Letters to the Editor
IAHF explains its practices
To the Editor:
In September of this year it became evident that the funding necessary for one of our most vital programs - the Rental Assistance Program - was running out. This revelation came at the same time that the executive management of our organization was undergoing a change. As a result of these two events, we have examined our financial picture, closely scrutinized some unfortunate management decisions on our part, and reviewed concerns about past business practices. There has been a resounding call for more transparency. This letter is just one step we are taking to answer that call.
In the Vineyard Gazette issue of November 20, there was a front-page article that highlighted the decline in private donor contributions and the huge investment that the fund has made in the Bradley Square project - the combination having much to do with our current financial situation. There are a number of issues that we would like to take this opportunity to clarify:
With regard to our former executive director "taking a cut" from fundraising revenues, when [Patrick] Manning was hired we were unable to offer him a base salary that fulfilled his financial needs. In lieu of this, we offered a five-percent incentive for any funds he was able to raise over an annual $1 million. He was successful in accomplishing this and was compensated accordingly.
With regard to purchasing and holding property, prior to the creation of our sister organization, the Island Housing Trust, the fund did purchase, develop, and hold properties until they were completed and sold to each qualified buyer. Now the trust develops and manages the affordable housing that we create together. We do currently own the Bradley Square property and the market rate house on East Jenney Way in Edgartown, which has been actively on the market for over a year. All other real estate is owned by the trust.
With regard to reporting lobbying activity to the IRS, our form 990 is prepared by an independent CPA, whom we trust to prepare the return accurately.
Last, but hardly least, is the article's insinuation that the fund and trust should not be awarding design or construction contracts to South Mountain Company and that SMC and John Abrams have been feathering their nests by building affordable housing.
During the many years when everyone in the construction trades was swamped with work, there were virtually no experienced architects and builders who were willing to commit to affordable housing work; but South Mountain was there and not only embraced the work - at Sepiessa, Twin Oaks, Metcalf Way, Jenney Way, etc. - but did it at deeply discounted, zero-profit rates and developed standards and practices that have now been adopted all over the country. In 2007, when the design contract was signed for SMC to do 250 State Road, the trust made repeated attempts to attract other capable architects and builders to the project, with no success.
In addition to giving a very low contract price for construction, John Abrams and South Mountain brought in grant funding and donations that have helped to make this project possible. Now, in 2009, the economic climate has changed dramatically and when the trust put out the RFP for Lambert's Cove, there were a dozen builders who bid on the project.
Still, when the bids were compared on a square-foot basis, the winning bid for Lambert's Cove Road (not awarded to SMC....they did not bid on the project) was still higher than SMC's price for 250 State Road.
We do not minimize the concerns that have been raised over the past several weeks, but we do feel that we have reason to be proud of what we have accomplished over the past 10 years, in funneling over $2,600,000 of donor funds into the rental assistance program of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority. We are equally proud of the $3,100,000 we have provided to subsidize the difference between the cost of construction and the prices our affordable housing recipients are able to pay. Many families continue to live on the Island because we were there to support them, and we will continue to support them.
Thank you, reader, for taking the time to read this letter. At this juncture, nothing is more important to us than to examine our own house, share that information with you, and rebuild your confidence in us. In recognition of the questions and concerns you may have, we invite you to attend our open forum on Wednesday, December 2, at 5:30 pm at the Vineyard Haven Library. We welcome you to meet the board and staff. We encourage you to ask questions, offer suggestions, or just vent.
We fully believe that this process will make us a better steward of your investment of trust and financial support.
Candy DaRosa and Bob Wheeler
Members of the Board and the Staff
Island Affordable Housing Fund
Thanks so much for the support
To the Editor:
Regarding my letter entitled "Needs work," [November 19 MV Times], I just wanted to thank you folks for the great job offers. Also, thanks for all the support. What a great community we live in. Thanks again.
Wayne V. Iacono
What do we really think about turbines?
To the Editor:
What's going on in the wind turbine/ocean management hearings? It seems like they're being dominated by vocal Vineyarders who (a) believe that turbines are indisputably ugly, and (b) believe they speak for the majority of Islanders.
Have accurate opinion polls been conducted that confirm these beliefs? Do most Vineyarders think turbines are ugly, that they should be kept out of sight, and if they are visible, reparations should be paid (possibly in the form of reduced electric rates)?
To my knowledge, Vineyarders have not been polled, so we lack accurate answers to these questions. What are we waiting for? Let's conduct polls like those of the Department of Environmental Management of Rhode Island.
(See www.renewableenergy focus.com/view/5018/us-survey-shows-concern-with-noise-from-wind-turbines/.)
As a result of conducting their polls, Rhode Islanders have ascertained the truth. Among the questions asked, one comes close to addressing our greatest concern: how people feel about the visual impact of turbines near beaches. The R.I. finding: 83 percent said that the presence of a turbine would not make a difference to them when visiting a beach.
