.
I am joining the large number of Americans who are exercising their Constitutional right to go on record as being against government management/ takeover of health care. It is obvious that the confusing bills, the fact that many members of Congress have not read any or all of the versions, the fact that it is written in bureaucratic language rather than English are some of my reasons. Efforts to push this through before Congress left in August appear to be an intentional attempt to avoid scrutiny of the details, especially the cost, and any open dialogue among the public and their representatives. Instead, I would like to suggest that the focus be placed on torte reform as a great first step.
For some reason Congress, the media and the president have forgotten the president's promise to bring our soldiers home. The number of deaths and injuries of our soldiers are greater than ever. This was one of the reasons for President Bush's low popularity and support. This may be one of the reasons for President Obama's plummeting support. Please get this back on track. Many of us are anticipating the president's follow through on this matter.
Philosophically, I hope we can agree to disagree regarding President Obama's overt government takeovers of our banks, our auto industry, now our health care and God only knows what is next. I want to believe that his intentions are honorable, though misguided. I don't know if this is really an attempt to create a socialist society, as some say. I do know, however, that this philosophy has been unhealthy. I don't like to think that my president is instigating divisiveness among the classes, different cultures, and ethnicities. President Obama is everyone's president , regardless of the color of our skin, our age, or the amount of money we have or have not earned.
I hope that the hope and change that the president described so eloquently when a candidate will translate into changes that I, along with millions of other citizens, can personally and wholeheartedly support.
GK Rowe, Ph.D.
More cautious spending needed
To the Editor:
It's amazing how much confusion there is about the cost of war and taxes and national health care expressed in this column recently. So let's get a few facts straight that can easily be confirmed by federalbudget.com, along with reports by the Cato Institute and the National Heritage Foundation, all easily found online.
One writer expressed dismay that the former administration spent so much on war that we would have all done better if President Bush had instead focused on health care. Actually, President Bush conceived and passed the single largest increase to national health care since 1965, when he introduced his plan for a $400 billion Medicare prescription drug plan. By comparison the war in Iraq cost roughly $100 billion per year. So it seems clear that his spending on health care was not inhibited by the war. When President Bush signed his bill in front of the cameras, standing at his right elbow smiling from ear to ear was our own Senator Ted Kennedy.
The federal deficit for the fiscal year ending September 30 is now estimated to be 1.58 trillion dollars. That's 1,580 billions of dollars for just this year that must be borrowed and added to the federal debt. With fewer than one third of a billion people living in this country, the deficit for just this one year will come to about $5,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. So a family of four will have $20,000 of debt spent for them by the federal government. Put another way, the Iraq war cost about $100 billion per year, so this year's federal deficit will be roughly equivalent to 15 years of war in Iraq. Clearly, the Iraq war had only a very small percentage impact on overall spending.
One gentleman who had lived in both the states and England wrote that the amount from his check taken for taxes was nearly the same in both countries and concluded that national health care in the UK could not have much of an impact on taxes, as taxes appeared to be equivalent. However, he was very, very wrong. In the UK and Europe, business taxes are far larger than here. Corporate taxes, taxes on labor and business property taxes must all be paid by business, and businesses can only get money from customers; working people pay their taxes when they buy anything. Regardless of whether they buy a pair of jeans or a gallon of gasoline, business taxes are paid by the consumer. The higher costs of gasoline and clothing, and most everything else in Europe can be directly attributed to embedded taxes.
If President Obama can pass a national health care program, he will probably try to keep his promise not to raise income taxes for families earning less than $250,000 by taxing the "rich corporations" who will pass their taxes along to us. The cost of a gallon of milk or a gallon of heating oil are both far more expensive in Europe and the UK and hit both the rich and poor alike.
One sales tax most Europeans pay is the value added tax, where every business that "adds value" to the product adds a tax and together it's typically about 17 percent added to the purchase price. Passing the tax burden through the corporations to the people as they do in Europe is one way President Obama could avoid higher income taxes.
The federal debt is now nearly $12 trillion, or about $145,000 for every four-person household in the country. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that if a comprehensive national health plan is approved that deficits will increase to the $2 trillion level per year with no end in sight, as interest on the national debt grows.
