to the Editor
Tisbury leaders: "shortsighted and irresponsible"
To the Editor:
Gridlock. That is what Vineyard Haven has to offer this summer, thanks to the Tisbury Selectmen’s stubborn and ill-conceived refusal to provide any police services for traffic management around Water Street.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2003, SSA customers paid Tisbury $46,198 from their fares to foot the entire bill for police services during the summer, and traffic flowed rather freely through Vineyard Haven that year. But in 2004, the Tisbury Selectmen refused to assign any policemen to traffic duty in the area during the summer, despite the fact that SSA customers paid Tisbury over five times that amount ($267,702) from their fares that year to be used “solely” for the purpose of “mitigating the impacts of ferry service” on the town. The Selectmen made the same decision this summer, even though SSA customers already have paid Tisbury $93,441 through June 2005 – and are paying more each and every day – for the same purpose.
What are SSA customers getting from the Tisbury Selectmen in return for the hundreds of thousands of “mitigation” dollars they are paying to the town? Nothing whatsoever. By contrast, the towns of Oak Bluffs and Nantucket, which similarly receive money from SSA customers under the new “ferry passenger embarkation fee” statute, use that money to mitigate the most serious and obvious impact of the SSA’s ferry service – traffic.
By their own shortsighted and irresponsible actions, the Tisbury Selectmen are ensuring that, sooner or later, frustrated travelers will be able to convince a judge that this new embarkation fee is in fact an unlawful tax instead of a legitimate fee for services provided. Thus, ultimately everyone will lose – not only Tisbury businesses and Tisbury taxpayers, but the rest of us as well.
As so many other times this summer, the snarl of traffic was simply unbearable in Vineyard Haven this past Monday afternoon. In an effort to help, an SSA employee ventured into the street and directed motorists himself. Problem solved, or so it seemed at the time. The next day, however, the SSA was informed by the Tisbury Police Chief that if the employee repeated his actions, he would be subject to arrest for disorderly conduct. Might I suggest that a far more appropriate response from any responsible public official would have been to thank the employee for trying to deal with a serious traffic problem caused by Tisbury’s own refusal to fulfill its public duties, and then to assign a police officer to address this inexcusable situation once and for all.
Martha’s Vineyard Member
Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority
Joe from Pitcairn
To the Editor:
To my friends on the Vineyard, I have been so busy cooking on the tall ship the Picton Castle, on its fourth circumnavigation, that I haven’t had the time to write and thank everyone who helped make this adventure possible for me — fellow contractors, business people, and friends who encouraged me to take this job when it was offered this spring. I only hope you all weren’t trying to get rid of me. Thanks to one and all.
I was compelled to take the position of chief cook and steward for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to be a representative of the Island sailing community on this worldwide voyage. The Island made a sailor out of me, or rather a sea cook, and I had to re-up on my subscription. So I am presently on Pitcairn Island, and we are headed to French Polynesia in a few days. Pitcairn reminds me of home, except there are less boats, one every few months, and there isn’t even one movie house. The islanders’ economy revolves around the occasional passing ship. Most people here do some form of arts and crafts to sell to passengers they encounter. This place is perhaps the most isolated inhabited place on the planet.
After working 80-hour weeks feeding a hungry crew of 50 since mid-April, the skipper gave me shore leave here on this exotic island for the entire time we have been here. So of course, I miss everyone, but to call yourself a sailor I guess you need to go to sea. We have had a great time, and all along the way there seem to be reminders of my adopted home, most recently when we passed almost within shouting distance of Henderson Island, where supposedly some of the crew from the Essex ended up, and before that going through the Panama Canal, where one of my Island friend’s great grandfather worked as an engineer. No T-shirts yet though.
So if you want to contact me, if I owe you money or if a CD I sold you doesn’t play, or I forgot to finish your roof before I left, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise thank you MV for making me a sailor.
Steamin, screamin, mean joe keenan (My sea cook nom de guerre)
S/V Picton Castle
To the Editor:
We’d like to thank John W. Grandy (of the Humane Society of the United States) for his recent written criticisms in the Boston Globe of the Monster Shark Tournament. For those among us who are disturbed by the inherent violence of the tournament, his eloquence in defining the issue is greatly appreciated. Without his words, the opinions of aquatic biologist and self-appointed shark expert Greg Skomal, and Martha’s Vineyard Times fishing columnist Nelson Sigelman might have been left unexamined.
