Letters to the Editor
volunteering for you, funny boy
To the Editor:
Like a naïve Eartha Kitt pontificating to an ever increasingly angry Lady Bird on the evils of the Vietnam War, I find myself thinking that, if I knew then what I know now, I would have written it long before.
Since the infamous letters regarding affordable housing and an imaginary kingdom that appeared four weeks ago in the pages of the courageous MV Times, I have not only witnessed the gray Vineyard sky falling, but have put away the umbrellas and, like Chicken Little, run to stand out in the concrete-laden rain. Yes, the fallout has been significant and, well, intriguing. In these four weeks, for expressing opposing opinions to the politically correct verse on the subject, I've been applauded, condemned, blacklisted, praised, and fired. Fired? Well, sort of.
Let's just say that I was "relieved" from my position as chairperson for "The Water Tasting" fundraiser, which benefits the Vineyard House. Granted, the chair position is about as influential as the guy who carries Condoleezza's luggage in terms of hierarchy and real power, but it is a visible position and a volunteer position as well. Yes, just when I though that my self-imposed hole could not get any deeper, I awoke realizing that it may be time to start learning Chinese.
How does one get relieved from a thankless volunteer position, which requires months of uncompensated work? How is it that all of a person's qualifications, which were so awe-inspiring to a committee a week before, are suddenly trumped by a little opinion in a small local newspaper? Do wealthy donors really insist on android-like chairpersons who quell their inner voices and just nod in agreement like those spring-necked bubble-head toys who just nod endlessly in time on dashboards like a pulsating Quasar in the Andromeda galaxy? Does somebody actually believe that Martha's Vineyard is painted with a single shallow-minded brush, assuming a widespread intolerance for ideas and dissent among our local residents? I suggest we clue the donors in on this analysis, as I personally have my doubts as to their inability to make up their own minds or their supposed allergy to open debate.
I have always admired the Vineyard House for the service it provides and for the spirit with which it was founded. I have supported their cause for years with time and gifts and did so gladly. As a person who sought and received help in bettering my own life, I will always be supportive of such causes. I just think, however, that it has been hijacked by the Keystone Cops, and that Laurel and Hardy have been elevated to executive positions. It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. But, what if the chain has been jury-rigged with masking tape?
To be honest, my real beef is with the reasons for my dismissal. Why fire me for such lame reasons when there are so many better reasons to fire me? If you want to discredit my character, have the decency to do your homework and use something worthy of the dramatic action.
Had somebody picked up the phone, I would have gladly told them about the time I dated a Mafia boss or about the whole transvestite thing a while back. I could have pointed them in the direction of that naked arrest at Five Corners, or the time I found true love, but lost it when he was denied parole. Certainly there are a slew of other pre-abstinence offenses that would garner much more support for my hasty dismissal. Listen, when you have been to 20 rehabs and detoxes, getting fired for writing a letter is just, well,....insulting. Doesn't 35 years of bad judgment count for anything?
Yes, Martha's Vineyard, like with poor Harriet Myers, the will of a few has corrupted the integrity of a philanthropic process and sets a very troubling example to all those they are supposed to be helping. I agree with Groucho on this one and have no interest in working with an organization that doesn't want me. I can take the heat and will remain in the kitchen for as long as I choose, but just feel compelled to point out that if you don't want to end up cross-eyed, then it is probably not a good idea to constantly be looking down your nose at everybody.
My intention is not to undermine the charity itself. The people it helps don't much worry who is the chairperson or not. It is worthy of all the support it can garner. I will continue to support it regardless of my personal views.
If your plan is to sweep a person silently under the carpet, then I say "go for it." I may not agree with the strategy, but it is a free country, and I respect that freedom. I have just one small observation, which is begged by the question. Its answer goes something like this: You might want to pack a suitcase. Why? Because, even though you might very well succeed in sending someone down the path of social sterilization, they seldom seem to travel alone.
Answers to housing questions
To the Editor:
Thanks are due The Martha's Vineyard Times for the thoughtful comments on affordable housing in the Dec. 29 Editorial. We recently collaboratively produced the affordable housing journal, "Framework," because we agree that dialogue is important.