The survey also asked for opinions about land-based wind turbines. Negative opinions were recorded on a variety of issues, including noise levels (33 percent), impact on the landscape (28 percent), property values (23 percent), and bird/bat life (16 percent).
Instead of guessing about our feelings, let's conduct accurate opinion polls. With results in hand, we will be more informed and able to make sensible decisions about wind turbines and their role in halting climate change.
The Times, Gazette, MVC, or VCS could conduct the polls.
Success beyond expectations
To the Editor:
We would like to thank Jack Shea and The Martha's Vineyard Times for the excellent articles written about the West Tisbury Farmer's Market Winter Market. After countless hours of planning and organizing, we were nervous that no one would show up. The success of the market went beyond our expectations, and we would like to credit your paper for getting the word out. The Market was exactly what we hoped it would be. A place to come spend some time, shop for local food, see friends, have lunch, hear some music, and cozy up by the fire. Now that we know there is an interest, we will be working on ideas to keep the market operating throughout the winter. We hope this will give farmers and value-added vendors an opportunity to sell their goods year-round. The next market is scheduled for Saturday, Dec.12, from 10 am to 2 pm. Thank you for your support.
Deborah Koines and Linda Alley
To the Editor:
Thank you this Thanksgiving season to Edgartown's emergency response team and Martha's Vineyard Hospital for their quick response to my father's 911 call, on October 16. During my parents' visit from Texas, my mom fell and broke her neck and shoulder. Edgartown police/ambulance were there within a couple of minutes. After her critical condition was evaluated at the hospital, she was airlifted to a Boston hospital.
We feel that had it not been for the quick response and care she received, she may have been paralyzed. After five weeks of hospitalization and rehab, she will finally return to celebrate Thanksgiving in Edgartown. We are all so thankful this year for all the kind people on Martha's Vineyard involved in this emergency.
Ocean Act Plan threatens a job well done
To the Editor:
This is a letter we have sent to Secretary lan Bowles of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and to Deerin Babb-Brott of the Ocean Advisory Committee and to the committee members responsible for the Ocean Management Plan.
Since 1973, the town of Aquinnah (Gay Head) has conscientiously worked at protecting what we recognize as a national treasure. lndeed, the Gay Head Cliffs are a designated National Landmark. Often at great expense to our residents and property owners, we fought to preserve our beautiful landscape and ocean vistas, through conservation and with careful building restrictions.
We have agreed to taking much valuable land off our tax roles, we have opposed development in sensitive areas, and we have limited property tax revenues by keeping structure sizes small and in keeping with the scale of our landscape.
The people of Aquinnah have understood that this stewardship of a place of such great natural beauty was our sacred responsibility, and we feel that we have succeeded in this duty. Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world marvel at the simple unfettered beauty of the Gay Head Cliffs and its surrounding waters.
Without the guidance of the Martha's Vineyard Commission and its enabling act, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 831, we could not have accomplished this mission. Now comes the Ocean Plan with its potential impact on our vistas and marine resources.
We urge your office to support amending the Ocean Act to recognize the full authority of the Martha's Vineyard Commission under MGL Chapter 831, to oversee appropriate development of wind energy facilities in our ocean waters. The Ocean Act and the Ocean Plan, the research and vision in their preparation, and the recognition of urgent need for alternative energy sources, are all admirable projects, and we believe you are to be congratulated for the quality of the work involved. This failure to include the MVC and its regulatory powers may be the only serious omission.
Aquinnah Planning Board
A matter of jurisdiction
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Secretary Ian Bowles of the state Executive Office of Energy and the Environment.
The town of Aquinnah this week passed a town wind bylaw covering private and municipal wind facilities. lt is also investigating a municipal wind energy facility, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC). lt believes there is a public interest in the development of alternative energy sources, especially wind energy, given our natural advantages.
Aquinnah's main concern with the draft Ocean Plan is its treatment of process and jurisdiction. The town sees itself as an integral part of the regional planning and regulatory system created by the state when it established the Martha's Vineyard Commission under Chapter 831, more than 30 years ago. Under this system, the town eventually created a town-wide District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC) whose goals closely match those specified in Chapter 831, for the MVC. Appropriate development is the objective at both the MVC and the town of Aquinnah. That means development consistent with the goals of Chapter 831 and of the town-wide DCPC.
The state has designated two areas in its draft Ocean Plan for commercial wind development in state waters. The scale is major: up to 166 turbines, and that is just for starters. The proposed locations, slated for areas in and around Nomans Land and Cuttyhunk would have major consequences on the coastal surroundings in Aquinnah.
