Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Last week I took my car to one of the licensed inspection places on the Island for its annual inspection. The man who inspected the car told me it had failed the emissions test. A failure sticker was on the windshield. I asked what was wrong, to which he replied that it didn't even register on the emissions machine, that the exhaust system was rusted and had holes all the way up to the front. I don't know whether or not he relied solely on his visual inspection with the car on the ground since it had not been put on a lift. I asked what I could do about it. He said to make an appointment and they would fix it.
The report was marked "Exhaust System Visual - Fail." In another place "Exhaust System Function - Fail." Listed on the report were Local Registered Emissions Repair Shops. This place was not on the list. Something seemed fishy about the manner in which I was told the "problem." Also, I knew that a licensed inspection place is not allowed to repair what it reports is wrong.
The mechanic who regularly takes care of the car inspected it underneath, ran the motor and said he could find nothing wrong. So I took it to another licensed inspection place where it underwent strenuous testing and was found to be just fine. The car was passed. It always helps to get a second opinion.
It is both surprising and deeply disturbing to think that such shady business is practiced on the Vineyard. I thought caveat emptor could be put in storage on this beloved Island.
County government study needs
To the Editor:
It has been 15 years since I was elected to serve on the county charter commission. But many years before that I had discovered what Boston's Great and General Court thought of this Island and whatever passed for the people of it. In every single instance we came off as a kind of delightful joke, a haven for celebrities, enriched by the taxes of the wealthy, and in general - out of touch with the real world.
One of the most pressing tasks for the charter commission was to see that our critical public decisions and design of public services would be made on a regional basis - not by absentee landlords in Boston.
At no time was this more evident than when New Bedford's finest tried to sail off with our transportation system, moving the Island 15 miles more out to sea. After an heroic effort on our part, Judge Kass and his committee saw that Islanders were people just like those on the mainland. We were able to reach a less compromised, if not perfect, ferry system.
Is there a legislator still around who has the slightest idea of what that was all about? Or anything of our lives here? I doubt it. As a deliberative body its first responsibility is to its collective electorate. As for the outlying provinces, its learning curve has been (and will always be) secondary - and usually inadequate. That is one reason we have the Martha's Vineyard Commission. It took some doing to wrest our economic and ecologic integrity from Boston's hoary business-as-usual seraglio of patronage.
In shaping the form of our county government, our commission was primarily concerned with those local needs and services that fell between the towns, and had been regularly mismanaged at the state level. We also offered the Island a format that could be improved as experience dictated. The Island understood and made a wise choice at the polls.
What now? Aside from Ted Stanley's apt comment (that county problems recently identified may be human rather than locked into a format) this is a good time to find out if changes are needed. The members of the commission that designed the county structure were elected. Some of them had valuable political experience; others brought expertise in a number of disciplines. While the input of persons regularly charged with political responsibilities is essential, the task of re-evaluating the character of this level of government needs to be done by a fully representative body chosen for the task. They could be elected, or carefully appointed with this in mind.
To abandon our regional format for government services will mean automatically surrendering an important sector of our independence and the quality of our lives to Beacon Hill. To leave the decision up to those Islanders who have been elected to serve for other (i.e. political) reasons, and without structured (mandatory) input from the rest of us would justify the off-Island opinion that we are 1) naive; 2) apathetic; and 3) incompetent.
To the Editor:
I would like to thank and congratulate the West Tisbury selectmen for taking the official first step in reviewing our county government. Their invitation to all the Island's selectmen was a great success. However, I was not surprised that Chilmark did not send a representative, and in fact I made $5, as I had bet they would be the only town not to send a representative.
For many years now I have been keeping a very close eye on our county government and have seen so much abuse, arrogance, flip-flopping, mismanagement, and I cannot leave out police investigations of criminal wrong doing. I believe the time has finally come to abolish this form of our government, as they have had plenty of warnings in the past to clean up their acts, but have just simply ignored that advice and just went on their usual arrogant business as usual attitude and dug us deeper into debt, embarrassment, and trouble.
MVTV has provided us citizens with a great service by putting their meetings on channel 15. To watch them operate is a total shame, especially once they forget the camera is on and we can really see how each individual acts. A picture says a thousand words; well, videotape is so much better.
Very rarely do both our Island newspapers agree on anything but concerning this body they do, and one describes our county commission as an "empty shell", an "expensive hoax" whose principle is to grow larger and cost more.
So many newcomers to the Island have no clue just who some of these players are here, so here is some public information on just a few of them. Robert Sawyer, my town's supposed representative, in 1996 became the first person in our town's history to face a recall election. While serving as chairman of our finance committee he was our town's biggest tax debtor owing us more than $38,000. Then assistant district attorney Fred Long at that time found that Mr. Sawyer and his committee had violated the open meeting law when it used secret ballots to form a blue ribbon committee. Mr. Sawyer was also accused of illegally calling executive sessions to discuss his personal business and obstructing access to documents and tape recordings from meetings. As county commissioner he has not talked to our selectmen on any issues as he has publicly]stated, he has also not attended any of our selectmen's meetings or our town meetings, and on numerous occasions he has publicly attacked our selectmen.
We have another commissioner who has a habitual reputation for verbally insulting and abusing some of our Island's selectmen, private citizens, and also county employees. He was also the infamous Carol Borer's biggest supporter while she was destroying our Island when she was serving as our county manager. We are still feeling the effects of her stint here.
