Letters to the Editor
Something for housing
To the Editor:
Affordable housing, the underfunded oxymoron of Martha's Vineyard, needs our help. BandAid funding in the form of donations cannot and will not support the steady and growing need for housing opportunities and subsidies today and in the future. Affordable housing needs serious help by way of a consistent, year over year income stream that can be subsidized or built upon through donations and other fundraising efforts. This is nothing new, and many bright minds have toiled away the dark hours pondering a solution.
Having lived here for close to 40 years, and as the principal of a small Real Estate firm, I feel I see both sides of the conflict pretty clearly. Year over year increases in real estate values and a booming real estate economy, combined with towns historically working hard to prevent more change have created a situation of unavoidable tension in the housing market. All the people who work on buildings or rent, own and sell homes here benefit from the high costs of rentals and sales. It's one of the engines, if not the biggest, that runs the Vineyard economy. But we all benefit at the detriment of those who struggle to afford to live here and who against all odds fight the fight to stay. These people are our friends; they are our neighbors, our boards, our employees, our community.
This is about self-preservation. It seems like a natural idea that the people of the Vineyard would like to see the future preserved for generations to come. It also seems reasonable that we'd like to do this without waiting for a bigger collapse of the real estate market driving values down so far to make them affordable again and simultaneously causing people to flee for cheaper, more job-prone areas. With the recent decline in the housing market, the rental housing market has also softened up, allowing for the conversion of a few summer homes into year-round rentals, but it's still far from good.
On our Island, we do a large volume of rentals, which as Don Muckerhide has presented in unpopular past arguments, could fuel our affordable housing market. It's been hard to come to a realistic number on the volume of seasonal rentals we do here, but I would venture a guess of between $100 and $150 million a year. That's a massive number, year after year. The concept of a tax poses many problems, in management, enforcement etc., as well as a lot of resistance, especially in this economy. Many real estate agencies will say they cannot afford to do anything, or they already do all they can.
I think the idea of a voluntary donation makes more sense right now. Here's my proposal. I would like to see all the real estate agencies come together and volunteer to donate half of one percent of their 15-plus percent rental commission. I would like to also see the owners who benefit from these rentals also donate half of one percent. ($500 on $100,000 of rental income) Together we would have one percent per year to voluntarily donate to the Island Affordable Housing Fund, a 501 C-3 non-profit, and thus we would receive a tax benefit for that donation. Together we could raise from just this initiative alone more than $1 million per year.
But let's not stop here. People visiting the Island also benefit from the high cost of real estate. It's what keeps this place so beautiful and underdeveloped. Let's ask real estate agencies to add a $50 administration fee to every lease. Many agencies already do this in some form, and the ones that do not certainly could. This could generate another few hundred thousand per year.
But as these are just ideas, I decided to poll some of my homeowners to see what their reactions would be. So far, everyone I spoke to thought the idea was sound. It's a community effort idea. We all take a very small share, and by pooling our efforts make a very large impact. The key is doing it together. Sure this is another controversial idea, but I'd like to think of it as a baby step towards a solution we can create together.
Feiner Real Estate
To the Editor:
I would like to thank all those involved in realizing a dream of mine, to float a lighted Xmas tree in Sunset Lake, Oak Bluffs.
Todd Alexander, Paul Mahoney, Chris Gibson, Jim Moreis, Will Debettencourt, Joe Alosso, Rich Combra, and my landscape crews. Heartfelt thanks.
To the Editor:
I would like to thank everyone who came to my mom's (Linda Marinelli) moving off-Island party. It was a nice gathering. I also wanted to thank the P.A. Club and everyone who helped it all happen, especially Sara Crafts for the great idea and all she did to put it together. Thanks to the newspaper reporters also, who wrote lovely write-ups and took photos (The Times. Nov. 19, "A farewell tribute to Linda Marinelli"). Just to explain one error that may have confused some readers. The article with the family photo stated that Mike, who appeared in the photo, was Linda's son. But, Linda has no sons. Mike is my boyfriend, and they meant to state that he was Linda's son-in-law but wrote only son by mistake.
Thank you all for a nice event.
