Letters to the Editor
Now, you can help
To the Editor:
This past January, our good friends Patty and Toby Codding lost all but their lives when a fire consumed their home of at least three decades. The quickly moving blaze rapidly converted Patty's treasures into charred wood or broken porcelain, while Toby's prized record collection was reduced to chunks of misshapen plastic.
No one is prepared to lose all. But the friends of the Coddings proved that everything was not lost. Quickly the community moved to help with the immediate needs of Patty and Toby; clothing, food, and not least, a roof. An event at the West Tisbury Ag Hall showed the Coddings that we all felt a little bit of their pain, and if they were bewildered by the sudden loss of a life's accumulations, we were equally stymied in our ability to really help.
At that time, many tradesmen expressed a desire to help the Coddings rebuild in a concrete way. Eight months and a full-blown recession later, most people in the construction industry on the Vineyard don't have much wealth to spread, and while the Coddings' insurance claim grinds unsatisfactorily along, their new house is slowly taking shape in the yard and among the trees where they called home.
But we can help at last, tradespeople. In a combined concerted effort we can construct new decks and walkways around their house, doing what we know how to do and giving to them a gift from the community who loves them. How easy is that?
A day of work among friends is fun and rewarding and satisfying - so unlike real work, in fact. So let's do it.
Saturday, November 7 is the day, weather permitting, otherwise Sunday the 8th. An 8 o'clock start for framing the decks is ideal. Carpenters bring your saws, horses, and cords: helpers can bring enthusiasm and spirit.
Make renting easier for landlords
To the Editor:
I am responding to a recent editorial in The Times about the current problems with the creation of more affordable housing sites. ("A fresh approach on housing" October 8.) The article mentioned a couple of projects that were basically giving up. Gee, this shouldn't be a real surprise. It is obvious that between the huge cost of development and the ongoing feeling of NIMBY that it would be harder and harder to create this type of housing. And maybe it should be harder.
Let's face it, not everyone can own a house for a number of reasons. They may not have the down payment, may not be able to make payments, or maybe only want to stay here for a few years and don't need a huge commitment.
The editorial suggested alternative thinking.
There are a large number of perfectly fine houses on Martha's Vineyard that would make good year-round rentals but they are not available. Why?
Well, part of the reason is that the rules/laws in this state are almost entirely in favor of the tenant. The landlord has very few rights when it comes to collecting rent owed or eviction if necessary.
I would like to propose that some of the energy being put into building new structures for the affordable housing programs be instead spent trying to create a program that could offer to prospective landlords a way to rent year-round with some type of guarantee that they will be paid the agreed upon rent and they would get their house back at the end of this term without a hassle, in the same condition that it was originally rented out. This would need to be with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape up front.
My credentials for saying this are based on having been a landlord on the Island for more than 40 years and having seen all kinds of different situations in the rental field.
Going too far
To the Editor:
This is my opinion about the article about Chilmark closing the beaches during the swell from Hurricane Bill. I understand that they are not public beaches. I think I would agree with Frank Fenner, that how can the town be held responsible for people getting hurt for something that is not under their control? Are you going to tell people they cannot ride bicycles on town roads because they might get hurt or killed? Where do you draw the line?
I think if there is a hurricane occurring on Martha's Vineyard, I can understand closing the roads so people will not be put in danger by falling trees or wires, also to keep the roads open for emergency vehicles, but we were not in a hurricane, merely the waves from a storm which was 300 or more miles away. Imagine if a ski resort closed every time there was a snow storm, so no one would hit a tree and get hurt.
Any sport has inherent risks. I do not think it is fair to single out surfers and close the beaches, just because the waves are large and great for surfing, for fear someone might get hurt. I can understand putting up warning flags or signs saying "Surf At Your Own Risk," but to close the beaches is going too far.
Chas de Geofroy
To be mourned, not celebrated
To the Editor:
Regarding the photo of the monster bluefin tuna catch (MV Times, October 8, page 27): Just last Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced its support of listing the Atlantic bluefin tuna on the International Trade Endangered Species list. "Over the past 40 years," according to their statement, "the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), has overseen a 72 percent decline in the adult population of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock of bluefin tuna and an 82 percent decline in the adult population of the western Atlantic stock."