Now, however, the fact that sharks have a slow reproductive rate (which makes them vulnerable to depletion) has been added to the dialogue. Thus, even if one were not appalled by the gleeful violence perpetrated against these sharks in this tournament, one might be distressed to learn of the damage being done to such a fragile population.
In addition, Mr. Grandy’s essay helps to highlight the arrogance of both Mr. Skomal’s and Mr. Sigelman’s recent responses to the controversy. Greg Skomal’s blatant disregard for the negative impact of the MST is at once irresponsible and reprehensible. Sensing a lack of other credible and vocal resources for information, Mr. Skomal took advantage of the temporary void to use his air of authority not to educate the public, but rather to promote the tournament.
Mr. Sigelman, for his part, then further perpetuated the myth of shark as dangerous man-eater in his “Gone Fishin’ columns. Mr. Sigelman had an excellent opportunity (within his role as spokesperson for the fishing community) to set the record straight, but decided instead to address the issue with glib and sophomoric responses to the printed criticisms against the MST. Perhaps we could wish for a more mature and confident writer with whom to entrust the dissemination of facts, but for now we’re left with the aw-shucks-I’m-just-one-of-the-guys writing efforts of Mr. Sigelman.
But shouldn’t serious consideration be given to the consequences of engendering an environment of hatred toward sharks before a writer plays his audience for laughs. We think so, and we also believe that Mr. Sigelman is actually in danger of becoming lead member of the frat boy club he supposes to disdain. Of course, he is free to seek such membership, but not at the expense of a living creature.
Ultimately, the MST should be viewed for what it really is: a competition to kill sharks. All other purported benefits are simply rationalizations. Neither gaining information for research nor procuring food for the needy are the raison d’etre of the MST, but only palliative patches clumsily applied to a scar of violence.
We encourage others to share their outrage at the perpetuation of this tournament, so that the self-serving circular logic of the MST’s investors does not go unchallenged, and Martha’s Vineyard does not get further defined by the outside world as benefactors of irresponsible and callous aggression.
Humane influence called for
To the Editor:
The Humane Society of the United States, please use your clout to end the shark tournament. Man would sell his own soul if he thought he could turn a profit.
If man would only have more respect for God’s beautiful green earth and all its magnificent, wondrous creatures of the world, we would not need organic shark fertilizer or organizations such as Mass. Dept. of Marine Fisheries. Thank God for the Humane Society.
Deborah A. Johnson
A simple solution
To the Editor:
To all those who find themselves offended by the fishing columnist: Go soak your heads.
I only make it out to Martha’s Vineyard once or twice a year. I’m a public school teacher, and although I wish I could be on the Island more, it’s just not possible for me to be there as much as I would like. In order to assuage my feelings of longing, I often read the MVTimes online — and “Gone Fishin’” is always the first thing I read! To me, Seligman’s articles have the flavor of the Vineyard in them, and I can feel my mind slipping into a more Island-y mode even before I finish reading.
Do I always agree with everything he writes? No. I’m sure he’d consider me some kind of liberal nutjob. However, I always find him funny, and I’d be very sad indeed if someone “reeled in” his style. So just relax. If you don’t like what he writes, I have a good solution for you: don’t read his article. Simple, oui?
Hospice isn’t right
To the Editor:
I am finally getting my thoughts together to write. I am sorry that Hospice has let Cathy Brennan go. The reason is beyond me. I have never heard a bad word about her. She has always been there for me. I am a former volunteer. I took the Hospice training in the 1980s under the leadership of Cathy and Sara Isenberg. It was one of the best things I have done in my life to give some of my time. It was a great organization. I was proud to be a part of it. When my mother-in-law was at the end of her journey, I called Cathy. She came, and she was there for us until the day she went to heaven. Afterward, she was there for me as long as I needed her. Kathleen Fitzgibbon and Jean Hay resigned: [that] tells me something wasn’t right. I will hesitate to call when I need help in the future.
Cathy, Kathleen, and Jean Hay, I will miss you. Good luck. I will never forget you.
