Letters to the Editor
Expenses must be closely examined
To the Editor:
It was heartwarming to attend the meeting January 14 at the Oak Bluffs Library meeting room, where for those interested there was a presentation and discussion about town finances and the budget proposed for next year. It was notable that revenue is expected to shrink and that all expense items looked for increases over the current year. It was particularly notable that not one of these hoped-for increases was supported by a proponent with the courage to make a personal explanation and appeal.
Our financial situation in town is well known and has been for some time. But neither was any expenditure area of the town represented by anyone who might have provided knowledgeable ideas or suggestions for potential economies or reductions. The audience was left floundering and clutching at straws, and in such a mood will be far more likely to take a meat axe approach to the town budget when it comes up at town meeting.
Doubtless every town department has grown over recent years, little by little and hardly noticeable at the time. This incrementalism over the years was manageable because revenues were ample to cover the increases. But the recent jolt in the general economy also has jolted town revenues, leaving choices among finding new revenues in a depressed year, and/or doing without the budget increases inexplicably asked for, if not exacting significant reductions in current budget items.
Life does not go forever onward and upward for everyone; the rising tide usually floats all vessels together, but when times are difficult and mooring lines are necessarily short, some snagged cables will cause some vessels to founder. It would be sad to see this happen to our citizens who may already be on shortened cables and be driven out of town and off the Island, should simply the easy way of fee and tax increases be seeming to resolve the problem. Political leaders habitually like to say yes, but now is the time to have to learn to say no.
Perhaps it is time for the town leadership to take initiatives to see that the town budget eventually to be proposed at town meeting be not another wish list but a thoughtful and essential document reflective of current economic times.
Town meeting floor is hardly the place to hash out details but rather to contemplate what should be a responsible and rational document.
John M. Boardman
Tribute to her coach
To the Editor:
I write this letter from England, thousands of miles from the tightly knit community which our Island holds dear. Since leaving the Island, I can say I completely understand how special the Vineyard is and how lucky I was to grow up on it. What has become most apparent, though, is that a community is only as strong as the members within it. It's easy to not get involved, so the people that become valuable, contributing members must really be recognized for their positive impact on this community.
I entered MVRHS in 1999 and played for Sam Sherman and the varsity girls hockey team in its first year as a varsity sport. Prior to that, I played youth hockey from third grade on and was allowed to play on the girls team as well in its early years from sixth grade on. Sam knew girls would love hockey, but they just needed an opportunity to get out and play. It was clear from the beginning that all he wanted to do was get a new demographic to love the game that he so obviously did.
Sam's commitment to making our team a real one was unwavering. From the warm-up suits we had for away games, to our team dinners, to off-ice and early morning practice, to building our own locker room, it was clear Sam wanted us to be legitimate on and off the ice. He would pour over videos of past games in preparation for the new season, and if I saw him in the off season, the topic of conversation would always drift to the season to come. He undoubtedly was more committed than most of us ever were.
Here was someone without a daughter on the team and no real benefit to be gained from coaching it. But he advocated for us in the male-dominated hockey community, getting us a board with our names on it just like the boys and making sure we got similar ice time. We unfortunately lost most of our games, playing teams which had girls who, similar to me, had grown up playing ice hockey, while we had some girls who had never put a skate on before! How could Sam not have let the frustration of all his hard work not paying off in the form of wins get to him? If you were privy to Sam interacting with our team for one minute, it would have been obvious: Sam loved ice hockey and all he wanted was for a new group of people to be exposed to and have the opportunity to love it as well.
The ocean that surrounds us, keeping our Island the unique and beautiful place it is, also isolates us. The population that can live on the Vineyard and come to it is not boundless; it's limited by the ferry, land, and income. We must understand that and really recognize the people that are active members of this special community. I'm far removed from Island politics, but the apathy that runs rampant in my generation has not consumed me to the point that I would let a pivotal member of this community - of my life - leave the limelight without his just recognition.
As a member of the team from the beginning and a captain as an upperclassman, I hope I can speak for the girls who I played with and say thank you to Sam. Our winters would not have been filled with nearly as many laughs and smiles, weekends would never have had as many bus trips, New Year's Days would not have been spent at morning practice, and we may never have met this individual who selflessly gave his time so that we would have the opportunity to play a game that he loved so much.