Look online to see what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has to say about the cost of health care and the federal budget. Don't trust me. Assess for yourself how much debt you want for yourself and your children. Under President Reagan the deficit grew, but the economy and the GDP grew faster than the deficit during the last five years of his administration. But now GDP is in recession and the debt is skyrocketing. The Soviet Union had national health care and then collapsed. Let's be sure the same thing doesn't happen to us.
Remember, the first baby boomers born in 1945 will be 65 years old and will qualify for Medicare beginning next year in 2010. Both Medicare and Social Security funding is now insufficient to avoid bankruptcy without more taxes and/or benefit cutbacks in both programs. The surplus from previous years in these programs has already been borrowed by the government. Perhaps we should be cautious spenders going forward.
Mark S. Alexander
A modest proposal
To the Editor:
As President Obama returns to work after his vacation, I wanted to pass on my thoughts on health care reform with the hopes that they may even be given due consideration by his administration and congress.
Any real reform to health care is going to require sufficient doctors to provide the care needed. As the baby boomers are only just starting to retire, I can assure you that there are not enough doctors or nurses.
According to "Inside Higher Ed" the cost to produce a graduate with a MD degree is a little over $250,000. Also, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average medical student graduated with $126,000 in debt (2007). The $250,000 takes into account the total money spent on MD degrees by both those that complete the degree and those that drop out. This is therefore the money that would need to be spent to reasonably assure one graduate in medicine.
My simple plan:
1) For the price of $250 billion we could be reasonably assured that we could add one million new doctors. As this amounts to one new doctor for every 300 people in America, it is easy to imagine the competition driving down costs as they compete for our business instead of telling us they can fit us in next month.
2) For an additional $50 billion, we could construct 10 new hospitals in every state at the cost of $100 million per hospital. Not only could these new hospitals house at least 10 percent of the new doctors with the advanced equipment they need to do their jobs, it would also be a major short-term boost to the construction industries across the country.
While I could go on with many other cost-cutting suggestions, such as tort reform and fraud reduction, I believe the above two-step process would do more than any other plan I have heard proposed and still cost less than half of each of the following: the stimulus plan, TARP, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.
So please, Mr. President, take this message back to Congress. We do not want any of the current plans proposed by Congress. We want simple, understandable, and affordable health care with as little government involvement as possible. In short, change we can believe in.
Persevere, Mr. President
To the Editor:
We all hope that the president and his family enjoyed the last days of August on our beautiful island.
While we are geographically unique, our need for affordable health care is the same as any rural town or big city in America.
In our state, Massachusetts health care is both a glass half full and a glass half empty. On the positive side, our state is on the vanguard of offering affordable options to those who qualify based on having lower incomes. This coverage has been a blessing for many who were either quietly going broke paying huge health insurance premiums, or for those who decided to play Russian roulette and take their chances on being uninsured. Many Vineyarders have received much-needed surgery and treatment only because of our state's progressive stance on health care. Aspects of our program could serve as a model for national consideration on how to create access to affordable health care for all Americans.
Where the glass can be viewed as half empty is in the bureaucracy of the health insurance industry. Depending on the urgency of each person's medical needs, the experience of interruptions in coverage, changing plans, limited provider networks, and lengthy preauthorization processes lies somewhere between a headache and a nightmare. For those of us who witness the toll taken on families and our work force, we think that a successful health care access program will mean that:
No longer will there be an instance of referrals to a specialist - recommended by your primary care doctor - that only incur a huge bill for services because the specialist is out of network.
Your pharmacist does not have to be the one to tell you that the coverage you thought you had for necessary medications has been cancelled.
Being a few hundred or a few thousand dollars over a $32,000 annual income does not force someone into the unenviable situation of choosing to be taxed for being uninsured or finding a way to pay over $1,200 a month for a family's insurance premium or $700 a month for an individual policy.
While these choices are being made daily, our country is in the throes of debating the specifics of various proposals, all of which - we hope - have the important goals of expanding coverage, improving quality, and lowering costs. While special interest groups jockey to protect their industries, those of us on the front line see the need for affordable coverage growing day by day. Perhaps here in a smaller community it feels much more personal because we know each other so well. You'd be hard pressed to find an Islander who has not attended a potluck dinner to help pay a neighbor's health care bill. We all know someone who has not been able to afford a doctor's visit in 10 years or more. And our beautiful, caring community has lost friends and neighbors because the family home was sold to move off-Island for affordable health care.