We agree wholeheartedly with your declaration that "housing is an issue whose time has come." Your editorial comments concluded with three questions that go to the heart of the housing issue. They deserve a response.
You ask, "Will all ordinary-income Islanders from here on live in subsidized housing with limited opportunities for accumulating wealth?"
In fact, housing has offered only "limited opportunities for accumulating wealth" for all but perhaps the last two generations of Island history.
The rise of the house-as-commodity, with the prospect of equity growing at rates of 10 and 20 percent per year, is a recent historic development. Before the massive boom of the last half-century, a house was not a powerful engine for building capital, but a place to raise a family, a home base that anchored people for productive lives in this community.
No, all Islanders of ordinary income won't someday live in subsidized housing. Some will live in houses passed on by family, or be able to purchase homes with inherited wealth. But if we are to sustain the diversity of the Vineyard's human population, a growing stock of subsidized housing will be needed.
The stark numbers of John Ryan's recent report on the Island housing problem bear out this conclusion. He found that in 2004, a family earning the median income would have needed almost $300,000 for a down-payment to swing the purchase of an entry-level Island home. Few families have that quantity of cash lying around.
You ask, "Will the economy be encouraged to expand to offer good jobs and growing wages to neighbors we need and want?"
We hope so: a healthy economy with good jobs is needed to help Islanders cope with all the higher costs of living here. But it would be extremely unrealistic to hope that an expanding Island economy alone will solve the problem of affordable housing. The affordability gap is already too wide, and it is growing.
Finally, you ask: "Will all the new, affordable housing created from here on be publicly funded?"
The answer is no: not all. But it's hard to imagine an approach to preserving the human diversity of this community that won't include a substantial element of public funding. And there's no reason to think that this public funding can't be as painless to raise, and as profound in its effects, as the funding stream that has empowered the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank for the past two decades.
In the 1980s, Vineyarders saw public access to open places threatened by development, created the Land Bank and gave it a revenue stream to preserve key pieces of the Island landscape forever. The Vineyard community didn't act decisively to fund the preservation of open space until it faced a pressing threat.
The same holds true for housing today: Now that the ability of ordinary people to purchase homes and contribute to the richness of this community is under urgent threat, it is increasingly clear that the people who live and work here are community assets just as real as the Island's public woodlands and beaches.
We must make sure that funds from the Community Preservation Act, which was supported by Island voters with the understanding that they would go toward affordable housing, are applied to their intended purpose. And we must speak with one voice to our state legislators this year when they consider establishing the Martha's Vineyard Housing Bank to provide a revenue stream supporting this essential enterprise.
Island Affordable Housing Fund
Island Housing Trust
Regional Housing Authority
To the Editor:
Great job on the new web site. I look forward to reading The Times each week, and this new look will make the reading more pleasurable.
Boca Raton, Florida
Main Street blight
To the Editor:
We very rarely write grievance Letters to the Editors, but our patience, along with that of many other townspeople, is finally running out. It is beyond our comprehension that the town fathers could possibly allow the property on the southwest corner of Main Street and South Summer Street in Edgartown to go for three years now in such an escalating state of disrepair. We can't imagine this being allowed to happen in Nantucket center.
We have an Historic District Commission in Edgartown. Why have they not been given the "teeth" necessary to prevent this kind of thing from happening here? Why can't they be given the authority to set dates for improvements to properties such as this and levy fines if the dates for improvements are not met?
The Historic District Commission has the authority to levy fines on new buildings, which do not conform to approved plans, but evidently they are not able to levy fines on owners of historic buildings, which are allowed to deteriorate over a space of years. Why not? We know that we are not the only ones outraged by such a flagrant violation of town responsibility.
The Hall family has stated that the old movie theatre in Vineyard Haven, which is also in a state of sad disrepair, cannot have their attention because they are too busy renovating the Yellow House in Edgartown. Who is kidding whom? How long do we have to wait for some rules to be put into effect to prevent this blight on our town from happening in the future?