Tragedy should prompt action
To the Editor:
After reading about the accident at Scotchman’s Bridge Lane and State Road near the new Ag Hall, I realized that a number of years ago, I was involved in an accident at the same spot. I was stopped at the stop sign [on Scotchman’s Lane], heading toward the Ag Hall. A car across from me, heading east, stopped and then started to go, right into another car coming from the direction of Alley’s on State Road. The two cars crashed, spun, bounced and one crashed into my car. I knew the driver who had pulled out. She said that the other car had been right in her blind spot. How often have I stopped there and almost missed seeing a car coming to my right, in my blind spot. I was told at the time of the accident that other accidents have taken place at that intersection. Little wonder. Now, a truly tragic accident has occurred there. People are often quick to try to fix the blame instead of fixing the problem, I hope this won’t happen this time.
There must be various possibilities for making that intersection safer. Perhaps we should have a four-way stop there. Maybe we could have the road regraded in a way that would eliminate the possibility of cars falling into the blind spot of cars heading east. It should not have taken a tragedy of this magnitude to find a solution to this dangerous intersection, but since it has, the least we can do is try to fix it instead of blaming drivers and just hoping no one else gets hurt or killed there.
While we are focused on dangerous intersections up-Island, the area where State Road meets Old County Road is certainly another spot that could use some of our attention. It is a very confusing spot, especially for drivers that are not familiar with our roads. Is it possible to make that safer? For example, could it be a traffic pattern like one by the Square Rigger?
The inconvenience we all might experience would be far outweighed by the sadness of these tragedies if we do nothing.
County treasurer sets record straight
To the Editor:
Readers take notice. Don’t believe all that you read in our local papers. Two recent blatant errors cause me to write this letter.
Martha’s Vineyard Times: In the August 11, 2005, edition, on page 15, the paper reported that there are only three Massachusetts counties. Actually, there are six counties in Massachusetts (Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, and Plymouth). See www.mass.gov, click on government, and then counties.
Vineyard Gazette: In a page one story on August 9, 2005, Jim Kinsella, senior writer, incorrectly reported that an Oak Bluffs employee was applying to retire from the Barnstable County Retirement System. All permanent employees of all towns, and other municipal units within Dukes County, must belong to the Dukes County Contributory Retirement System, not the Barnstable County Retirement Association. Go online and search on “Dukes County Retirement.” One of the results is the system’s web page, then click on “Board Members” which has a list of all units of the system. Or call the local office.
Also, neither paper reports:
That the Vineyard Health Access Program is a county program. It is a wonderful organization born of the Dukes County Health Council. They recognized the need, put it together, and it is located in a county building in Oak Bluffs.
COMSOG is also located on county land in Oak Bluffs. For the use of this land they pay $50 per year and the cost of their water.
Noreen Mavro Flanders
What a way
to run a boatline
To the Editor:
After reading this you should shake your head in disgust at the current practices taking place within the steamship reservations offices. Here is my story.
On Monday, August 7, my friends, with auto ticket in hand, call the reservations office at 9 am for day of sail reservations. Reservations office says they have space on the 9:30 am boat. My friends ask to be booked since they are just five minutes from the boat right here in Vineyard Haven. Reservations office says sorry, you must call us one hour before departure time. We cannot book you on this boat. We have space after 6 pm this evening.
My friends say they will come and do leave for the terminal at 9:05 am.
Upon arrival at the terminal they are turned away because they do not have a reservation.
After a hassle and more phone calls to the reservations office they obtain space at noon and leave the Island with a sour taste in their mouths, saying that it will be a long time before they return to be treated this way.
Can you imagine the time taken by a reservations person to handle this kind of event just because of some rule saying a reservation cannot be confirmed unless it is one hour before departure? The time it takes a reservations person to discuss all of the rules governing travel is time taken away from others tying to get through to them. Thank God for redial on my phone, because on one occasion I hit redial 110 times before I got through. Am I alone in this respect? I think not.
Picture, if you will, a driver on I-195 in Providence, traveling at breakneck speed to reach the ferry without a reservation; he telephones on his cell phone and asks for the next ferry to the Vineyard, and because it is just one hour before departure he is confirmed. On the highway he is stalled at the Bourne Bridge and misses his boat.
At the Woods Hole Terminal, on the boat booked by the Providence driver, another driver asks for space to the Vineyard and is told the boat is full and today is a no-standby day.
In each case the boat leaves with less than a full load. Is this any way to run the steamship?
James C. Hart
To the Editor:
During my vacation, I spent many hours watching the people walk up and down the street in Oak Bluffs and was very concerned when a family walking down the street had to push a baby stroller out into the street in front of cars to get around puddles and large trucks parked in walkways.
