Senators Kerry, O'Leary say earlier vote was a mistake
Supporting a proposal to allow the governor to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat, U.S. Sen. John Kerry panned as a "waste of time" a Democratic state legislator's proposal to limit the timeframe during which the governor may make such an appointment.
Mr. Kerry made his comments at a public hearing September 9, called to discuss a proposal to fill the Senate seat left vacant after Sen. Edward Kennedy's death on August 25. A special election is set for January 19, but there is lingering disagreement over how best to proceed in the interim.
The proposal Senator Kerry referred to, filed by Rep. Robert Koczera (D-New Bedford), would allow for an appointment but prevent the governor from making it until candidates for the special election have filed nomination papers, the deadline for which is October 20. The governor would then be precluded from selecting an appointee from among the candidates who filed papers.
Mr. Kerry spoke on the proposal at a hearing of the Committee on Election Laws, which had been moved up from October date.
Party primaries in the special election are slated for December 8.
The goal of Mr. Koczera's proposal, which Mr. Kerry said he shared, is to prevent a temporary appointee from using the power of incumbency to win in a special election. But Senator Kerry, seated alongside U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, said barring the governor from making an appointment for months would be unwise. Rather, he said, securing a personal commitment from an appointee not to participate in the special election should suffice.
Despite the overwhelming support for the bill at the hearing, its prospects in the Legislature remain unclear. Democrats are sensitive to public concerns about political opportunism, with several acknowledging that changing the law would be an act of politics.
Senator Kerry's testimony came as Republicans on the panel said the sudden urge to change the law smacked of power politics and a push to enable a Democratic governor to appoint Kennedy's replacement. In 2004, Massachusetts Democrats rejected Republican proposals calling for an interim senator, knowing that Republican Gov. Mitt Romney would have made the selection. At the time, Kerry was considered to have a strong chance to capture the presidency, creating a Senate vacancy.
Some Democrats sounded a contrite note Wednesday, saying they made a mistake in 2004 by rejecting Republicans' requests.
"Did we make a mistake back in 2004, were our Republican critics right? I think on balance we probably did," said Sen. Robert O'Leary (D-Barnstable).
Mr. Kerry agreed, saying "the Republicans had it right" in 2004, when he was running.
Big Bridge sports traffic lights
A shocking sight confronted Island drivers this week along Beach Road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs: traffic lights.
Construction crews erected temporary traffic lights at Big Bridge in anticipation of upcoming construction work. Lights will soon be installed at Little Bridge.
Both bridges will be reduced to one lane for most of the fall and winter months, while crews work to replace the bridges. The lights facilitate traffic flow in one direction, while vehicles traveling in the other direction await their turn.
MiG corporation of Acton is scheduled to complete replacement of half of each bridge before Memorial Day of 2010, then return to replace the other half of each bridge next fall and winter. The construction schedule is to accommodate the busy summer season.
Edgartown special town meeting set
Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to schedule a special town meeting on October 27, but town officials do not anticipate asking voters to cut budgets or reduce staffing of town departments. After some initial concern and downward revision of revenue projections earlier this year, the town is in good financial shape, according to town administrator Pam Dolby. "We're doing a lot better than we thought we would be," she said.
While the warrant is not yet set, it's likely the most controversial topic of the special town meeting will be whether to pay the assessment for Edgartown's share of the Martha's Vineyard Commission's operating costs. Voters narrowly rejected paying the $274,000 assessment when it was presented as a Proposition 2.5 override ballot question at town elections in April, even though town officials conceded Edgartown is legally obligated to pay. The issue was on the warrant for a scheduled June 18 special town meeting, but that meeting was cancelled because of a lack of a quorum.
Selectmen have not yet determined whether to include "local option" hotel and meals taxes on the warrant, but expect to schedule public hearings on the issue soon.
The town meeting is scheduled for 7 pm, Tuesday Oct. 27 at the Old Whaling Church on Main Street.
Shellfish constable Derek Cimeno dead at 39
Tisbury shellfish constable and Oak Bluffs resident Derek Cimeno died Monday night at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He was 39.
The Tisbury selectmen agreed to lower the town's flags to half-mast on Tuesday in Mr. Cimeno's memory and canceled their work session that night.
Mr. Cimeno worked for the town's shellfish department for 20 years. He was appointed shellfish constable in 1997.
The Massachusetts Shellfish Officers Association named Mr. Cimeno the state shellfish constable of the year in 2004.
