Letters to the Editor
How they have served us well
To the Editor:
As most of the community knows, this month saw Ed Jerome, principal of the Edgartown School, retire after a quarter century of service to his community. In a few months, Peter Bettencourt will retire. These two individuals follow in the steps of several other dedicated Edgartown community members who recently stepped down from their positions: Ted Morgan, Gail Palacios, and Tom Durawa. What they all have in common is public service to this community — more than 100 years collectively — paid and unpaid, but nonetheless, public service. There may have been instances when you didn't necessarily agree with some of the positions they took, but one thing is undeniable: they all had passion for the community we live in, and because of that devotion, we, the community, have all benefited.
At the October school committee meeting, I gave a tribute to Ed. I believe it is appropriate to share my thoughts with others:
I could tell you about Ed's 25-plus years of success at the Edgartown School — his achievements, how Edgartown is perceived by the Island as a whole, of what Ed and his faculties have accomplished here —but we know the story. It really speaks for itself.
Instead, I would like to thank Ed for his years as a public servant. In his leadership role as an educator, Ed has had the responsibility of guiding the Edgartown's education ship through extraordinary change over the past 25 years. As all of us who are involved with education know, these are challenging times. Education has being trying to reinvent itself. Under the best of circumstances, it has been difficult.
Looking around at this new school building, we are filled with pride — after all, it's beautiful; it's exciting; it's a beacon for all of us, as we try to maintain the role of public education as the great leveler in our society. But, that's what it is — a building, with walls, a roof, doors, and corridors — just a building.
Over the past few years, business has taken me to over 16 states and nearly 100 different communities. They are some of the most under-served parts of our nation. In these communities, they have buildings, too. The difference is that in the majority of those buildings, opportunity is but a dream.
With the help of the taxpayers, parents, the community and faculties (past and present), Ed has always made sure that the Edgartown School has been a house of opportunity. We are indebted to him for doing the job well, and for being a good steward of all that has been entrusted to him. Thank you, Mr. Jerome, for making the future look bright for our children, and ensuring that the dream continues to exist here in Edgartown.
Next time you see one of these individuals (or others who could have been mentioned) do thank them for their efforts on our behalf. We live in a great community, and it is their dedication that enriches us all.
Edgartown School Committee
Musical critters deserve a break at MVY
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the friendly folks over at WMVY:
For the longest time I thought your station theme song was Donna the Buffalo's "Rock of Ages" — that's what happens when you hear the same song about a zillion times a day (no exaggeration). Then I thought, "No, they are very smart over there. They must be investors in this quirky upstate New York band and get some kind of under-the-table kickback from their record sales and concerts." Then I thought, "Maybe whoever comes up with the station's playlist is dating the lead singer." Then I thought, "Those poor MVY guys are so busy they don't even listen to their own station and therefore don't realize their list is a tad redundant." Or maybe they're just lazy.
Then, like a bolt of lightning hitting the top of the RKO tower, it struck me. This is what happens when commercialism takes over even wonderful community-oriented stations. i.e., there goes creative programming too.
Listen, I love WMVY. I start tuning it in on my car radio around New Bedford when I come back from distant shores, or even the South Shore. One time last year in Beijing, I tuned it in via the magic of streaming Internet to impress a new Chinese friend. It worked.
Nonetheless, I really do highly recommend a little more variation and diversity to your playlist. So please, you guys, give Donna a break and put her Buffaloes out to pasture already.
Her faith restored
To the Editor:
On Friday, October 21, while on the 7:00 am ferry to Woods Hole, I noticed a deckhand going from car to car knocking on the windows. He came to me and asked if I was Laura Johnston. He told me I lost my wallet in Vineyard Haven and they would ship it over on the 8:15. I felt sick. I had my license, credit cards and a lot of cash in that wallet. When I met the purser at 9 am, she gave me a large manila envelope, which contained my wallet, which I opened immediately. Everything was in it. I was speechless (very unusual for me). The envelope also included a pack of gum, and a crushed lipstick tube (which had obviously been run over by a car.) I don't know how I lost all this (probably when I ran into the ticket office with an open purse).
I called the Steamship Authority to find who turned it in, but no one had any information about it. The next day, I went to the terminal and spoke with a couple of SSA employees, but no one seemed to know who turned it in, but everyone kept saying how lucky I was (don't I know it).
I have told my story to just about everyone I know, and then some. I want to thank you, whoever and wherever you are, for your good deed and for restoring my faith in humanity. I also want to thank the SSA employees who handled my wallet after it was received by you and for its safe passage. Thank you.