Many may assume that Islanders don't need the help, or that "everyone in Massachusetts already has health insurance." But nearly three years into the Massachusetts health reform programs, we have just begun to scratch the surface. There is a tremendous need for public health insurance outreach, enrollment, and re-enrollment assistance. As with health care reform in Massachusetts in 2006, the Vineyard Health Care Access Program will remain in place as a critical access point for Island residents when a new health care program is introduced.
We will continue to explain and interpret the different requirements of the established and new programs, help to process applications and related paperwork, and to navigate the multiple systems needed to reach the end goal of coverage. Our service is effective because it is offered face-to-face, in our own community, and we know the systems and have substantial knowledge about the many state and federal public health insurance programs. That's why the Vineyard Health Care Access Program exists. We provide health insurance enrollment assistance, case management to enroll individuals so that they retain their health insurance benefits and can access our own services, designed to fill in the gaps of government programs, like emergency prescription assistance and dental care for children and seniors. We provide these services to 2,500 Islanders every year.
It is our hope that national health care reform legislation will pass, policies to enact the new laws will be developed, and programs will be implemented. With the president's perseverance and success, the Vineyard Health Care Access Program will continue to be here to welcome our neighbors and to help them access their options for affordable coverage. And when problems arise - as they inevitably will - we will work to resolve them and make sure their coverage - based on their eligibility and, potentially, some new choices - is in place.
Vineyard Health Care Access Program
To the Editor:
The recent encounter with the police of our Vineyard summer resident, Henry Louis Gates, brought back the memory of an experience my father had many years ago.
Late one night in 1939, my father was walking home to his apartment in a neighborhood bordering downtown Dallas. He was stopped by the police and asked to identify himself.
He told them he would certainly not give them his name and informed them that under the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution American police have no authority to accost inoffensive pedestrians and demand their identity.
The police recognized that my father was not an illiterate redneck, or some other specimen of Southern white trash lumpenproletariat, so they merely arrested him and took him down to the jailhouse.
There he was visited by someone from the district attorney's office who, in a friendly conversation, advised him that whatever might be the correct interpretation of the Constitution, it would be sensible to just tell the police who he was. So he did and was released and went home.
When he asked on what charge he had been arrested, the answer was: "Suspicion of burglary."
Of course my father was arrested for the same offense for which Professor Gates was arrested - failure to show proper deference to a police officer.
Suppose a black man had been stopped by the police that night in1939, and suppose he had had the audacity to behave as my father did. What would have happened to him?
He would have ended up in an intensive care unit.
If he was lucky.
Hurrah to the 'grandmas'
To the Editor:
Many thanks to all you "grandmas" who overwhelmingly said yes and agreed to send President Obama a plea to insist on "a public option" for health care reform. That is essential if we are to have a more affordable and universal heath care system for all Americans.
Not only did you pick up the telephone to ask other "grandmas" to add their names, but you helped with your checks so we could afford the Martha's Vineyard Times page. In three days, we made it happen. We hope our president read our plea, and we hope he will stand firm. It would be such a great way to say thank you for Senator Ted Kennedy's life if his Congressional colleagues would pass the kind of health care bill that Senator Kennedy worked to achieve for the nation.
Hurrah to you all, and thanks.
Keep it up
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Peace Council has composed this open letter to President Obama.
We hope you and your family found peace and renewal here.
We Vineyarders have a long tradition of respecting the privacy of our visitors. We also feel our responsibility to guide and support our elected leaders.
As you well know, the previous administration's policies were dishonest and unsuccessful. They ignored climate change, damaged our international standing, wrecked our economy, fostered prejudice and fear, and caused the needless death and suffering of Americans, Iraqis, and Afghans.
We thank you for your efforts to discard these failed policies.
War is not the answer. Invasions, occupations, and bloated military budgets are not a sane way of life. You have begun to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. We urge you to bring them home from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.
You have begun to re-direct money from destructive military waste to creative domestic and international programs. We urge you to accelerate this.
We remain optimistic that you have the wisdom, ethics, and competence to promote peaceful solutions. Have courage. We support you in this.
Alden Besse and Sarah Nevin
Martha's Vineyard Peace Council
To the Editor,
I would like to bring these concerns to the attention of President Obama, after his peaceful vacation here on the beautiful, special Island of Martha's Vineyard.