On the main street in Oak Bluffs every day the car rental firm Sun & Fun washes its cars right there on the street, leaving behind very large puddles which people have to either walk around or walk through. To walk around, people must walk out into traffic, and by walking through, people ruin their shoes and spend their day walking in wet shoes.
When they are washing the cars, people are also forced to walk in the street because they are about to get sprayed by the hose or get wet from splatter from cars going through the many puddles left behind.
I also noticed that vehicles were allowed to park in front of the restaurant across the street, Nancy’s, also forcing people to walk out into the street to get around to the sidewalk near the bulkhead. I noticed the same truck parked there for three weeks, it didn’t move.
I think the owners of these establishments should be more concerned with the safety of the visitors who are there to spend money at the establishments on this main street in Oak Bluffs.
Everett E. Hudson Jr.
Coventry, Rhode Island
To the Editor:
You published a letter last week, withholding the writer’s name, “at the writer’s request.” The editorial column is a forum for comment from the community. Now that this precedent has been set, the accountability of the individual has been removed.
Editor’s Note: The Times publishes nearly every letter its editors receive. We require the name and contact information for every letter writer. Nearly every letter we publish appears above the writer’s name. But last week, as he has on a very few occasions in the past, the editor concluded that withholding the name of a writer was justified. We shall continue to require identification and publish letters over the correspondent’s signature, except in those few circumstances where anonymity may be warranted.
Thanks to the teachers
To the Editor:
I risk being called stupid by writing this letter, but I have something to say. My teachers told me never to lose faith in myself (Latina translation – “Confie en ti mismo). Actually, I meant to say my public school, free teachers. So, moving on to Gossip Gazette (what I like to call The Martha’s Vineyard Times – although I read it every week), I just wanted to say that during this time of year there are lots of wars going on. Nationalities, churches, economic levels are all bickering. The Old Ones (aka Vineyarders) wonder what happened – is the Vineyard going to survive? I have no answers and only one question. Do we appreciate the teachers that have given their lives for us on the Vineyard? I wish I could tell you all the stories I have about the teachers here. I don’t want to leave out anyone important but…The Beatles? Beavers and math and Puerto Rico? Beatniks? Personal stories (testimonies) about life lessons? A language? I’d risk being grateful and expressing myself in this way in order to catch people’s attention.
I want Andrea to know that I learned how to dance this weekend. Anyone that graduated two years in a row (‘01 or ‘02) knows what I mean. It was beautiful every time. So, risking a lot but at the same time not really anything, I first say, “A paz do Senhor.” Ask your Brazilian neighbors what that means – they’ll tell you about it. I secondly say God bless (I mean) thank you mis profesores. You helped to make me the strong, intelligent woman I am today. I hope this letter doesn’t get edited by the editor – does that make sense? Everyone reading: As much as war is frustrating – God bless America for the teachers.
To the Editor:
Since reading the letter, “Then, who should help?” in your newspaper a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking.
The writer makes a valid and extremely important point. Everyone who wishes, can donate to “causes.” I regret that my own letter, “Hypocrisy and housing,” (July 21), was openly misinterpreted.
Since my point about hypocrisy was perhaps misunderstood by others as well, I can illustrate it further by using the example of an actual experience. One day, a woman, a casual acquaintance, entered my unlocked house, uninvited, thinking I was not at home. I had heard her knocking, but not wanting unexpected company, I chose not to respond and remained upstairs. I then heard her come in, use my downstairs restroom and leave, making a derogatory remark about my house on her way out, still unaware that I was at home and could hear her.
For the sake of clarity, let’s make the unlikely assumption that this woman has repeatedly come into my home — when I actually have been out. Perhaps this approach to entitled abuse of people’s space is something she comfortably does all the time. If this were the case, and if she were to become an outspoken activist working to combat, say, home invasions (and posed for newspaper photos as such), that would be objectionable. And I would speak out about the hypocritical discrepancy between her private and public personae. If, on the other hand, she would want to contribute financially to an organization to prevent these crimes, that is, without question, her prerogative. Donate and let donate.
I don’t much care for the arrogant entitlement, disregard for others, and self-serving ostentation of a tiny minority, but when their private antics become damaging, flying in the face of their very public posturing and lecturing, I will object. Count on it.