To the Editor:
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank everyone who has showed support in the days after the death of my grandmother, Irene Helen Pacheco. We are blessed to live on Martha's Vineyard where individuals truly care for their neighbors. The support my family has received from the community has been amazing and helpful during this very difficult time.
We would especially like to thank all the caring people who donated their time to help cook and host the reception at the Portuguese-American Club. With your help my family now has the strength to move on and continue my grandmother's legacy.
Perhaps you sent a lovely card, or sat quietly in a chair.
Perhaps you sent a funeral spray, if so we saw it there.
Perhaps you spoke the kindest words, as any friend could say.
Perhaps you were not there at all, just thought of us that day.
Whatever you did to console our heart, we thank you so much whatever the part.
Edmund R. Pacheco and family
The issue is our
consolation, not the resolution
To the Editor:
I can't help myself from commenting on a letter last week in one of the papers from the "seasoned traveler" and the well-meaning suggestions to improving the routes and practices of the VTA buses based on the practices of apparently more efficient off-Island public transportation systems. I do not doubt that in a normal world these suggestions are most likely good ones. But, we are not in a normal world.
A bit of advice, if I may. Suggesting that we start this "overhauling" of the VTA by eliminating the West Chop route is like forming an Island Beautification movement and suggesting that we start by tearing down the Ag Hall, or conserving Island energy consumption by placing a wind turbine atop the Whaling Church. Please don't blame the messenger, but as we speak, I am certain that the group that brought down the Tisbury library pillars is again coalescing with ferocity to ensure that the route remains unchanged forever. No, the buses will continue to drive through West Chop long after you and I are six feet under the pesticide-free ground. In fact, I won't be a bit surprised if the West Chop routes increase in frequency or if the VTA is forced to dedicate a bus just to drive around and around the chop as a permanent "I told you so."
It makes absolutely no difference if anyone ever rides that bus again. Don't assume that logic carries any weight around here. If you want to guarantee that something remains unchanged on the Island, just suggest that we change it. In no time it will be given historic status and a special committee to protect it. In no time at all, a "save the Chop route" rally at Five Corners will be planned complete with food and live music.
The letter also suggests that the bus drivers inform the passengers of the exact geographic locations of the stops and point out the names of the streets and landmarks as they drive by them. This might work out nicely as soon as we locals figure out the names of the streets and landmarks. You see, many of us are not really 100 percent sure what our own true address is, as street numbers were assigned years ago according to how many goats someone owned or something like that. One of my favorite pastimes is watching the DHL drivers go up and down Look Street searching for my house with a delivery until they lose their minds. At best, I would say to take a number and get in line since we are still trying to figure out the Manter Trust that was set up in 1913. It may be a while though, and I suspect we will all be zipping around in hover crafts before it makes the agenda of a town meeting.
Why? We locals love issues and debates but hate change. When a crisis is finally resolved, Islanders seem to go through a post-depression phase, mourning the loss of what had become a reliable friend. There is no doubt in my mind that Boch Park will become a historical landmark before any resolution is found as to its future use. The property has taken the Island through many winters when the news was slow, and we are loyal to our causes. What we love more than anything is for an issue to take on a monumental status where resolution is highly unlikely, as with the drawbridge in Tisbury, which has apparently become an engineering challenge equaled only by the building of the Panama Canal in 1914 or the marvelous Hoover Dam in 1933.
Yes, the Vineyard has never met an issue it didn't love. We can spend months on how bright a street light is and years on uppity concerns like a fire truck that actually works. There is a hardcore group of naysayers that is still teed off that the town retired the horse drawn fire engine in the 1940s, dismissing it as "putting on airs."
Now I read that we have a new five-year plan in the works for our beloved Island. What that means is that it will be at least five years before the plan is even close to being approved. (However, I agree that calling it the 50-year plan slows the momentum a little and wouldn't be nearly as much fun.) Besides, we currently have very pressing issues before us, like where to put our new fire truck, as well as the upcoming start of Anti-Patriot Act season and the holidays. Oh, the town meetings we will have.
In conclusion, I do appreciate the observations about the scheduling problems, route inconsistencies, obscure geographic landmarks and indifferent bus drivers. However, tell us something we don't already know, thank you. To us, it is in perfect sync with our unspoken belief that efficiency is the enemy of tradition and that our Island doesn't really like things that work too well and thus deprive us of our God-given right to complain and be petty. It is almost guaranteed that a debate about the VTA will certainly end with a brouhaha about why we ever paved the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in the first place. Sometimes it is just better to leave well enough alone.