I am a 54-year-old woman battling a rare form of leukemia called essential thrombocythemia. My bone marrow produces three times the white blood cell platelets that are needed, risking stroke or hemorrhage. I attribute my disease to a number of factors, with mercury dental amalgams the top of the list. Other factors being environmental toxins.
Regarding the use of the highly toxic heavy metal mercury in dental amalgams, I worry greatly about the health and future of my grandchildren.
I am healing myself with alternative therapies the bountiful earth supplies, without the use of the synthetic prescription medications my doctor prescribed. I use herbs and supplements, sadly not covered by insurance companies. I eat an all organic vegan raw diet and do yoga and walk keeping my spirit with the one of all goodness.
I am hopeful, as I see more corporate companies going green and using people and earth friendly ingredients in their products, and organic farming and organic products are more available. But more needs to be done. The use of mercury in dental amalgams, and the use of carcinogenic chemicals in body products, and genetically modifying seeds should not be allowed.
Maybe an administration that would regulate the use of these toxic metals and chemicals that cause cancer and harm the earth could be formed. This would create jobs and allow the American public to know what they purchase is safe for their use and safe for the earth. My hope is that these critical issues be addressed. Thank you.
If people were healthy there would be no health care crisis.
To the Editor:
To become a dictator, first, get elected by promising everyone everything. Most people do not question. Make lots of promises, but always avoid details. Promise the poor the most, because they are a huge voting block, but after you get elected, you can do what you want. You will dump the poor like every other leader has done.
Second, as president, begin to consolidate your power. Begin with the banks. Most people are addicted to their credit cards, cell phones and Internet, so keeping track of personal information through the banking system will be simple.
Third, continue to consolidate. The more you have control over businesses and industry, the easier it is to control the money flow. Control is the key. Put your fingers into every "pie" you can. Tell the people, whom you now regard as little children, that you are doing these things for their own good. They will continue to believe you - for now.
Fourth, create you own personal "army." By now the people are beginning to see that you have no intentions of keeping your campaign promises. The people see things deteriorating, and they are beginning to get antsy. Your own personal army will be the ears and eyes in every community and report back to you. Give your army a nice sounding name to fool the people, and give them pretty tee-shirts to wear. Do an advertising blitz of smiling young faces helping old people across the street, but in reality, your army will go into the schools to ask the children what their parents talk about.
Fifth, control the media. Most TV and radio licenses are controlled and issued by the government, so make it clear to all of them that dissension will not be tolerated. Controlling and manipulating the flow of information is crucial. Say anything against the government, and we will take your license away from you and give it to someone who will be obedient. By now, your personal army will be enforcing your law. They will no longer be wearing pretty tee-shirts, but uniforms and carrying guns. Dissent will be silenced out of fear. Show lots of soap operas and cartoons on TV instead.
Simple to do. I have seen this pattern over and over down here. The people wake up one morning and their freedoms are gone. The biggest weapon against losing your freedoms are freedom of the press and you, average citizen, using your mouth and your pen to voice your opinions and to ask questions. Edmund Burke said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Do not let anyone intimidate or threaten you.
For nonprofits, challenges remain
To the Editor:
It's been a remarkable summer. In early July, this paper ran an article about the impact of the recession on Vineyard charitable organizations. It featured the results of a survey we, the Martha's Vineyard Donors Collaborative, conducted that showed 56 percent of Vineyard nonprofits experienced a decrease in contributions during the winter and 20 percent saw them decrease greatly. For Island health and human services agencies, which saw big increases in demand for services, the story was worse: 64 percent saw a decrease in contributions, 43 percent saw them decrease greatly, and 50 percent expected to operate at a deficit this year, depleting reserves that weren't very large to begin with. The study found that most nonprofits expected things to get much worse, and that the summer fundraising event season could make or break them.
Summer is now drawing to a close and the event season winding down. Although there won't be hard data until we conduct a formal survey in September, the anecdotal evidence is that some were down, some were flat, a few were up, and many health and human service agencies continue to run a deficit and deplete reserves. Overall, however, it wasn't as bad as many feared. That is a tribute to the Vineyard community, and it shows how much you care about the Island. We thank all of you who made the commitment to buy the tickets, bid at the auctions, contribute, and support these organizations despite the bite the recession may have taken out of you personally.