Teddie and Ray Ellis
To the Editor:
It was with great shock and grief that I dialed 911 upon finding my son, called "B" by all who knew him, dead on his bedroom floor last Thursday, Dec. 22. I wish to thank the communications operator for her quick response, and to all the officials who came within minutes: the Edgartown Police, the State Police, the ambulances and EMTs.
I thank the Cape Cod Times and the Martha's Vineyard Times for printing obituaries on Dec. 25 and Dec. 29, respectively. My deepest gratitude also goes to Lennie Verville and his staff at the Chapman, Cole, and Gleason Funeral Home, where an overflow throng came to pay their last respects on Dec. 27. My special thanks to the Rev. Thomas Roan for officiating at the service, and to the Oriental Martha's Vineyard Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, who led a formal Masonic funeral for my son. (B and I were one of the very few father-son members in this Lodge.)
I thank my daughter, Nancy Jeanette Gaffney, for making countless phone calls, sending many e-mails, compiling three large collages of color photos of B and his friends, and for organizing a beautiful reception at the Mansion House following the funeral.
A huge thanks to Ralph Packer, B's former employer, for providing a fuel truck and driver to lead the funeral procession, and also for his generous contribution of food for the reception. And a big thank-you to the Mansion House for hosting the reception. Most of all, I thank all of B's friends, many of whom interrupted their holiday vacations to return to the Island, thus making Tuesday's celebration such a memorable event. Guests came from many parts of Massachusetts, from New Hampshire, from New York, Chicago, and one from the Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean.
The cause of B's death is unknown, and it may be some months before we know. In the meantime, please know how grateful I am to all who have sent condolences and supported me, and forgive me if I have unintentionally failed to include in this letter the names of all those who helped. Treasure your children.
James A. Gaffney Sr.
Coast Guardsmen rescued
To the Editor:
I would like to thank all the persons that prepared and brought food to Coast Guard Station Menemsha during the holidays. The crew greatly appreciated the kindness demonstrated by the community. Most of the station's crew is single, with relatives as far north as Vermont, as far south as Texas, and far west as Washington. With no cook assigned, holiday food was a very welcome. Again thank you.
Mark C. Lewis
Chief Boatswains Mate
Officer in Charge
and Oak Bluffs
To the Editor:
With reference to "Tisbury Will Think About a Drink in 2006," an article in the Jan.5 Times, now that the Tisbury selectmen have shown support for the sale of beer and wine, I suggest that they become more proactive with their fact-finding.
If Mr. Pachico wants to know "what control the town has over alcohol sales versus the state, what kind of income Tisbury might expect from licensing fees, and what impact alcohol sales will have on law enforcement needs and the quality of life in this town," may I suggest that he telephone the Oak Bluffs or Edgartown selectmen to get some answers.
I have one observation concerning the quality of life issue. You can stroll Circuit Avenue any summer evening up to 10:30 at night, and you will see families enjoying the atmosphere, eating ice cream, browsing the shops. The sale of alcohol definitely has not disturbed the family orientation of Oak Bluffs.
Not school business
To the Editor:
We are writing concerning Ted Dewing's letter regarding the smoking shelter. As much as we, the students, appreciate your concern about our smoking addiction, the smoking is not done on school property. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the school system. The fact that the police are sitting a block down the road has nothing to do with the fact, because we're not doing anything illegal.
She missed the point
To the Editor:
Wow, Leah Houghton missed entirely the purpose and content of my letter. Try reading it again. There is no proposal, and it is not mine. I am gathering names of like-minded people, and clearly she is not one of them.
Her experiences are in no way similar to mine. I have never seen a dirt bike of ORV rider with no helmet. I ride my horse to and in the Manuel Correlus State Forest every week. I have never had a dirt bike or four-wheeler fail to stop and shut off their motor until I passed. Never.
As she pointed out, there are laws regarding the use of recreation vehicles. They are within the Mass. Environmental Law Handbook. Maybe she should read them. They address everyone's fire concerns. Compliant vehicles must have a spark arrester and proper muffler. Age limits and supervision are addressed, as well as more things than one could even think of.