Too many commercially desirable fish species - Atlantic cod, Patagonian toothfish (a/k/a Chilean sea bass), and orange roughy, to name a few - are facing the very real possibility of being fished right into Endangered Species status. Why? Inadequate to non-existent fishing regulations and uneducated seafood consumers and unscrupulous wholesalers (especially in Japan, where small fortunes go to the increasingly rare prime specimen). The death of even a single breeding age animal of a dwindling species is something to be mourned, not celebrated.
To the Editor:
In rebuttal to the gentleman's letter from Edgartown lambasting Glenn Beck and his voice regarding the Constitution and what is taking place in our country today, let me fill you in on a few facts you neglected to mention in your letter:
The change that we are experiencing is not what the voters expected.
Obama closed Gitmo without knowing what he was going to do with the prisoners.
Many that were let loose are back in the field fighting for terrorism.
He did away with the missile shield over Poland, contrary to the wishes of many Eastern Europeans.
He bowed to a Saudi Arabian, as if in submission.
His stimulus packages are doing little to stimulate the economy, as many experts have pointed out, time and again. He fails to listen.
His whole background is murky, with his relationship with the likes of Ayers, Van Jones, ACORN, Rev. Wright, and a host of "czars" in his administration.
He continues to push a health plan that a good percentage of the people, particularly the elders, are staunchly opposed to.
He attempted to have the 2016 Olympic games take place in Chicago. That would have done little to stimulate the economy and actually cost a fortune, enriching only certain individuals in his cabinet.
He goes to Denmark, on this venture, when he should have been giving his time to solving problems in Iraq and Afghanistan and listening to his generals.
His next goal is to give amnesty to illegals, including a large assortment of criminals and terrorists, sneaking across our borders.
In case you are not aware of it, Mr. Beck has had a number one bestseller on The New York Times list of bestsellers entitled: "Common Sense."
This country is drifting away from all that the Constitution stands for, and that is why we have had so many Tea Parties by concerned citizens, who are depicted as violent etc, by the one-sided media.
This is not what the voters expected. In essence, contrary to the letter, indeed, many of us are "docile, silent lambs" being led to slaughter.
Glen Beck is a patriot. This country is sadly in need of more Americans like him.
Norman S. Reed
Are you a barnacle?
To the Editor:
This letter was written to Barnacle Club members and others interested in their organization.
On September 10, we had a good turnout of members and guests for the supper and program aboard the lightship Nantucket as guests of the owners. The speaker was a down-Cape harbor master and light vessel enthusiast who showed pictures, talked, and answered questions about the lightships that marked the shoals of the channels south of the Cape and others nearby.
The recent supper programs have been poorly attended. Those of us left who have been trying to carry the load need some assistance from younger men who can help with suppers and programs. We are looking for those with knowledge of maritime and/or Island history and others with modern AV skills to assist with the after-supper programs. In the "galley" we need help from some younger men with the preparation and clean-up as our crew has diminished in size and increased in age.
We are hopeful that there are men with Island connections who would like to see a century plus organization be able to stay active. As best that we can tell the club was established circa 1870 when our predecessors were kicked out of their winter loafing places and were forced to get their own rooms. That was a time when self-made entertainment was all there was. Is there the needed interest and commitment to maintain the viability of the club?
Let us hear or receive your positive ideas. I can be reached at 508-696-8919 or 508-992-7712.
Alan. P. Wilder, President
To the Editor:
This letter was recently sent to the selectmen for the town of Oak Bluffs.
The selectmen recently laid off two town employees. If the board and the harbormaster, a town employee, had managed the 20 moorings in the north end of the harbor as seasonal rentals and rented them to members of the East Chop Beach Club for a fee of $1,500, as you both had been advised to do, the town would have received $30,000 in additional revenue. Instead, the Harbormaster issued 20 mooring permits to the club for a total fee of $3,500. The club then rented them to its members for $18,000, pocketing the $14,000 difference.
These permits expire on December 31, 2009. In April, 2010, the selectmen should direct the harbormaster to inform the club that the 20 permits will not be renewed and that the moorings will be rented for $1,500 each to those members of the beach club who complete and file a mooring application, listing the name and address of the owner and a description of the boat of record that will be moored in the harbor during the 2010 season.
The harbormaster can then provide this information to the town assessor, which he has been unable to do in prior years because the club has refused, although requested, to provide this information to him. The assessor will then be able to issue boat excise tax bills to the owners.
The additional $30,000 in revenue that the town will receive from the mooring rentals may enable the board to rehire one of the laid-off employees. Since these same boats were moored in the harbor during the 2009 season, the assessor can collect the taxes the owners should have paid last year.