We are fortunate to have many loyal donors whose love and passion for the Vineyard has led them to a deeper level of commitment. They understand how important these institutions are to maintaining the character of the island. They become ongoing supporters of those organizations that preserve/maintain what they love most about the Vineyard. They do more than buy tickets or bid at summer events. They contribute to their favorite Island causes year-round, include them in their wills, serve on their boards/committees and make major gifts when extra help is needed. They are investing in the Vineyard so they can enjoy it again next summer.
Unfortunately, we need more donors to invest in the Vineyard and its people, because even before the recession there was a widening gap between the contributions our nonprofits receive and the cost of the services they provide. Ticket sales and auction proceeds don't pay all the bills. Summer fundraising events no longer provide enough money to fund the annual budget and now there are reserves that need to be replenished too.
What do you love most about the Vineyard? The arts? The historic charm? The open spaces and scenic vistas? Fishing or clamming? Recreational opportunities? The great programs and things for kids to do? The people, the sense of community and the small town feel? There are nonprofits that provide, protect, or maintain all these and many more things that make the Vineyard special. There are also non-profits that provide for the health and well-being of the year-round population, the people who keep the Vineyard running. What would we do without them? They caretake the Island as well as our homes.
These nonprofits need help, and it is demand for services from all of us that creates the need. Rest assured they all are working hard to scrub budgets and fine-tune programs so that your donations create real value and benefit.
Why not make a deeper commitment to those organizations that support what you love most about the Vineyard? To make a donation you can find a directory of Vineyard nonprofits, organized by area of interest on our website, www.mvdonors.org.
We mulch and fertilize our gardens to winter them over. We store our boats to protect them through the winter. We repair, repaint and re-shingle our houses, to ready them for the next summer. Make sure the Vineyard is ready for many summers to come. Invest in it because you love what it returns.
M.V. Donors Collaborative
A neighbor lost
To the Editor:
Our good friend and 92-year-old neighbor has lost his home of 67 years. No longer will I see across the street his cheery face and the outgoing nature that was unique to him. He kept a lively, interesting and a constant watch over our street and everything that happened on it.
When we moved to our home, he and his wife were there to greet us. He told me about how he knew my grandfather in the 1950s, and he acted as a grandfather to my children, who lacked one. Despite his age, he stayed active and engaged in the life of the neighborhood, taking walks to buy the newspaper or come home from church, stepping out to visit on the sidewalk, helping with stray pets or package deliveries.
He told me about how his son had died and how he and his wife had given their house to their granddaughter, with the right to live in it for the rest of their lives.
Little did he know how things would change after his wife died. Gradually his granddaughter changed his home and his life. First, she got him to agree to let her convert the upstairs to a rental apartment. He agreed that he could live only in the downstairs portion of the house, so his granddaughter renovated and rented out the upstairs. She also put a large mortgage on the property and got him to release the life tenancy of the house to just an apartment there.
Then his granddaughter got his permission to let her tear down his home of 67 years and build a new and larger house for her, her husband and daughter; with a small apartment in back for him. In less than two years, she had persuaded him to completely surrender his right to live there. Then she moved him to an isolated apartment far from the neighborhood he knew so well and loved so much. She promised him he would return home in September. Then she left the Island. She rented the house and apartment to summer visitors, and sold it just a few days before he expected to return. In return, he has received nothing.
He hates his isolated apartment. He has had pneumonia twice, including one hospitalization, since moving there in June. We visit him regularly, but we miss him across the street and worry about his health. We also worry that other elderly people like him will find they have given away far more of their lives than they ever intended.
To the Editor:
My relationship with the MVAS Fair began 45-plus years ago. During that time, I have entered into the judging crafts, needlework, foods and, for the past
seven years, livestock and eggs. My daughters, Samantha and Katy, who are now 19 and 14, have been entering things to be judged since they were little. In all those years, we have never had any problems, until this year.
My family entered eight chickens and my daughters were very proud to have their chickens win ribbons, including the Emma T. Parker Special Award for best overall bantam hen. Imagine my disbelief when I got a call at work from my family, Sunday morning, saying three of our chickens were missing from their cages, including the hen that won the Special Award. Needless to say my family and I are very disheartened and disillusioned to realize that we live in a society that has individuals who would steal livestock right off the fairgrounds, not to mention children's pets from their cages. What kind of person steals a child's pet, be it a cat, dog, bird or other animal? I just can't believe this has happened and I am disgusted. This was not a mistake; these bantees were intentionally taken. One was from a cage of two, leaving the other one behind. If they were taken for food, I wish you would have left a note and we would have bought you something to eat. If they were taken as a pet, please treat them kindly and take good care of them. These chickens had names and were a part of my family's daily life and will be greatly missed.