I will be more than happy to transport my son to and from a legal place to ride. That is the whole point. Without organization and oversight, there can be anarchy. Trying to prevent organization won't stop the riding. If there was no skate park, would there be no skateboaders? They'd just be doing it in town, probably annoying people like you.
It is impossible to comment on a club that doesn't exist yet, but based on what others have done, I can suggest what could happen. A track location is in no way limited to the State Forest. Group trips to ride off-Island in other legal riding areas are certainly possible. I'm not sure about liability, but I'm glad she brought it up. Who is liable if I fall off my horse in the State Forest? Who is liable when a citizen or policeman causes injury as he pulls someone off their motorcycle while it is in motion? Who would have been liable if the lawyer who jumped out in front of two teenagers and shrieked, "I see you!" had been hit?
I think the anarchy is leading to far more possible liability than the club and track ever would, but we'll see. In the meanwhile, I wouldn't waste too much time feeling threatened. No one has been able to get a club together yet, and they have tried. Thanks for the letter, though. It inspired even more like-minded people to call. One more thing: in polite society, when a woman has a husband she often prefers to be called Mrs., not Ms.
It's a sport that
needs a venue
To the Editor:
With regard to Leah Houghton's letter "No ATVs in the State Forest" (Jan. 5). These kids have chosen their sport to be ATV riding and deserve a place to ride. Much like the skate park or the ice rink, the community has worked to provide a venue for these children. This is what we would like to see happen for children that have chosen ATV riding to be their sport.
ATV riding happens to be our child's passion, as well as the passion of countless others on the Island. It is a very physical and demanding sport, one that requires strength and ability. Our son has carried this into other parts of his life with weight lifting and working out to be in the best physical shape he can be in.
All children need to be stimulated. I am just happy that these kids have found this sport to be stimulated by instead of drugs and alcohol.
In response to you witnessing most of these riders without helmets I find that absurd. For all parents that have children who ride we have done nothing short of making them aware of the dangers, and most parents I know have made certain that they are wearing all the proper gear. Their safety is our first concern.
Keenly being aware of the fire danger, I too walk the forest often and notice lots of cigarette butts along the grass paths. Shouldn't we be more concerned about that? All ATVs are equipped with spark arrestors.
There are currently eight state forests in Massachusetts that have set up trails and allow off-road vehicles use of. Specific rules and times must be followed along with proper trail etiquette and safety equipment.
The State Forest is here to provide us with conservation, education, and recreation. Just because it's not the recreation and sport of all, that shouldn't mean some be singled out. I am certain that the State Forest is plenty big enough for everyone.
There is more information on rules, regulations and age restrictions on the Massachusetts Environmental Police web site.
It would be great if the community along with state officials could work something out and allow our children to get some enjoyment out of the State Forest that is there for everyone to use.
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Red Cross Chapter held a month-long series of activities in December to publicly acknowledge and personally thank the people on the Vineyard for their contributions to the relief efforts during this year's Atlantic hurricane season.
During this holiday season we have concluded the activities with thanking the numerous Island businesses and banks that generously made space on their counters for our Red Cross canisters for disaster relief fundraising. We would like Vineyarders to know that your coins, bills, and even some checks - when all were collected and counted - came to almost $10,000. The proceeds have gone to the delivery of critical help to disaster victims in the Gulf Coast region.
As we express our appreciation to all those who sponsored our canisters, we also want to thank all those who dropped something in those cans. Please do not ever underestimate the value of a coin or a bill, no matter how small the denomination. Whether it is for Red Cross disaster relief or a cause for another Vineyard agency, for in the end there is value just in the gesture not only to those who will be served but to those volunteers who know they have the support of the Island community.
We again want to thank the Vineyard for your tremendous support as we met the challenges of Red Cross humanitarian relief efforts throughout 2005 - and we wish everyone a safe and healthy new year.