At the same time, the Ocean Act proposes to effectively re-write Chapter 831's terms for MVC jurisdiction over Developments of Regional lmpact (DRl), such as the developments designated in its draft Ocean Plan. The Ocean Plan is controlled by the Ocean Act of 2008, which specifically provides for an applicant to be able to appeal MVC denials and decisions on commercial wind projects to the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) for review and final determination. Period.
This amounts to a trump which flies in the face of the State's own Chapter 831 provisions. Namely, all appeals of MVC decisions go to court for an impartial resolution. A review by the EFSB, with all due respect to any particular individuals serving on it at any one time, would be conducted by an entity that is appointed by and serving at the purview of the governor.
We do not believe flaws in the Ocean Act, in particular the matter of MVC jurisdiction, can be remedied administratively by changes to the Ocean Plan. Such changes simply would not have the force of law and would therefore have unreliable political and legal shelf life.
Rather, we believe the Ocean Act would need to be amended to restore to the MVC its original jurisdiction under Chapter 831. lf the equivalent can be accomplished in another way, however, we would consider supporting that.
Reading Secretary Bowles' recent statements about the Ocean Plan, it is our understanding that he believes the EFSB functions independent of the legislation enacting the Ocean Act. lf so, then this would allow the EFSB to trump the MVC in the matter of siting commercial wind energy facilities. A revision to the current EFSB legislation may be needed in order to effect further discussion and change necessary in establishing a more cooperative environment.
Whether or not it is the Ocean Plan that becomes the legal venue through which process and jurisdictional differences are resolved, the town of Aquinnah would support an offer to the state that fast-tracks the MVC review process wherever possible.
ln addition, the town of Aquinnah would support an organized exchange of data between the state and MVC, in order to bring about a more comprehensive and thorough analysis of information needed to evaluate possible siting of wind energy facilities here in state waters off the coast of Aquinnah.
We feel the state will discover our collaborative efforts set forth by the MVC and town of Aquinnah will result in an open and willing exchange of information and furthermore one that will ask the hard questions, but nevertheless, one that is willing to serve the best interests of the public.
Spencer A. Booker
Board of Selectmen
Energy and the environment
To the Editor:
This is a letter I have sent to Secretary Ian A. Bowles of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
I am writing to urge you to strike the clearest possible balance between your duties as Secretary of Energy and your responsibilities as Secretary of Environmental Affairs, particularly as you consider the impact of the Ocean Management Plan on Martha's Vineyard.
I am doing so both as a member of the board of the Vineyard Conservation Society and as one of the first members of Vineyard Power, the local cooperative launched to generate large scale, offshore wind energy, while keeping the benefit and control within our community.
The coastal environment of Martha's Vineyard has been ranked by the Nature Conservancy as "one of the most beautiful and threatened natural systems in the world." Its protection is essential.
Vineyarders, therefore, welcome your assurance that the Martha's Vineyard Commission will have complete authority to approve, disapprove, and condition projects within its jurisdiction that are under 100 megawatts. It is not clear, however, how this authority will impact larger wind energy projects. It is also unclear whether you will support a corresponding amendment to the Massachusetts Oceans Act.
It is fully within your authority to call for both in the final version of the Ocean Management Plan. I urge you to do so.
Vineyard catch share a poor plan
To the Editor:
Recently, a group of folks from Martha's Vineyard led by Warren Doty have stated to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) that they would like to have an exclusive allocation of our state's summer flounder quota. To date, DMF and MFC (Marine Fisheries Commission) have discussed this idea at the last three commission meetings. Mr. Doty has explained that the port of Menemsha is a fishing village, that they've kept waterfront access for the fisheries a priority, and that they could obviously make more money (from it) if they hadn't. Much of this discussion is available for listening online at: http://capecodfisherman.net/menemshasole. Other groups have also expressed an interest in a catch share (for fluke and other species) as well. I am just writing to comment on the plans of the group from the Vineyard.
The term "catch share" seems to be the present favorite to describe what is essentially privatizing ownership of access to what had been a common access fishery. They've already instituted this system in other parts of our country. Alaska, for one, has an ITQ (Individual Transferable Quota) for their crab and halibut fisheries. Before the ITQ system in Alaska, everyone fished at the same time in a rush to catch as much as they could before the TAC (Total Allowable Catch) was reached, it was a race to the fish, but everyone got the same chance and different folks would catch more or less in different years. Homes and vessels have been abandoned there, no fishery meant no income, and no income is something that no one can live with. For most, the move to ITQ's meant the end of a way of life that had been theirs to choose, forever.
M.V. is not Alaska. M.V. doesn't have a fisheries-based economy, nor is it lacking other means to earn a living. Fishermen are in fact a minority of the population there and are statistically insignificant as a demographic of income earners. It isn't as if M.V. is suffering from a lack of income opportunities or a lack of seasonal guests who spend there freely. In fact, the Island is typically overrun with guests.