If any part of you feels guilty for taking these pets, please return them to 15 Menemsha Crossroad in Chilmark, and drop them loose over the stone wall between dawn and dusk, as the raccoons will get them in the dark. Or call 508-645-9751 to arrange a drop off/pick up - no questions asked. If not, I am a true believer in karma and what goes around comes around. You will get your due...eventually.
Thank you Capece family for your offer of baby chicks to my children and thank you Scarlet Blair for your offer of a Bantam chicken or rooster from your collection. You have restored our belief that there are still good people out there. We will, no doubt, see you next year at the fair and we will be keeping an eye out for each other's animals as we all need to stick together in a world that isn't as easy to live in as it used to be.
Kathy, Katy, Sam, and Bill Smith
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal.
I am writing in response to Elizabeth Williamson's August 29 article regarding local news coverage of the Obama visit to Martha's Vineyard, titled; "Newspaper War Disturbs the Peace in a Summer Haven." As a 30-year full-time resident of the Vineyard, I have seen the Island in the spotlight on many occasions. Nothing surprises me about my home any longer. And while I was not happy to see our two Vineyard papers sparring with each other over the coverage of the presidential visit, I find your article even more annoying.
Yes, we have two local newspapers on the Island, and they are a bit different in their outlook and reporting, however for those of us who live here it is nice to have both papers to look forward to. In the summer the Gazette prints on Tuesdays and Fridays, then in the "off-season" only on Fridays. The Times prints on Thursdays all year. Although the papers do have some opposing opinions and cover different stories, it is nice to have both available. In fact, in these days of failing newspaper sales and with the demise of several large companies it is wonderful to have two vibrant papers cover the news of our small community.
You state, "The two papers often seem as if they are covering different islands." I ask, isn't that what journalism is all about? How about the island of Manhattan? I'll bet you would complain if all the New York newspapers covered the same story in the same way.
I also take issue with several other statements from your article. First of all is your description of our two newspapers, with the Gazette as up-market and the Times as scrappy: "the island's up-market broadsheet and its scrappy, free tabloid."
You seem to have decided that the Gazette represents the well-heeled, educated, summer resident, while the Times represents the year-round service population, and that the population is somehow divided by readership, with a high-end Gazette following and a low-end Times following.
I mean come on, really, these are your words, and they offend me.
"The journalistic trash-talking reflects long-standing friction on an island where wealthy people vacation, and the less-wealthy people make a living mainly by servicing them."
"The tabloid's managing editor, Mr. Sigelman, the son of a radiator mechanic from Boston...."
"The broadsheet's publisher, Mr. Reston, is the son of the late, storied New York Times newsman James "Scotty" Reston, who also served as the Gazette's publisher for a time."
"The Gazette is housed in a prim, clapboard house flanked by upmarket clothing boutiques. Each week, a line of poetry runs above its 19th century-style banner."
"The waterfront office of the Times backs onto a boat-yard parking lot with a trash bin and sailboat awaiting repairs."
I guess what bothers me most is the continued effort by the media to perpetuate the split between a benevolent, wealthy summer population and the presumably less sophisticated "tabloid" reading year-round residents. While both Island papers may purposefully appeal to different audiences, the reality is that the make-up of these audiences is much more complex. Like any small community this "Summer Haven" has its share of controversies, which are not seasonally limited. Fortunately we have access to two wonderful local newspapers, which help both summer and year-round residents understand the Island that we all love so much.
A step toward construction
To the Editor:
Words cannot express the gratitude we feel to all the people that helped make the Bradley Square groundbreaking a success. The NAACP of Martha's Vineyard, its president, Laurie Perry-Henry and Larry Watson, Gov. Deval Patrick, state Rep. Tim Madden, Professor Charles Ogletree, the Martha's Vineyard Museum and Linsey Lee, the arts district and Alison Shaw, the town of Oak Bluffs, Greg Coogan, Ron DiOrio, the Island Housing Trust and Richard Leonard, Vera Shorter and the Shorter Family, the Henry family, the Rev. Dean Denniston and the Denniston family, Pamela Purdy, John G. Early Builder & Contractor, Crossland Landscape, Deon's Restaurant, and all of our friends and supporters who joined us for the historic occasion.