Food for thought
To the Editor:
As I sat listening to David McCullough last evening at the Tabernacle, I couldn’t help but think the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society and in fact the Island of Martha’s Vineyard represent a history waiting to be told. And, in fact, Arthur Railton is doing just that, and with an introduction by David McCullough his work might be a fitting centerpiece to campaign for the funds to build the new historical center. I also noted David brings history to life so well with his comfortable oration, as well as the written word, that the centerpiece of the historical center should be more library than museum.
I would also offer that my understanding of the society’s treasure chest lies more in its library and pictorial collection than in artifacts, which suggests the historical center would be better with emphasis on the library. Since the educational mission of the society will also depend heavily on the written and pictorial history of the Vineyard, centering on the library and using artifacts as “spice” would be preferred.
I would further offer that David stated that the best way to convey history is via storytelling, which would be enhanced by making a library the central theme of society. I believe “telling the Vineyard story” would be more attractive to potential fundraising than building a facility for artifacts. “History Center” rather than “Museum” would also have a certain flair that could attract Islanders’ artifacts and visiting exhibits.
One final point should be considered. Developing the case for donations to an historical center for Martha’s Vineyard has to do with Island real estate values. From 2000 through 2004, the latest date for which “assessed real estate values” are available, the value of land and buildings on the Vineyard has increased by over $10 billion, which translates into $40 million a week. My recollection is $40 million would go a long way toward underwriting the investment in an historical center worthy of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. Another way to view a $40 million investment in our Island’s history is it’s 1/200th of the increased value of Vineyard real estate during the past five years, or in the 21st century so far.
It might even be argued that the towns on the Vineyard could contribute a share of the investment by holding the tax rate constant next year, and designate the surplus to a fund for the preservation of the Island’s history in the Historical Society. This is quite consistent with the passage of the Community Preservation Act by each of the Vineyard towns. Building an historical center using both public and private funds would be a fitting tribute to David McCullough, who has done so much to reinvigorate the nation’s interest in its heritage.
I trust this provides some useful food for thought on David’s talk Saturday evening.
Cat’s death brings Cindy Sheehan to mind
To the Editor:
My cat died last week.
I think she knew it was time to go. Gumbie had been part of my life nearly 20 years, a comfortable companion even if she whined a bit. I miss her.
I wonder how parents of children who died in Iraq deal with their loss. Was the death in vain? How tragic to lose a child, especially through an act of aggression against a people who want to end our occupation.
I empathize with Cindy Sheehan, holding vigil for the president to answer her plea to bring the soldiers home. She puts a face on the families of the 1,847 soldiers killed in Iraq. And for what?
At least I know my cat Gumbie died in peace.
To the Editor:
Now that we have learned that Karl Rove was the person who leaked C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame’s name to the press, if this administration is to keep its trend going, he must be due a promotion. My suggestion: how about head of the department of creationism?
Join the fight
To the Editor:
I’ve written this story before; it’s déjà vu. It’s a tale I don’t like telling, because it threatens each and every woman and even some men. Of course, I’m speaking of the dreaded disease breast cancer.
When it strikes close to home, as it has once again in the case of astrologer Barbara Ivacek of West Tisbury, it gives pause, a moment to reflect on how a vibrant, laughing, bike riding, adventuresome woman can be laid low.
But our questions of why, or how could this happen to the quintessential Earth Mother — which Barbara has always represented — will never be answered. As a friend and former Jesuit priest has often said: Live the mystery. And the mystery of illness, no matter how technologically advanced our medical system becomes, will always remain.
Barbara is a familiar face on the Island. She worked at the Black Dog in the early days, before taking the plunge into doing astrological readings. Her career blossomed into more than full-time work, and whatever time was left over she spent traveling, exploring the world. Barbara is a people person and I have watched her in action as she listens and charms even those who don’t speak her language.
Over the past ten years the silent malignancy has grown and she not only had breast cancer once, but twice. Barbara is currently fighting for her life with bone, liver, and lung cancer. She is hospitalized in Vancouver, Canada, where she and her husband, Michael Smith, live.
To all those who have wondered why she has not returned your calls, the reason is: she can’t and will not be able to this summer.
If you would like to send her a card this is her address: Barbara Ivacek, Patient, Vancouver General Hospital, 899 West 12th Ave., Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9.
Since there are too many inquiries for Michael to respond to, he asks that you accept his heartfelt thanks for the kind words, flowers, prayers, and cards.
If you would like to participate in distant healing for Barbara, please contact me at email@example.com.
Wendy Arnell Brophy
San Francisco, Calif