I would not allow my daughter to associate with any of these people, and I sure don't want any of them representing me or our Island anymore. If any citizens are interested in forming a citizens committee to follow the all Island selectmen's lead feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Citizens of our Island now have a perfect opportunity to finally be heard on this long overdue issue.
Governor and mayor were responsible
To the Editor:
The primary responsibility for the disaster response in Louisiana fell to Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and other local officials. The fact that needs repeating and more important, remembered, is that state and local governments have primary responsibility in dealing with local disasters. FEMA was created in 1979 to coordinate and focus federal response to major disasters to "assist" local and state governments. First responders and manpower to deal with emergencies come from local communities, police, fire and medical. In addition to local responders, every state has a National Guard. State National Guards answer to the governor of each state. The National Guard exists primarily for emergencies like the one we have witnessed in N.O. and in other areas affected by Katrina. Both the law and protocol prohibit the president from ordering military troops into a state without a formal request from the governor of the affected state.
N.O. had over a 48 hour warning that a major Category 4 or 5 would make landfall near the city. Local officials did little to prepare. Gov. Blanco didn't effectively deploy the state's National Guard, N.O. city leaders did almost nothing to evacuate the portion of the population with no transportation, not following their own evacuation plan. Former N.O. Mayor Marc Morial stated that the disaster in N.O. was foreseeable. In fact, N.O. has long known that such a disaster could take place if a major hurricane hit the city. They even prepared their own "City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan." The plan made it evident that N.O. knew that evacuating the civilian population was the responsibility of the city, not the federal government.
The city document is clear, the decisions involving a proper and orderly evacuation lie with the governor, mayor and local authorities. The president or federal government are never mentioned.
The city's plan also specifically called for the use of city owned buses and school buses to evacuate the population. They were never deployed, A.P. Photos show hundreds of busses left in parking lots abandoned. This plan was written well before Katrina, but was never implemented by state or local leaders.
Louisiana Gov. Blanco's decision to take responsibility for her state's inadequate response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster followed an inadvertent confession that was caught on camera where Gov. Blanco admitted she blew it. "I really should have called for the military," she said, while talking with her press secretary in between TV interviews. Unknown to Gov. Blanco, her acknowledgment was recorded on a network satellite feed. Most observers blamed the White House. In her speech to the Louisiana legislature, where earlier she and her aides openly blamed the Bush administration for bungling Katrina rescue efforts, Gov. Blanco announced, "The buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility." Just as surprising were Blanco's words of praise for the White House, "I want the people of Louisiana to know that we have a friend and a partner in President George W. Bush. I thank you, Mr. President." Remember there's always two sides to every story.
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to the honorable Edgartown selectmen:
I receive mail at the Church Street Post Office Branch in Edgartown, and I am very pleased with the friendly and efficient service I receive there. However, the situation at the Main Post Office has gotten worse.
On August 5, I traveled to Vermont for a four-week stay. I requested the Main Edgartown Post Office to forward my mail to the local post office c/o general delivery for three weeks then hold my mail at my branch for the next week so I would have mail when I returned. I used the proper form. I did this last summer also and received the forwarded mail. I left Vermont September 1 to return to the Vineyard having never received any forwarded mail.
Before leaving the Vineyard I had gone into the Gazette office and requested the paper be sent directly to my Vermont address (same address as I had given to the Edgartown Post Office). I received the Gazette regularly, receiving the August 5 issue on August 10. I received the Gazette regularly receiving the August 23 issue on August 27 (the last issue I had requested sent to my Vermont address).
At the same time a West Tisbury friend who traveled to the same location requested her mail be forwarded from the West Tisbury Post Office. On August 10, she began receiving her forwarded mail and regularly received her mail thereafter. The same West Tisbury friend mailed a deposit to a West Tisbury bank on August 17. It was deposited August 19 and the receipt was mailed to her West Tisbury address. The West Tisbury Post Office forwarded the receipt on August 24 and it arrived at the Vermont post office August 26.
The Gazette published on August 19 a letter that they had received in time for that edition. The June letter had been mailed and postmarked in Edgartown and according to the postmarked date had taken eight weeks to deliver.
On September 2, my first day back on the Vineyard, I went to the Church Street Branch and was told I had no mail and to go to the Main Post Office at the Triangle. The Main Post found two letters for me (one of which was a credit card offer). When I said I had not received any mail for a month, I was told they did not know where my mail was.
I respectfully request the Edgartown selectmen to investigate this government agency located in Edgartown that is so essential to our life and business which as a service is near a non-functioning or collapsed state. I feel it is unfair for the citizens of Edgartown to be singled out for this treatment when other Vineyard towns have fully functioning and efficient post offices.
With bills having deadlines in which to be paid, notices which have a date to respond to and checks which need to be deposited, I submit that our local post office has ceased to perform the service it is mandated to.
Again, I request the Edgartown selectmen to examine this government agency with the result that it perform its stated service in a timely and efficient manner.
Live and let live
To the Editor:
The biplanes that make John Hughes cranky are as much a harbinger of spring to me as the return of the osprey. Please keep in mind that Mr. Hughes lives in Vineyard Haven. I live across Herring Creek Road from the Katama Airport.
I listen to the planes taking off and landing all day, every day, and it is music to my ears. They are as much a part of summer as the birds, flowers and tourists. Now if I were to complain about anything, it would be those noisy powerboats zooming in and out of Edgartown harbor. But - what the hey - live and let live.