After two years of refining the project, the groundbreaking was the perfect event to reignite the excitement surrounding Bradley Square. The property has such a rich Island history that will be preserved and celebrated as we move forward. A place that was once an invaluable resource for the Island community will once again be just that. Through collaboration and dedication, together we can raise the money to make Bradley Square a reality.
Island Affordable Housing Fund
Love, not fear on page one
To the Editor:
I am getting a little frustrated with The Times this year, as it seems to have taken a turn similar to that of the major mainstream media outlets by printing a lot of fear-based news. For example, a picture of our own "swat" team on the cover one week. I realize that this is not the actual name of the group, but I would not read the article even though a family member was in the photo. I think it is in poor taste and damaging to put these types of fear-based articles on the front page. If we want to drown in fear and propaganda, all we have to do is turn on the radio, TV, or look at any mainstream news media. People make very poor decisions when in fear, because they are unable to access the frontal cortex of their brain where logic resides. At the same time their limbic system is being triggered. In these times we are living in, I feel it is very important for us all to be as present as possible and able to utilize our wisdom.
This week, under a picture of the Fair was a headline about the first H1N1 virus death on the Island. I want to quell some fears. Diseases do not jump species. This applies to the West Nile Virus, Swine flu etc. The only way someone can "contract" the H1N1 virus is if they are injected with it through vaccination. This also applies to the so-called AIDS virus. It was spread all over Africa through the mass vaccination program there in the name of aid, paid for by our tax money.
You do not need to believe me, go to www.virusmyth.com and make up your own mind. I am not speaking about this to spread more fear or so-called conspiracy theories. The facts are out there if you want to find them. It is much easier than it used to be. I am saying this because I want people to be empowered that they have many choices that affect their health.
Taking the Tamiflu or swine flu vaccine or any other for that matter may be one choice that you want to research before blindly following the suggestions of the World Health Organization and our health care system. Allopathic medicine plays an important role in trauma, however a pharmaceutical-based approach to wellness is an oxymoron and just plain not possible. However, the pharmaceutical cartel is very powerful, and our Food and Drug Administration unfortunately only protects their interests (financial), not ours (health and safety).
I do not want to tell people what to believe. I want to put this information that I believe out there to get people to start asking their own questions and answering them for themselves with their own research and intuition. I have chosen not to subject myself to most mainstream media for years in order to avoid the toxic fear onslaught. I generally enjoy reading The Times to stay in touch with my community. Please refrain from so much one-sided, fear-based journalism on the front page. If you feel the need to publish this information, fine. However, I suggest that you also print the other side's opinion as well, so that people can make up their own minds. It would also not hurt to print some more optimistic, simply wonderful stories about what is going on both on our Island and the world at large.
We are living in very intense times, and everyone, including your publication, must now decide whether they are going to come from fear or love. Fear begets more fear, and love begets more love. I know which one I choose. Most people are what they think and read. Help our community and choose love, not fear, to be placed on the front page. Love sells, too....
So much help
To the Editor:
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the Island sub-contractors, vendors and neighbors of The Blue Heron Farm, who, without a second thought, made themselves available 24/7, graciously endured all the security demands and, without being asked, quietly put forward an extra effort to make The Obamas' vacation a great success. You made our job easy, and we thank you.
Kathy Holliday and Jeff Carlson
Blue Heron Farm
To the Editor:
I am the daughter of Catherine Amaral and the granddaughter of William Amaral. I'm looking for the descendants of my grandfather William Amaral and his siblings - Clemen (Doc), Joseph, Augustus, Benjamin, and Annie Amaral - to join me and other family members at the PA Club Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 from noon to 6 pm. I'm hoping to have a long overdue Amaral Family Reunion with as many of you as I can get together in one place.
Please bring stories, memories, pictures, a family tree if you've got one or the time to make one, and food to share. I hope this will be a fun-filled family event for their children, their grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren to experience. Our family has a long history on the Vineyard and this is the time to pass this history down to the younger generations so they too will know and be able to pass it down too, as well as be proud of their heritage.