It is within the discretion of the harbormaster not to renew the permits issued for the 2009 season because the club has violated a number of conditions of the permits as contained in the application form, the town harbor bylaw, and the town harbor regulations.
Oak Bluffs and Cambridge
To the Editor:
By the time you Islanders read this I will be long gone and safe from the fallout my words might attract.
Some years ago I was happy wallowing in the tranquil beauty of Ireland right at the other side of the Atlantic. Suddenly Martha's Vineyard entered my life. The message of this great Island was borne by a beautiful and very wise messenger named Trudy Taylor. She told of this wonderful Island at the other side of the Atlantic, which was born from a glacial deposit, of its beauty, its people, the folklore, and above all that it was the home to so many fantastic people who shared the magic that is Martha's Vineyard.
The spell was cast, I was entranced.
It took me a few years to get here, and now as I get ready to board the ferry, I ask myself, "Was Trudy correct?"
I justified my visit here by gathering a group of avid sea kayakers who were in search of the ultimate kayaking experience. I found them in Ireland. The echoes of Trudy's descriptions were still in my head, and it was enough to get them to follow me to Martha's Vineyard.
Our trip was hosted by Chick, a great kayaker and owner of Island Spirit Kayak. Every day and night, she introduced us to some great kayaking in the ponds and the open seas around the Vineyard. Every evening my kayakers searched for superlatives to describe the experiences they had. For me it was a great lesson in sustainable and eco-friendly tourism. The Island has a charm and pace that seduced us. Every person we had an interaction with made us feel welcome, and it was as if we knew them all our lives.
We spent a very special night in the company of the mad potter and his partner Gina. His fascinating creations of castles and musical figures balanced on drift wood, not too far removed from the leprechauns of Ireland, stared out at us from the bushes around his studio.
We breakfasted in Nancy's under the images of the whaling ship long rotten. We dined and drank at the Brewery with its own special brews.
The week has passed oh too quickly, but Trudy had warned me there is a magic in Martha's Vineyard.
Was she right?
I am already working on getting my group of kayakers together for next year.
West Cork, Ireland
To the Editor:
It is the duty of educators, parents and all adults to ensure that all children receive a well-rounded education. In turn, this ensures a better future for all of us. Do not silence our childrens' creativity.
We are the parents of two strings program students.
Jonathan and Lisa Healy
Make a difference
To the Editor:
The elementary school string program is in very real danger of being drastically cut in the superintendent's shared services budget proposal, up for consideration by the all-Island school committee in its current meeting schedule. This would be a tragedy for our schools, our community, and for the hundreds of children who so greatly benefit from this wonderful program.
Study after study points to evidence that students exposed to strong music programs, particularly those with regular, sequential learning aspects, perform better in almost all subject areas. Test scores rise, communication and cooperation skills are exercised, and new forms of expression are learned. The young players in our program get a significant boost of self-esteem as they explore the limits of their potential.
This is not only true of the talented musicians, though they often discover their gifts through the process of participating in a structured program. The entire community of students, it has repeatedly been shown, benefits in a variety of academic disciplines, and adds to their own very human experience. As Shinichi Suzuki, father of our modern string teaching method, said, "Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart."
We are so very fortunate to have a set of incredible teachers who give their heart and souls to this program. It would be impossible to quantify the hours involved with teaching hundreds of kids in all our schools, organizing and conducting Island-wide orchestras, and managing the administrative details necessary to run this fine program. We have an embarrassment of riches at the service of our children.
The families of the students in this program believe in it wholeheartedly. They have seen with their own eyes all of the benefits bestowed upon their kids. They willingly invest the extra hours and endless energy necessary to add this endeavor to their lives. They pay for expensive instruments, take their youngsters an hour before school for orchestra rehearsal, sit with them at home during daily practice. They know it is a positive experience for everyone involved. I know it.
We find ourselves in a difficult economic climate, with some very difficult choices to make. However, we do not want to be penny wise and pound foolish. We need to ask ourselves, our superintendent, and our school board members, "What kind of community do we want to preserve? What values do we want to impart to the next generation?"
The strength of our children's education is at the core of our universal belief system. The string program enhances that education in ways great and small. Please let your school board know that this program is a critical part of the curriculum. If you can, please attend the all-Island school board meeting on Thursday, October 22, at 7 pm at the high school. Your voices can make a difference.
