Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Buckle Up for KJ and Deebo saved my life.
I was never one to buckle my seat belt until a few years ago when I was teaching in the high school and saw how the death of KJ and Deebo affected those students that I taught.
In the beginning, I would be driving and when I saw one of those black and white bumper stickers, I would remind myself to buckle up and promptly do it. Upon getting a new SUV last year, I decided to put the sticker on the inside of my car right above my speedometer so that every time that I would start my car I would remind myself to buckle up, if not for myself for KJ and Deebo.
Well, last Saturday that sticker saved my life. I was in an accident in which my car rolled three times and I ended up in the hospital for a week with a broken neck. The police and medical team stated that I should be dead or paralyzed but that I was extremely lucky and my seatbelt being buckled saved me from such a fate. As I sit here now in a halo that keeps my head stationary so my neck can heal over the next three months, I would like to thank all those students and friends and family that have kept the message of buckle up in the honor of KJ and Deebo alive because without that I know I would not be here to express my eternal thanks.
Much love and respect.
Chilmark and Palm City, Florida
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Marc Hanover at the Steamship Authority:
I have recently completed a regimen of external beam radiation therapy, which required daily trips to the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center at Cape Cod Health Care in Hyannis, for seven continuous weeks. It would be an understatement to say that this was a seriously daunting prospect.
The support and kindness shown me by the Steamship Authority were spectacular, starting with Bridget Tobin and Gina Barboza, and including crew and dockhands, who soon recognized me for a regular, driven by medical concerns.
I cannot thank everyone enough for the help and support that were lavished upon me by the SSA, one and all.
Robert G. Ford
To the Editor:
After reviewing the last two editions of The Times, I concluded that my comments could not be considered a rush to judgment.
What prompted me to write this letter is that I was deeply disappointed that you failed to offer a tribute to Coretta Scott King, the first lady of the civil rights movement in either edition.
During these turbulent times what would have been more fitting. One cannot deny that Mrs. King's personal carriage was punctuated with perseverance, tenacity, spirituality, humanism, and the ability to confront adversity with class. The ideals that she and Dr. King fostered demonstrated to the world the true meaning of good citizenship and how to bring about social change through nonviolent means.
I do want to acknowledge and applaud the wonderful letter by Marie Allen that you published.
In closing, I sincerely hope that as we continue to revere outstanding Americans (and we should), that it does not become a selective process.
Tillie A. Foster
No to bloodlust
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.
I realize I am not a resident of Oak Bluffs, but I am writing you on a matter which I believe is of importance not just to your town but to our entire Island. I refer to the Shark Tournament, and I realize that you have heard from me before, but I strongly feel that you should know of my very strong objections again.
There is no question but that a great many people on and off the Island view this macabre spectacle as never a sporting event but rather a gross display of the slaughter of defenseless creatures for no reason save for prize money, cheap publicity and a thrill of killing. These are strong words today as they were six months ago when I expressed them before, but I feel that this event does enormous discredit to our Island and to a great majority of those who live here and those who come to visit.
We realize that the occasion does provide some opportunity for scientific sampling of the shark's internal organs and research into other aspects of their lives, but surely there are other far less spectacular ways of obtaining tissue samples of these creatures than this. Two years ago my wife and I were privileged to be visiting Naushon Island when a great white shark became entrapped in a shallow salt water lagoon on the island and just off Woods Hole. To see this great creature swimming in this small body of water was an unadulterated thrill, and one's immediate and instinctive wish was not for the opportunity to kill it but rather to find a way for the shark to escape. People, primarily scientists from every stripe, came literally from all over the country to observe, representing public, private and government agencies. Every possible method was tried, short of entrapping the shark, to provide a means of escape and finally after at least a week of failed attempts the shark finally engineered its own departure. Would that we might have the same approach to the sharks endangered by the Oak Bluffs Shark Tournament.
People have said to me, "Well, we have an annual fishing derby on the Island, and you and a great many others support it wholeheartedly. So, what is the difference between the shark tournament and the fishing derby?" I'll answer this very easily: the shark tournament pits large powerboats with big engines and advanced electronics and expensive booms and other equipment against the virtually defenseless sharks in our waters; the fishing derby pits one man and his rod and reel standing in the surf or standing in his boat, casting his lure against a possible fish. Somehow, one man and rod against a fish appears to me to be more equal antagonists than the big boats, and the big money against the shark. Perhaps the most important difference, however, is the fact that the fish are invariably eaten whereas much if not most of the shark meat is wasted.