To the Editor:
Sam and Diane Jackson of Edgartown would like to send out a thank-you note to family, friends and co-workers. You all have been so kind during Sam's recent illness. Sam is improving on a daily basis. It's hard to believe that three months have passed. We wanted to let everyone know that well wishes may be sent to Kindred Hospital, c/o Samuel Jackson, 1515 Commonwealth Avenue, Brighton, MA 02135-3617.
A generous idea
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Malcolm Hammond.
This letter is being sent to you at the request of the Animal Shelter board that voted to publicly acknowledge your generous and thoughtful gift. Your selfless idea of using your 11th birthday party to collect money for the Animal Shelter in lieu of gifts shows an unusual community awareness for your age.
We are happy to report that your efforts resulted in hundreds of dollars being donated to the shelter for the care and wellbeing of the animals. We hope you will visit the shelter to see the good work your generosity supports.
"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mohandas Gandhi
Russell H. Smith
County of Dukes County
He has all the answers
To the Editor:
This is a letter to President Obama.
After watching your speech last week to the servicemen concerning your planned escalation in Afghanistan, I felt compelled to write this letter. Looking at the faces of those poor souls and listening to their weak applause, I just wanted to save their lives. May I propose a plan that will, within months, begin to repair our economy and, most likely, end most worldwide terrorism. It might actually be this simple.
It appears to me you are falling into a common misconception that has never worked for any past administration and has been intelligently exploited by fundamentalist terrorists. These fundamentalist Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and others, primarily want the USA off all Muslim lands.
The private sector needs a mandate from our government to make the transition from oil to alternative fuels, not merely the current policy of encouragement and tax incentives. If you simply forced the automobile industry, through a mandate, by demanding all cars, and trucks, within five to seven years, be equipped with either an electric or natural gas engine, or use some other alternative fuel, and mandated a national energy plan that unilaterally ended our oil addiction, think what would happen.
Right now, we have enough natural gas within our borders to supply all of our domestic energy needs for 100 years, and we have enough domestic oil, with our ally Canada, to service our minimized oil needs after this energy transition period is completed. There is currently a car manufacturer in California that has perfected and is currently mass producing fast and high powered cars that get 250 miles on a two-hour home electric charge, by using sophisticated lithium batteries. If you mandated wind and solar powered battery charging service stations all across America, where our current gasoline stations are now situated, a car could pull up and exchange a universally sized battery in minutes and be able to travel another 250 miles. The price of oil would also plummet, for fear of a future diminishing demand need, which would only help this 5-7 year transition plan. Most importantly, every Arab oil producing nation in the world would be begging at your feet to keep our country addicted to their oil, and they would use their own armies and influence to intervene to end terrorism in their respective countries.
If we started dismantling our operations in the Middle East, the terrorists would simply fold, as their founding charter has been satisfied, to rid the Middle East of American influence, and any remaining terrorist would soon be run out by the local governments, without our servicemen firing a single shot.
In addition, every new and existing home and business in the entire southern section of the USA should have a solar thermal and/or solar PV system installed. The utility companies and every town should be mandated to use and enforce new energy policies, using either natural gas, wind, solar, or alternative fuels. Of course, these changes take a huge investment. This would be possible if you begin to switch all the Iraq and all the Middle East defense budget funds into this change. Also, with a mandate, the private sector would willingly jump into this restructuring of America´s energy needs.
Within months, millions of people would begin to become employed, the world would respect us again, terrorism would end within a year, the environment would begin a cleansing process away from the current heavy carbon emissions, and America would become an independent energy nation. Think of all the current factories in the USA that are now shut down and the many new private green companies that would emerge and jump into this energy conversion windfall.
Sending more troops to the Middle East is self defeating. Continuing to send our US dollars for oil to the Middle East is economic suicide. Having our people being unemployed and living off welfare is unnecessary. War actually increases terrorism, by creating a rally call and simply forcing the terrorists into hiding places where they are actually more effective and harder to dislodge. Listen to the terrorist, they want us out of the Middle East. Let's do exactly that. If we agreed to leave all other Middle East countries, you could broker a deal that would allow Israel to now be respected as the sovereign nation. And when our energy needs change from oil, just watch the miracles that will happen to other countries around the world that follow our lead. The new national priority should be to divest ourselves away from oil and invest in a clean energy future, not trying to solve our problems with guns and a misguided use of our taxpayer savings.