To the Editor:
I live on Martha's Vineyard and have for some 60 years, but I also live in Florida. On the Vineyard, as we all know, much of the workforce is Brazilian, but here in southern Florida, it is Haitian.
They are the people who have come to America for a better life, in the pursuit of happiness, as guaranteed us in the Constitution, a promise of hope and a better life. That is what our country has been about for so very long - the promise, the promise that life will be better. Let us never forget that. Let us never feel entitled, let us walk in others' shoes who are not so fortunate as we.
Yes, I am fortunate enough to live in Florida during the winter months, but my heart is always on the Vineyard. Living here, I have a maid and her name is Maria. She comes for two hours a week at $15 an hour. I speak second grade French, and she speaks first grade English.
We do a great deal of sign language. She is, without a doubt, the most happy, smiley, Miss Prissy, straight from Gone with the Wind, but only a Haitian version. Marie hugs my grandson when he comes to visit, and it is a hug from the heart. She hugs my dog, and again, it is a hug from the heart. Marie has no hidden agenda.
When the earthquake hit, the next morning, Marie was in the lobby of this condo, doing what she always does, mopping the floor. I asked her, "Any word?" No word.
The next day, again, I hug her and ask, "Any word?" No word.
The next day, I go back into the storage rooms and find her and - all are dead, except for one tante (aunt).
I have watched Marie recoil into herself.
Desperate for communication, I emailed a Vineyard friend who speaks fluent French, who is now in Paris (thank heavens for email). She would translate and then I would write to Marie.
Can anyone of you imagine losing your family and then all of your town or city that was once known to you?
My heart bleeds for this woman, who most call a maid, but she had a family and a place she called home. One never can rid themselves of the past memories of home, or of family. Marie has gone from the smiley and always enthusiastic woman, who was happiness personified, to a woman who shows no life, no verve, no happiness.
Haiti needs help. I have questions. Why is it that Dubai, the wealthiest country on the face of the earth, has not jumped in? We buy oil from them. It's just a question.
Vineyard Haven and Florida
To the Editor:
Does anyone remember when you could access your post office box at the Vineyard Haven Post Office on the weekends and evenings? Remember how nice it was to be able to check your mailbox? As I recall, that all changed after 9/11.
Recently, I spent enough time in Redlands, Calif., to justify opening a post office box there. Nothing special, pretty much like every other post office in these United States. I mean it shouldn't be too surprising since the United States Postal Service is, after all, a federal agency. Well, maybe, maybe not.
While in Redlands over the Christmas holiday, one of my great moments of pleasure was going to the post office and finding a key in my mailbox. That key opened one of many bigger boxes in the lobby, where I found a Christmas gift package from my dear and most thoughtful friend Clara Kennedy. Wow, well that was very special, warming, and pleasant surprise.
A very different surprise was to discover that the Redlands post office lobby is open 24 hours a day, and finding that I could actually take delivery of a package without having to wait interminably in line for a counter agent to trundle off to the back bowels of the facility and search for my package. In this same post office, I also noted the rather clever innovation of a light mounted in the lobby which when illuminated signifies that all the first class mail for that day has been sorted. Now that's customer service.
So, if they can do those things there, couldn't we do them here? It would be nice, wouldn't it?
Tisbury and West Tisbury
Try it out
To the Editor:
I agree with Mary Rapoza's letter of January 14, in regard to the new temporary drawbridge ("Bridge enough"). Why indeed do we need to spend millions of dollars to replace it with another one? It certainly looks sturdy. According to last week's Times, the bridge committee didn't want the permanent bridge where the temporary one is "because it would require sharp turns going on and off the structure." Really? It doesn't seem sharp to me. Why don't we try it out for a few years before spending the money on another one, and see what we think?
A heroine late in life
To the Editor:
Two little girls sat under my Christmas tree. One turned four a few days before Christmas, and the little one is one and a half. Their eyes were filled with wonder at the elaborate tree decorations. The tree lights turned their eyes electric. Who are these beautiful little creatures in their holiday finery?