But, if you are looking for a controversial issue to get behind while here, do not despair. My favorite up and coming topic is this:
What do we do with the piping plover now that bird flu is coming our way? (It is a good one, right?)
To the Editor:
It's a beautiful fall day in Chilmark. The sun is shining brightly through the trees. In our yard, the birds are chattering around the bird feeder. I'm going to go for a run, then our friends will come over for brunch. Later. Ellen and I will spend the afternoon together. What could be wrong?
The other day I read an article in The New York Review of Books, "Torture in Iraq," excerpted from a report by Human Rights Watch. The article gives a first-hand account by soldiers who were involved in torturing prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. What they say is horrifying, but even worse is the knowledge that the torture is still going on right now. As one soldier says, "After Abu Ghraib, things toned down. We still did it, but we were careful. It is still going on the same way, I am sure. Maybe not as blatant, but it is how we do things."
How can I hold together this beautiful day on the Vineyard with the awareness that in places both known and unknown all over the world, Americans are engaged in torturing prisoners right now? How can we all live with this knowledge?
I am encouraged by the fact that Rabbis for Human Rights in North America, under the leadership of Brian Walt of West Tisbury, has decided to launch a campaign to end U.S.-sponsored torture (www.rhr-na.org). This act shows me that we can live on this beautiful Island and still keep in touch with the world. We can make our lives meaningful.
Let's never forget beauty and never forget the pain of others.
Power struggle on buses
To the Editor:
I will address the issues surrounding the school budget and transportation woes. The Vineyard Gazette's front page article, as written by Rachel Kovac, who is quite astute, touched on recent developments.
First, I'll say there is obviously a pride, ego and power struggle going on between the top dogs of the school administration and school board. I drive a school bus and am directly affected by how things pan out, so I am putting in my two cents.
Dr. Weiss has inherited a sticky hornets' nest of a problem. He tried a logical approach by hiring‑an independent consultant to evaluate the whole transportation system. He recommended the district run the buses for this year only, based on numbers produced from his financial person, Amy Tierney. There appears to of [sic] been an error in her calculations. The school board members do not carry equal voting strength, and though they all get to have their say, it is pure politics when it comes down to a vote. Despite the politics, the numbers have to hold up, especially considering the uncontrollable fuel cost situation.
There are some folks on that board who would rather have the taxpayers pick up the $350,000 shortfall before they would see it go to Island Transport. That's where pride enters the equation. They are so headstrong and unyieldingly against Island Transport that they refuse to see it is the most logical and cost effective answer. Now, as a result, they have made Dr. Weiss out to look like a fool, which I am sure he is most perturbed about. When the high school principal is so alienated as to have to turn to the press to resolve an internal issue, it should show those on the outside looking in that there is a power struggle within the administration and/or school board that is unproductive and wrong. Something has to give, and I hope it is not the fine principal of the high school Peg Regan.
As for the drivers,we just keep driving along faithfully. I hope for an amicable solution to the problem, one where the taxpayers, children, and school principals are uninjured.
One last‑point. Scott Dario is not Jack Dario. Scott is one of the finest people I have ever met on this Island and it goes without saying, he should be running the school bus transportation if at all possible.
To the Editor:
Recently, while on a return ferry ride from Woods Hole, I became violently sick to my stomach, to the extent that the purser called for an ambulance to pick me up upon our arrival. Food poisoning was the culprit, but I was in no position to debate the issue. The EMTs were great, efficient and professional. I arrived at the hospital in less than 10 minutes.
The cost for this one-mile ride was $689.19. I don't wish to appear ungrateful, but if there's ever a "next time," I think I'll call a cab and give a very large tip.
High bids, a fresh look
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the people of West Tisbury:
I was hoping the bids [for the town hall reconstruction] would come in way too high. Maybe it's not too late.
The town hall was built as a school. We started using it as a town hall because we were frugal back then.
Do we really want to bastardize this beautiful old grand dame of a building? Does an old three-story building make sense for a town hall? Do we want to have a parking lot instead of a playground?
Let's sell the Dukes County Academy building to the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust for a dollar. Let them take great care of an historic treasure in the excellent manner that they care for all of their properties.
We could build a nice, new, simple and efficient town hall near the new fire station, banks, and post office.
Arnold Fischer Jr.