It's nice that Menemsha is so fisherman friendly, but it hardly seems to justify what Mr. Doty is asking for on catch histories, but these folks are asking for an allocation based on what they could catch. Isn't that a rich fantasy, knowing that you'd be able to catch what you want, when and only when you want to? How on earth do the folks requesting this allocation expect to convince the rest of us that they deserve a guarantee to the fish that we all own, especially when you realize that their sole motivation is financial. There won't be less bycatch or fuel burned. A boat will still burn "X" to catch "Y" and there will still be bycatch, so the only difference will be that these folks will be able to harvest the fish at their exclusive convenience.
The only benefit will be to eight draggers and five handliners, who would gain something the rest of us don't have.
To their credit, they are attempting to be the first in on what appears to be the latest and greatest way to "save our fisheries." I can't blame them on that point, but this isn't right, and it's not fair or justifiable in this particular instance. It's just greedy.
Catch shares are not good for anyone, unless they have one.
Your support appreciated
To the Editor:
I'd like to thank everyone who came out to support the Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club at our 2009 Biennial Casino Night Fundraiser. From my vantage point, manning the roulette table, it appeared that everyone had a great time, and we were able to raise $3,551 to support the club's youth programming.
There are so many people to thank for pulling this wonderful evening off, starting with our gracious hosts, the Edgartown Yacht Club. Thank you to the members, management, and employees of the EYC for allowing us use of your beautiful club for this event, and for the donation of the night's bar proceeds.
Thank you to all our dealers, table attendants, and servers: Abby Leighton, Howard Miller, Nick and Victoria Bologna, Stephanie Burke, Tom Pallas, Sonny Hall, Mark Mattison, Rick Lambos, Bill Rossi, Greg Rollins, Tom and Sharon Johnson, Linda Hathaway, Stephanie Coulter, and Richard Hewitt.
Thank you to the volunteers on the Casino Night Committee: Joe Forte, Karel Mattison, Nancy Kelly, and Stephanie Burke for a fantastic job planning and facilitating the evening and for baking all those corn bread muffins.
Thank you to Robin and Joe Forte and the M.V.R.H.S. Culinary Arts Department for a providing us with the amazing chili, soup, and salad spread.
Thank you to Priestley Smadbeck & Mone, Sharky's Cantina, Cakes by Liz, the Workout, Howell and Nancy Kelly, Soigné, and Morning Glory Farm for sponsoring tables and donating goods.
Thank you to Eberhard Suhr of SWISS Air for donating the raffle prize of 2 Roundtrip Business Class SWISS Airline Tickets from Boston to the European destination of your choice. Tickets are still available at the Boys & Girls Club (508-627-3303) and the Second Hand Store in Edgartown. The drawing will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009.
And last but not least, thank you to all the big winners and high rollers that could have cleaned us out, but donated their winnings back to the Club. Your generosity did not go unnoticed and we truly appreciate the support.
On behalf of the Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, thanks again and have a safe and happy holiday season.
Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club
A shame that The Game is lost
To the Editor:
It is a shame that the Island Cup was canceled this year. I know so many students and parents who missed all the various inter-island high school sports competitions. In the hopes of reviving any part of the schedule, I thought I would share this poem. My daughter wrote it last year after the tragic loss of a Nantucket teen. It would appear our kids got a lot more out of the relationship than a rival.
The Game, by Erin Morris. I remember the game/I remember the rain on the plane/I remember walking the halls of her school/I remember their true color that day was blue/I remembered her face/I remembered her strength/I remembered she took her own life.
I remember the game/I remember we stood hand in hand/I remember her father's goodbye/I remember the gentleness in her sister's face/I remember the tears.
I remember the game/I remember playing the game/I remembered we were the enemy/I remembered they were her team/I remember the kick, it was hard on the ground/I remember the ball bounced up as the goalie bounced down/I remember the goal/I remember the celebration when it went in.
I remember the game/I remember running past her friend/I remember stopping and hugging/I remember I said "keep going"/I remember the score/I remember we won/I remembered what we all lost/I remember the game.
Busy equestrian month
To the Editor:
Dressage riders on the Island had two busy weekends, and I wanted to take a moment to thank those involved. On the weekend of the November 14-15, Arrowhead Farm hosted a clinic with David Collins. Thanks to Lisa Weis for organizing such a nice clinic. On November 22, the Martha's Vineyard Horse Council offered a clinic with Keith Anstadt. Once again Mary Ann Brock graciously offered Misty Meadows Farm, and the riders enjoyed a great clinic at a beautiful facility. Hopefully, we can all keep riding through the winter. Thank you again to all involved.
To the Editor:
Please thank Norman Reed for the truth about how things are under the wonderful nuts in D.C. Thanks, Norman, please tell us more, as we all need it.