I have two sons and a grandson. I was destined to be with boys. I love boys.
My grandson was in high school when the news came. We had a little girl. I had a granddaughter. I had no experience with girls - you must do the same things and play the same games, etc. Ohhh - was I in for a surprise. First of all, it was all the clothes, then as she grew into a toddler, there was a femininity about her. She walked on her toes, and her hands looked like mine. I used to sit and watch her. She moved like a girl, laughed like a girl.
When this darling child was almost three, her baby sister was born. By now I was thoroughly experienced in pink, in dresses, in ruffles, in dolls, and in girly-girly things.
I rushed off to the hospital to meet the "new girl." There she lay in a little bed next to her mommy. A stunningly beautiful little baby, so lovely, so perfect, such a miracle. Tiny, tiny little fingers, a little mouth so like a pink rosebud. Then suddenly she opened her eyes. I wasn't ready for it. I thought I knew blue, but I guess I never did, until that moment.
God is such a wonderful artist. How does He make these most beautiful little girl faces, and how did he know to send them into my life to grandmother them? What a gift. My heart is filled with love for them, and I couldn't imagine life without them or my grandson.
So, now I play Princesses, Store, Dress Up, Balloon Chase, Spinning, and more.
I am 19 years older than when my grandson was born. I'm slower, with bad knees, poor feet and terrible balance, but I'm determined to play with these little girls as I did with my grandson.
Recently, someone said so me, "You shouldn't be spinning, you're too old, you're going to fall." Hmmm.
Not long ago, after a spin game, my three-year-old said to me, "Nanabelle, you're the best spinner of all." Aha. At that moment I knew I wasn't too old or that my legs couldn't take it or whatever. I was just voted the "Best Spinner of All" from the only judge that mattered.
One day, her mom came to pick me up for an express trip to Dairy Queen. As I climbed into the van, my granddaughter said, "Wow, you look beautiful." No boy would ever say that. Matter of fact, at my age, no one else ever says that.
So, if you're an older grandmother with aches and pains, try spinning with a little grandchild. I guarantee your pains will go away - the laughing will cure your aches - I promise. That is why God sent these magical little creatures to you and me.
I talk to lots of grandparents. I'm one of them, but just because we're older, doesn't mean our main topic of conversation is always health care, the economy, knees, wrinkles, gray hair, no hair, etc.
I'm writing this so all senior grandparents will know this is one of the best parts of your life, these little children make it so. On your end - do fun things. I wear lots of ting-a-ling jewelry - this enchants them. I have glasses that blink on and off. I always have a large handbag that holds secret treasures. You also have to believe in magic, in elves, in fairies, in Santa and in the Easter Bunny.
Have fun and laugh a lot, that's what you're here for.
I wrote this because the news is so dreary, so scary, so upsetting, but the thing that makes me so happy are these little people who come running and screaming your name when you go to visit them. Be involved with them, play with them, know when the next Disney DVD comes out - you'll be their hero.
Isabel M. Engley
Oak Bluffs and Cumberland, R.I.
Cape Wind, all wrong
To the Editor:
It appears that the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is leaning toward permitting the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. This is a sign that he must not realize what a public safety nightmare it will turn out to be and why it has been delayed for nine years.
This is not about views. This is about the threat of a turbines as long as football fields spinning out of control in a highly populated area. It is not unknown for a turbine blade to fly off the base. The first major American wind power project should be located in an environment that has minimal human traffic, this is not. Nantucket Sound is a major water and airway for ships, ferries, planes and boats transporting millions of people each year.
It should be cost effective, this is not, forcing home owners to pay untold increases in electric bills.
It should respect the existence of established industries, this does not.
Horseshoe Shoal is one of the finest commercial fishing sites on the East Coast.
Cape Wind should be built in waters that are rightfully leased or owned, this is not. Cape Wind has grabbed the land by pre-empting and circumventing the regulation of federal waters. It should be built in uncontested waters, this is not. The Wampanoag tribe has historic claims to the land under the waters of Horseshoe Shoal.