"When Derek came in, our shellfish industry in Tisbury was struggling," selectman chairman Tristan Israel said Tuesday. "We were not known in that period as a town that had a very successful scallop crop. Derek really worked hard and turned all that around. In fact, there are many years under his watch that we've been envied as a town for our shellfish harvest. That is certainly a part of the legacy that Derek has left us."
Often accompanied by his young son Anthony to selectmen's meetings, Mr. Cimeno often mentioned in his department reports how much he enjoyed working with Island school children on their field trips to the town's waterways.
"It's an extremely sad day for all of us, not only the residents of Tisbury that Derek has served so adequately for years, but also the friends that he's made," said selectman Jeff Kristal, whose son Evan was on a baseball team coached by Mr. Cimeno.
Progress on Wampanoag oyster farm cleanup
An equipment barge is being dismantled, and work to reduce the scope of an oyster aquaculture project operated by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Menemsha Pond is nearly complete, according to Wampanoag planner Durwood Vanderhoop.
"The field is pretty much in order," said Mr. Vanderhoop. A survey of the area on Monday showed floating oyster bags anchored in neat rows, and the beach clear of any abandoned bags or gear.
Mechanical equipment has been removed from a large wooden scow, according to Mr. Vanderhoop. A contractor is working to dismantle the rest of the vessel.
Mr. Vanderhoop said oysters are growing and the Tribe's intent is to begin marketing the shellfish again. The project was essentially abandoned in 2007, when the Tribe ran out of money needed to sustain the aquaculture operation.
The oyster project has been the subject of numerous complaints over the past seven years because of loose gear washing up on area beaches. The issue came to a head earlier this year when the Aquinnah board of selectmen refused to renew the Tribe's lease on the pond.
The lease issue remains unresolved. At their May 19 meeting, selectmen extended for 30 days a deadline for resolution of the complaints. The board has not addressed the lease issue since, according to selectman Jim Newman.
Tisbury police host bike safety day for Island kids
The Tisbury police department will host a bicycle safety day for Island children in grades K-8 this Saturday, Sept. 19, from 11 am to 2 pm, in the parking lot behind Tisbury School on Spring Street.
In addition to a bicycle safety check, children will learn riding safety tips, such as how to cross an intersection safely, and sharpen their maneuvering skills by riding through a serpentine obstacle course. Always a crowd-pleaser in years past, radar used by the Tisbury police will clock children's bike-riding speeds.
The first 50 children who sign in will receive a free bike helmet and tee-shirt. In addition, all who complete the bike obstacle course will be entered in a free raffle for a chance to win one of three Trek bicycles that will be given away, one donated by Cycle Works and the other two purchased with grant money.
To refuel the young cyclists, free chips, soda, hot dogs and hamburgers will be served.
The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 20, at the same time and place. For more information, contact the Tisbury police department, 508-696-4240.
Dog trio nabbed for Tisbury chicken-killing
The latest in a long string of dog incidents involving huskies owned by Kenneth Garde of Tisbury and his family members occurred Tuesday.
Tisbury Animal Control Officer (ACO) Laurie Clements responded to a call at 3:45 pm, from the Dukes County Communications Center, reporting that two dogs were killing chickens at a residence on Colonial Lane.
Ms. Clements said that when she arrived, she observed three dogs at work. Owner Ann Lucas took one badly injured hen to the vet to be euthanized.
Although Ms. Clements identified the dogs as the property of the Gardes, she said none of them were Storm, a dog owned by Mr. Garde and previously banned from Tisbury for killing chickens and ordered deported from Martha's Vineyard.
Unfortunately, however, one of Storm's chicken-killing sprees in the past also took place at Ms. Lucas's property.
Ms. Clements said she took photos at the scene and returned the three Huskies to Mr. Garde's house on West Spring Street. She is completing paperwork on the incident in preparation for a hearing to be scheduled soon before the Tisbury selectmen.
Although an article "Nancy Cook tends Edgartown flags," in last week's Times referred to Ms. Cook's job as custodian for Edgartown Town Hall, Ms. Cook receives separate stipends from Edgartown, Dukes County, and the American Legion for raising and lowering flags. Ms. Cook raises the flags between 7 and 9 am in the summer and between 8 and 9 am once school starts.
Tisbury selectman Geoghan Coogan, a lawyer, asked that we clarify a news brief published on September 10, "Tisbury selectmen, police face lawsuit." The brief described a lawsuit, naming the selectmen in their official capacities, not individually.