But you say, "Are not the sharks dangerous?" If you are splashing about in a bathing suit in relatively shallow water and sharks are present the answer is yes. But remember, the statistic is that more people are killed by dogs each year than by sharks!
Finally, I do indeed realize that the shark tournament brings money to the Island and employment, briefly at least, to a number of Island residents and businesses. Without the shark tournament, however, can it be proven that the Island would suffer grievous financial loss? I doubt it.
Again, I say the tournament is not a sport, it is blood lust; it is innately cruel and is decimating those beautiful creatures which are threatening no one save for the fish that they eat themselves, and are virtually defenseless against the technologies arrayed against them. Some commercial fishermen do indeed fish for sharks for their meat and for other byproducts; they should do so, and I support them. I can never, however, support this tournament with its bells and whistles, its flags and sirens, and its obvious pleasure, joy and satisfaction in maiming and killing animals who have never threatened any of us.
Not to support the shark tournament for the upcoming season will be a disappointment to some, but it would show to the majority of residents of Oak Bluffs and to the rest of the Vineyard that you five selectmen individually and collectively value higher ideals than the destruction of sharks for no purpose save for the blood-thirsty few. I believe you will find that many others will agree with me.
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Dr. G. Paul Dulac at the Edgartown School.
Congratulations. The parents, children, faculty, school committee, and Dr. James Weiss couldn't have picked a better person to be the principal of the Edgartown School.
Best wishes as you lead this fine school to new heights.
After serving as principal of the Edgartown School for 26 years, Mr. Jerome retired in November 2005. - Ed.
In the hunt
To the Editor:
They seek him here
They seek him there
These foolish Bushies seek him everywhere
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Bin Laden won't tell.
Peter Colt Josephs
To the Editor:
A number of years ago, my house was falling apart and in dire need of repairs, and I had no means to fix it. The south side was literally collapsing, and it was no longer weather-tight. And then I walked into the Tisbury Town Hall. There, on the bulletin board, was a sign that gave me hope. It mentioned that there were funds available for qualifying homeowners to repair our homes. It told me to call Duffy at TRI. I did. That afternoon.
The Housing Rehabilitation Program (TRI) is a non-profit organization that has been available to Island residents since 2002. In my case, it helped me to both repair the south side of my house and create a low-income apartment. This is a loan that I will never have to repay (as long as I live in the house for a certain number of years, etc.).
I work at the high school, and know of other Island families who were in the same dilemma as I was. They too have been helped by TRI. To date, TRI has helped 84 families, and this year alone is assisting 35 families.
We all know that Martha's Vineyard is an economically tough place to live. Many of us work two or three jobs to make ends meet. TRI helps without shaming. I know of more than a dozen other families that can/will benefit from TRI. It has made an enormous difference in my life and in the lives of some of the families I work with.
On Feb. 28, at 1 pm, there will be a meeting at the Dukes County offices at the airport. At that time our Island officials will decide whether or not to continue working with the Housing Rehabilitation Program. Please attend and show your support to this organization that has quietly helped so many of our neighbors and families. If you are interested in learning more about TRI, please feel free to contact either Ted or Duffy at 508-696-3285.
To the Editor:
I have walked through the state forest many times over these many years. I've ridden my bicycle through there, roller bladed. I even went on a thankfully brief ride on a horse (bareback), in our state forest. I've picnicked and napped on the warm pine needles of the forest floor.
But the most fun I've ever had is when I rode my dirt bike around in there.
R. K. Brown
To the Editor:
As a frequent walker in the State Forest, I am worried about damage to its ecosystem. Raising a child here, I'm also worried about bored teenagers. I've seen too many teenagers cruising around in cars, hanging out, getting into drugs and ending up in the Court Report. The energy of youth demands guidance from adults. ATVs are fun. They also require a lot of space. The State Forest is 5,000 acres. Seems pretty big, but an ATV could cross it in about 10 minutes. I truly don't see how something as powerful as an ATV could co-exist there. Confining them to the fire roads might seem like a good compromise but would they truly stay on the fire roads? Would we have to assign someone to monitor them? Though I think finding a good outlet for youth is commendable, buying them an ATV and taking them into the State Forest placates them and sends the wrong message: it's OK to do something as long as you don't get caught. Just to let you ATVers know, I always bring my camera with me.