Disaster Relief Fundraising
To the Editor:
Below is a copy of a letter that was sent to Blair Cote, the manager of the Stop & Shop of Edgartown, who has been supportive of our efforts to work with the diverse community of young men within the high school:
Thank you for once again assisting the Young Men's Mentoring group. You have been an important part of our meetings and have helped in getting total participation with our activities. This is in no small part because of the wonderful lunches that have been provided by Stop & Shop. We especially want to thank the members of the deli department - your managers Dennis and Debbie have been more than accommodating, and you should be proud to have such dedicated employees. We appreciate all that they do.
We are so thankful of the cooperation that you have shown us, we would like to let everyone in the community know how much your generosity has meant to us. Thanks once again.
W. Leo Frame Jr.
Young Men's Mentoring Group
To the Editor:
Happy New Year to Paula Sullivan, postmaster in West Tisbury, for having the only Santa letter box on the Island. Paula sent many letters off to Santa every day in December, right up to the last minute. By some miracle, Santa wrote back to each child by the next day. It sure was a magical moment when Charlie and Martha received a hand-written and very personal note from Santa on Dec. 24. Thank you to Paula, Diane, and all the other elves in the West Tisbury Post Office - always efficient and with a smile. See you all tomorrow.
Judy and Bob Jahries
To the Editor:
On Friday, Dec. 30 a wonderful afternoon was had by the people who filled The Anchors senior center in Edgartown to see the performance of Sadie and Ida. This was a play reading written by Susan Shafer and received with delight by all of us in the audience. I would like to thank Joy Stuart Bergstrom and Barbara Howell and the director Leslie J. Stark for a funny and heartwarming performance.
While on the subject of thanks, I also want to recognize the folks at Up-Island Automotive for their Sunday reduced prices. They are a savings place throughout the year, but their additional Sunday gift to those of us who call this Island home, is both thoughtful and wonderful. Thanks, guys.
Folks you can count on
To the Editor:
We owe a special thank-you to the following people:
Roger Wey and Susan Von Steiger are an asset to the town of Oak Bluffs, and to the senior center.
A few weeks ago, we had a problem at Woodside, where we reside. We asked them to attend a meeting we were going to have with Carol Lashnits and Dorothy Young. They were more than happy to help us, and were very kind and understanding of our problems. Thanks to Roger and Susan and HUD, justice did prevail in our favor.
We appreciate everything you did, and it is nice to know when seniors have a problem they can count on you.
To the Editor:
We'd like to thank the wonderful cooperation of Edgartown police officers Tony Bettencourt and Craig Edwards for making the Edgartown School's annual Jingle Bell Run Walk such a success on Thursday, Dec. 22. The first-place finishers were Darren Gazaille (8T) and Maggie Lindland (6M and repeat winner) and all the students/staff/parents finished in record time with the chilly weather (while their bells jingled all the way). This K-8 event is run in memory of Police Chief George Searle for this contribution to the town. The cocoa provided by Mrs. Gina deBettencourt was excellent and the tremendous help on the Race Course by all the teachers made the event a wonderful holiday tradition.
Physical Education Teachers
To the Editor:
We need a metal trash barrel at the bus stop across from the Steamship Authority in Vineyard Haven. Tourists get off the ferries and see nothing but trash. A metal trash barrel with holes in it.
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Commissioner Luisa M. Paiewonsky, Massachusetts Highway Department.
The Tisbury selectmen are closely following the discussion and plan concerning the proposed two-bridge project to replace the Lagoon Pond Bridge. In conjunction with the town of Oak Bluffs, we recently commissioned a study of the current status of the bridge, which was conducted by Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers. This company has also done work for Mass. Highway in the past.
The report generated a series of remedial recommendations, many of which Mass. Highway has agreed should be done to help mitigate current safety concerns before the actual project begins. As you know, the Lagoon Pond Bridge plays an extremely important role within our community. Having said that, the board is concerned that the project's cost has already doubled in two years.
Additionally, the board is also concerned about the extended time frame that has been laid out for construction of this project. The Tisbury selectmen would respectfully request that the state of Massachusetts implement the recommendations in the Lichtenstein report and in doing so take another look at the feasibility of the entire project as currently planned.