Cape Wind is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Dressed up as "green," in truth it is just one more example of dangerous industrialization in an overpopulated area. For the first major wind power project in the nation, we deserve one that can be upheld as a fine example to the rest of the world. Cape Wind is not that one.
More Morning Glory
To the Editor:
The letter from Edward Klien of Edgartown was a shock in terms of misstatements and hyperbole, from my perspective. What must he think a farm is if Morning Glory Farm is not one? Maybe because it is not heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars like many of the "big" ones? We need more like MGF, not the big ones that often survive only by subsidy.
I know from talking with them that they, as a farm, are allowed to sell bought product in addition to their own, and they sell a lot of their own. And I know MGF contributed to the bike path that runs along Meshacket Road right now. And I know many landscapers take leaves and grass to MGF for composting. MGF is a model, to me, of a local business fighting hard to both survive and lead us to a much better way of farming and eating. We need more of them.
To the Editor:
Massoud Kohistani of Afghanistan arrived in the United States five yrs ago at the age of 15. He was chosen among many to qualify for the Cultural Bridge Program, founded by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. This program was designed to bring students from Afghanistan, for the first time in history, to our country for one year, to learn the principles of democracy.
My family's involvement was unplanned and truly unexpected. While Massoud was training in Kyrgyzstan to assimilate into the American culture, the family that had committed to host him withdrew, leaving him without support and housing. My daughter Kara, who worked for American Council in D.C, told me of Massoud's plight. Shamefully, I admit I did not know where Afghanistan was or anything about its culture, and the timing could not have been worse. What I did know then, and what I do know now is that it's one thing not to volunteer for service, but when God puts a request for service in one's direct path, well let's just say I did not want to go on record as saying no.
Massoud arrived at the Martha's Vineyard airport frightened and frail, in need of extensive medical and dental care. He spoke little English, and his disadvantaged past presented him guarded and insecure in his new surroundings. With love and patience and the constant companionship of my son David, and the support of my husband and five children, and friends, Massoud began to thrive.
Massoud was enrolled in the high school. He possessed a burning desire to learn, achieve and succeed. He mastered the English language, received honors grades, and participated in school sports and in many social and community service events. Massoud touched the hearts and souls of his teachers, his host family and the community. Many articles were written about his challenges and successes.
Sadly, as agreed when the year ended, Massoud returned to Afghanistan to complete high school and meet new challenges returning to a country in turmoil. Because of his achievements in the U.S., he was chosen the next year to prepare the new students preparing to enter America. Massoud completed his studies and remained a top student in Afghanistan.
We have kept in constant communication with Massoud these past five years, and it has been challenging. Calls accepted are often sporadic and interrupted. Email has been difficult because of limited access to computers and destructive bombings by the Taliban directed to limit communication. During this time, Massoud has had only one goal: to return to the United States to further his education. I have diligently pursued every avenue these past five years to help Massoud achieve his dream. There have been many obstacles and disappointments during this venture, but we have never given up hope.
One month ago we received word that Bunker Hill Community College in Boston is willing to enroll Massoud. A plethora of documents and appeals collected over the past years were accumulated and submitted, and last month Massoud was granted his visa to return to the United States. Our reunion with the son of our heart has been life-changing.
As you know, a young man Massoud's age is in great danger in Afghanistan. Again, my family knew we needed to respond.
Our family situation is greatly changed since Massoud was with us five years ago. My husband is a casualty of the recession and has been unemployed for two and a half years. Our youngest son David is a junior in college, and although I am working full time as a hospice nurse, our finances are stretched to the limit. But how could we say no?
Because Massoud is not a citizen, he is not eligible for any college financial aid. And so the purpose of this letter: my family will enthusiastically provide housing, food, clothing, and daily living expenses for Massoud but will need assistance to pay his tuition . Massoud will be obtaining a student work permit and will obtain a job through the work study program.
So with humility and a determined resolve I have set up a college fund for Massoud. There is no contribution too small, as this is going to be an uphill battle. All contributions are tax deductible. Massoud Kohistani College Fund, PO Box 785, Vineyard Haven MA 02568. ID # 61-1608193.
Additionally, I ask that you send this correspondence to others that may be willing to help.