Paul D. Adler
Featured LVD director answers Herald
To the Editor:
Monday's article in the Boston Herald began, "Blazing a trail for renewable energy, Gov. Deval Patrick is alienating Martha's Vineyard's liberal rich and famous by pushing a plan to lease state waters for 166, 450-foot-high wind turbines between the pristine vacation spots of Gay Head cliffs and Cuttyhunk Island."
While the rest of the article reported facts, the harm had been done. We Vineyarders with our extensive diversity had been collectively categorized as "liberal, rich and famous," and our unified and collective opposition to an incomplete state plan dismissed by Secretary Ian Bowles as "tilting at windmills" like Don Quixote.
Tuesday's Herald reported that, "Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday brushed off criticism of his proposal to plant 166 massive wind turbines off the coast of tony Martha's Vineyard, even as he sought to reassure the wealthy enclave's enraged residents he's not spoiling for a fight."
The Herald continued, "The Vineyard is a playground of celebrities, powerbrokers and presidents, hosting the Obamas last summer and the Clintons during the '90s."
The article concluded: "Yesterday, Patrick charted a cautious course to avoid offending Martha's Vineyard's liberal rich and famous, who've backed Patrick politically in the past."
"Nothing is going to be rammed down anyone's throat," Patrick said.
A Patrick spokesman, Robert Keough, said the Martha's Vineyard Commission, a planning agency, still could reject the turbines.
Still, as Islanders complain their ocean vistas will be ruined, Patrick argued that the "area is already called a 'no-man zone' for a reason," and that it used to be used by the military for target practice.
A quick reading of the online comments to both articles discloses that words such as "tony", "rich liberal" and "playground of the rich and famous" etc. have unleashed a torrent of hostility toward some imagined effete, sherry sipping whiners who are complaining in nimby fashion about their views.
Nonetheless, stubborn and apparently inconvenient facts remain:
The state issued a draft plan that placed an enormous wind factory off Nomans Land and Cuttyhunk as its only wind factory.
The Vineyard, speaking with one voice - its commissioners, its selectmen, and more than 600 Vineyarders acting through Let Vineyarders Decide, together with our state representatives - obtained from Secretary Bowles agreement that relative to commercial wind factories to be proposed pursuant to the Oceans Act, the Martha's Vineyard Commission would be the final decider of applications for proposals off Nomans Land with appeals going to a court, not to a politically-appointed siting board.
It was further agreed by Secretary Bowles to consider the economic impact of the change to the vistas affected, as well as to consider bird data and the impact of the proposed plan on the Vineyard's fish and fisheries.
So why aren't we grateful? Because notwithstanding what has been agreed to (but not yet finalized), the Vineyard remains in the same peril by the state's continued proposal to develop a 66-turbine wind factory at Cuttyhunk.
For all the reasons it was a bad idea at Nomans Land, it is a bad idea at Cuttyhunk, with several additional reasons relating to Cuttyhunk's cultural and historic uses of the waters. We want the state's plan to treat the waters off Gosnold in the same manner as it treats the waters of Nomans Land, respectful of MVC's historic jurisdiction, with appeals to the courts.
Instead of responding to these concerns, Secretary Bowles is quoted as saying we are tilting at windmills, and the governor wonders how we could be so exercised about an area that was once used for target practice, notwithstanding that it is now a federally designated wildlife sanctuary and was never called a no-man zone.
What do we have to do to get their attention on the merits?
By continued vigorous attention. By not being cowed or deterred by ignorant, primitive, vitriolic personal attacks.
By repeating the facts over and over again the litany of oft-expressed concerns: the Vineyard and Gosnold (including Cuttyhunk) have been planned by the state to be the sole hosts of a world-sized industrial wind turbine facility that disregards the ecologic and economic costs and other detriments to the cultures of the various peoples who live here, birds, fish and fisheries, navigation and Island life generally.
Let Vineyarders Decide renews its call to allow Vineyarders (with others, of course) to make development decisions that have dramatic impact on the Vineyard.
Further, any plan must be responsive and responsible regarding the waters that surround us and all that depends on them for sustenance.
Let Vineyarders Decide