If the current bridge can be made safe by the proposed mitigation measures, would it also allow for a one-bridge solution? Of course, we would prefer one bridge be built, as the construction impacts would be far less disruptive to the people of Martha's Vineyard. It would also ensure that we are not left for many years with a large, narrow, inefficient temporary steel structure. All this on an Island that depends greatly on that crossing point for many varied reasons, all of which are important to our safety, commerce, and the many tourists who visit and are the lifeblood on this Island.
Thank you for your time, and we look forward to working with you on this vital issue.
Tisbury Board of Selectmen
No authority on transit
To the Editor:
What is wrong with the Vineyard Transit Authority? Not only are the buses consistently late, but now our annual passes don't work in the machine they use to count passengers.
The VTA board has done nothing to improve the performance of this costly taxpayer burden. Perhaps the All-Island Selectmen's Association should investigate the performance of our administrator, Angela Grant, and the general manager, Darren Morris. If they can't keep buses on schedule in the winter, what will happen this summer?
The VTA is definitely not an authority on transit.
To the Editor:
To say the wind farm is an environmentally responsible alternate energy project is only to palliate our ongoing problem: profligate energy use. For that we should mutilate Nantucket Sound?
Let's first cut down on big automobiles, extravagant buildings, and flooding our outdoors with lights to impress the viewer from outer space.
Disfiguring a priceless seascape for a wind farm is like having art museums burn their own collections so they can buy a little less heating oil.
Arthur Yorke Allen
Lay off Larry
To the Editor
At first, there were a series of mean spirited letters to the editor, sent to and printed by both Island newspapers. Then it was a fairly grandiose commentary piece in the Gazette and now, finally, a blurb in a recent gossip column of The Boston Globe. I've just about had it with Jackie Mendez-Diez and her constant bashing of Larry and Laurie David.
She is pointing her finger at the wrong people. During last spring, the Davids constructed a stage, barbecue pit, and other amenities on some newly purchased property off North Road. Since they were off-Island at the time, they relied on a "project manager" to oversee the property's renovation and help orchestrate the improvements. As it turns out, some of these items were within the boundary of wetlands. However, the Davids had been constantly reassured that all the necessary permits had been secured, and that all was copacetic. But that was far from the truth.
Larry and Laurie David were guilty of misplaced trust and unfortunate delegation of responsibility. Neither one knowingly disregarded Chilmark's wetland protection laws, nor used any sort of "Hollywood entitlement," or brashly went about destroying the environment.
The Davids are both very active in the environmental movement. They have raised millions of dollars to help protect our planet from the effects of global warming. They also have been very active, mostly in a rather quiet way, in supporting many Island charities and organizations.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not only a Seinfeld fan and a Curb Your Enthusiasm fan, but also am good friends with the Davids. They have been nothing but kind, generous, and supportive to me and my family. To see them constantly harassed is making a lot of us sick to our stomachs, and various Chilmark officials roll their eyes in frustration. Indeed, the Davids are great additions to the Chilmark summer community. And for people who don't know the real story, the Davids' reputation is being unfairly sullied.
I'm not sure of Ms. Diaz-Mendez ultimate agenda. Is she trying to run these people off the Island? As an abutter, is her land being directly affected? If she is truly as environmentally motivated as her outpourings might indicate, her time and energy might be much better spent, in my humble opinion, contributing to the various Island environmental agencies in a more constructive and positive fashion. This endless, misguided, and needless stream of shrill anti-David propaganda is not only unnecessary, but also self-defeating.
I fondly recall the day I first met Larry. It was on Squibnocket Beach about eight years ago. It was during his first Island visit. Already, people were encouraging him to buy a place and move here for the summer. I asked him if he was considering it. He said, "I don't think so . . . people are just too nice and friendly here. No one argues, people don't seem to get upset very much. I just wouldn't fit in." I suggested to him that he read some of the various letters to the editor in the newspaper. He'd see some real bitching and moaning. He might just feel a bit more comfortable.
I guess he took my advice, for better or for worse.