This may seem impersonal, but because there are so many of us spread near and far, this was my best bet to reach so many at once. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other stuff to newspaper about
To the Editor:
Along with the first family's entourage of family and friends and the secret service retinue the Island also played host to hoards of national media types (over 50, I'm told) last week. While I'm sure many nice stories and video clips were generated by this "invasion," certain pieces seem to have been generated simply because there was so little to report concerning the presidential visit itself.
One such article surfaced in the Wall Street Journal on August 29, written by Elizabeth Williamson, entitled "Newspaper war disturbs the peace in summer haven." Not only was the theme of this article concocted to create waves here, where there are really only small ripples, but each newspaper got sucked into responding to the author's inflammatory queries.
I personally like Doug Cabral and was instrumental in convincing him to move back to the Vineyard in the mid 1980s to take over the reigns at the Martha's Vineyard Times when it was floundering. He has done a nice job in staking out his market and running a successful enterprise. But unless his quotes were "taken out of context," I think it's highly unprofessional to call the Gazette staff a "bunch of lost souls, and we are eating their lunch." That would be akin to my putting down my photographic colleagues, perhaps claiming that my pictures were much clearer, artful and memorable, and that I was much more successful. Not only would that not be necessary, but it would belie the nature of what living here is all about: all for one and one for all.
The MV Times and Gazette each have their own readers and fans, and the battle lines have been clearly drawn for many years - the former being more right wing, pro business, blue collar and aimed at the workaday year-round population. The latter is more artful, upscale, left wing, and ecologically oriented. Both papers have their place on our treasured Island. I read them both avidly, and am always grateful that at least two sides of our weekly comings and goings are presented. Friendly competition historically inspires a better product. It would be truly sad were the Vineyard reduced to only one paper which would monopolize this complex and multifaceted community.
The snipey feel to the Wall Street Journal article was both irresponsible and unwarranted. I wish that they, and other media outlets, could have concentrated on more pressing and relevant issues such as affordable housing and the pollution of our natural resources.
Let the voters decide
To the Editor:
No, no, no, to changing the "Kennedy" law.
What do we tell our children and grandchildren?
"Well, that's politics."
And then you wonder why the voting percentage in the U.S. is among the lowest in the world.
"We the people" of Massachusetts will pick who represents us.
Carpetbaggers, especially Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, need not apply.
Jozef and Sheila Sliwkowski
Better care needed
To the Editor:
I was shocked to read in your article about last week's health care panel that our hospital is "incredibly fiscally strong" given the standard of care my family received in a recent hospital visit.
One evening a few weeks ago, our nine-week-old son spiked a high fever. When we called the pediatrician, he encouraged us to get to the emergency room without delay. We rushed into the hospital, and saw an ER waiting room filled to overflowing. The receptionist told us to take a number, that there was only one doctor on duty and that it would be a while before our son could be seen. There were no seats available in the waiting room, so we sat in chairs in the hallway near the vending machines, holding our sick child and watching a swarm of ants devouring the bits of potato chips and other food that were ground into the carpet. It took three hours for us to be seen by a doctor.
When we were finally seen, our son was misdiagnosed, given antibiotics for a condition he didn't have, and we were sent home. An hour later, he woke up with a higher fever than ever, shaking, purple, and struggling to breathe. We live in Aquinnah and that was a very long drive back to the ER. We then spent two more days in the hospital as more tests were done and he was monitored. In acute care, we noticed that the nurses were not always washing or disinfecting their hands when they came in to handle our boy. When we asked one nurse if she would do this every time she came into our room she raised her eyebrows and said, "Every time?" They never found out what caused our son's fever.
While we had some wonderful experiences with kind care providers during this experience, the hospital was filthy, the care inadequate, and there was not enough staff available. In August, our population grows so much that we cease to be a tiny community, and having one ER doctor available on August nights seems to be far from enough.
After sharing this story with friends and family, we have heard dozens of similar tales of rushing to the emergency room, being misdiagnosed, given antibiotics for the wrong thing and being sent home only for worse complications to develop.
There is no doubt that we need a new hospital facility, and I'm very grateful for that. I hope now that the hospital managers will take the steps needed to use its fiscal strength to ensure that the facility is maintained and that the care provided inside will keep our Island families safe and healthy into the future.