To the Editor:
What are we willing to do to help our schools? There is one aspect of the M.V. strings program, proposed for a budget cut, that hasn't been aired yet, and that is the support that that public school program has had since 1986, when the Island strings program was begun.
For 23 years, the non-profit Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society supported the strings program by loaning and maintaining string instruments and providing lesson scholarships to hundreds of students who wished to study music.
It has been a joy to watch first-graders, less than four feet tall, play their tiny custom-sized instruments, squeaky at first but as smooth as ever by the end of the first year of study. This is not an emotional issue, however. Research shows that study of an instrument in the early years promotes proficiency in reading.
The strings program, serving more than 200 students each year, is not a luxury. Furthermore, the collaboration between the Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society and the public schools should serve as a model. Can other nonprofits help keep the sound of music in our schools?
To the Editor:
Why should music be a part of basic education? Why should it be on a par with English, math and science? Plato once said, "Education in music is most sovereign because more than anything else, rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with them and imparting grade (sic) if one is rightly trained."
Learning to play a musical instrument helps students develop faster physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Dr. Frank R. Wilson, Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, reports that research shows instrumental practice will enhance coordination, concentration, and memory as well as improve eyesight and hearing acuity. He concluded that leaning to play an instrument progressively refines the development of the brain and entire neuromuscular system.
Music educators nationwide were asked why music should be a part of basic education.
Here are some of their responses:
• Music contributes to the school and community environment (quality of life).
• Music makes the day more alive and interesting, which in turn leads to more learning.
• Music education improves student listening skills.
• Music education provides for perceptual motor development.
• Participation in musical groups encourages team work and cohesiveness.
• Music training fosters creativity and individuality.
• Music education improves the self-esteem of participants.
• Music combines behaviors to promote a higher order of thinking skills.
• Music provides success for some students who have difficulty with other aspects of the school curriculum.
• Music education helps students develop cognitive skills.
As school budgets shrink, music education is rapidly disappearing. Would this happen if parents were aware of the inherent benefits their children would gain in the music classroom? I believe parents want the best education possible for their children. I also believe that Propositions 2.5 and 13 would not have passed had the voters known all the facts mentioned above.
Unfortunately, reduced school budgets have become a fact of life. Unless the family is upper or middle class, money is not available to supplement a child's education with private music lessons of one form or another. To assure that every child receives a good basic education, school budgets need to be evaluated once again.
My own personal experience tells me that early musical training has made other subjects easier to learn. I was surrounded by music all my life, since both my parents were music educators. I played the violin from age four and knew such basics as counting and rudiments of reading long before I started kindergarten. As a consequence of those early musical experiences, as well as my continued participation in music groups, math seemed to come easily. By the time I was in high school, algebra, trigonometry, and geometry seemed to be an outgrowth of those early musical experiences. A similar natural ease occurred with the study of English.
If you are still not convinced, ask yourself the following question: what caused the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) to think of the motion of planets in musical terms? Astronomy students could program a synthesizer to play Kepler's "Music of the Spheres" and explore history, science, math and music all at once. Of all the intelligences we are exploring, the musical is one of the most ignored and yet is the most universal.
Do you remember the musical melody which brought humans and aliens together in the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"? I thought so.
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to Dr. James Weiss, superintendent of schools.
As a former classroom teacher and a former string student, I am writing to urge you to continue support of the Island String Program.
It is a vital component to well-rounded learners of all ages. I took up the viola along with some of my four to five students while teaching in Chilmark, and it was a remarkable experience. I was even part of the student orchestra for a period of time. I saw firsthand the challenges and joy of success it brings to all who engage in the program, parents and children alike.
The arts are a crucial part of a complete education and I shudder to think of cutbacks in any area that pertains.
Lynne E. Whiting
Continue Felix Neck programs
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to members of the MV Public School Committee.
We are writing to urge you to continue to bring Felix Neck's educational programs to your schools and also to bring your students to Felix Neck. These programs make a difference in the education of every child progressing though the school system and are important to the future contributions of these young people to society. As judges at the MVRHS science fairs through the years, we have personally witnessed the benefits of these programs in students' projects. We are also impressed with the long-lasting effects of these programs in the stewardship of our Island by your graduates.
Please do your utmost to continue the Felix Neck programs.
Anita P. Hotchkiss
Frederick H.C. Hotchkiss