If you see a tall man walking with a small child, stay out of my focus.
Help us ride
To the Editor:
For the last few week's I've been reading about people going back and forth about the use of ATVs in the state forest. I myself as a motorcycle rider, think that both sides have a good point.
Do ATVs tear up the trails? Sure. Do ATVs make noise? Of course. Do ATVs annoy people? Obviously. But don't forget they're also fun, a great sport and a good way to keep kids off the streets. They're not intentionally trying to destroy the State Forest. They're just out there to have fun. What we need is a central location for us to ride just like the skate park. Do you remember when every one complained that the skateboarders were in the way of downtown businesses and pedestrians? Now you don't hear about them any more because they have a safe place to go. Maybe the same thing can happen for ATV riders. If they have an authorized place to ride, they will go there. They're just looking for an outlet. A place to ride would get ATVs off the walking trails. If they had a designated area to ride in, it would make it a safer sport. Should a rider ever need medical attention, they wouldn't be out in the woods where help may not be able to find them. The area could be supervised. Furthermore, no one said it had to be in the State Forest. We could ride in a place like the Airport Business Park down by C&W repairs. A location like that would be perfect. Bikes are no louder than airplanes, no smellier than jet fumes or the refuse district and there will never be any houses built in that area. That's just one example of where it could be done. If land could be leased or donated it could happen. Other communities have done it. As for liability, there are clubs off-Island where you sign waivers and proof of insurance is required by anyone who rides there. That's how it's done at the tracks where I ride off-Island. If the community came together, this could be done. Maybe interested parents and adult riders could establish a club with dues that could help finance this type of project. I know a lot of people would volunteer their time to make this happen. The Vineyard is a close-knit community. There aren't too many things that can't be accomplished if we go about it the right way.
People, it's not that hard - it's just people being difficult and/or selfish.
One of the problems with living on the Island is that people think that all kids should do is play high school sports, which is wrong. They seem to forget about the group of people like myself. I go off the Island to ride and race the New England motocross circuit and do quite well, but it's too expensive to keep going off-Island.
So with that being said please help us help you save the trails while creating a safe place for the many riders who need it.
Two sets of rules
To the Editor:
OUI charges are plentiful, even here on our wonderful Island. Driving while under the influence of drugs is not a rarity either, recklessness closely monitored by local police. Yet at the opposite end of the Island lives a woman, with a known prescription drug problem, a fact that is known by friends, family and much of the local community.
Just this past Thursday, Feb. 16, my police scanner announced that this woman was being pulled over and with both of her children with her, backup was requested by the officer on scene.
After some time, a ride was arranged by the police department to take this woman home, leaving her two children with the officers who had contacted a third party, a friend, to retrieve them.
Now, I don't know about you, but if it were me, I would fully expect an escort to jail and a phone call placed to DSS to take the children.
Why wasn't she allowed to drive home? If she was operating in a negligent manner, why was she driven home and not jailed. If she wasn't under the influence of anything, why didn't the children accompany her with the officer on the ride home?
Why are there apparently two sets of rules? Is it based on gender? Is it based on friendship? Is it based on ethnicity? Why is it that someone who needs help, a fact known to all, is allowed to operate as is? Why do they enable? Action must take place and take place now before a call is placed, not to friend but to the medical examiner to retrieve the children.
MVC disregards MCAD
To the Editor:
The African-American presence on the Island of Martha's Vineyard predates the American revolution of 1775. Slavery persisted in Massachusetts until 1783, when the court declared that slavery had no legal basis. However many African-Americans still lived in servitude on the Island after the Massachusetts decree and the Emancipation Proclamation.
The African American presence on Martha's Vineyard is steadily being eroded by calculated plans and designs of certain agencies, especially the Martha's Vineyard Commission, due to the extraordinary powers granted to them by the legislature to legally discriminate by using indefinable methods of benefits and detriments.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission has decided that they are above the law and that there are no laws that can govern, regulate or change their policies and practices [because] they have placed themselves above the Massachusetts General Laws, The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the Governor's Executive Order #452, and even the tenets and laws of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
As part of their public relations campaign to discredit my complaint of discrimination, the MVC has sought and received the opinion from various African-American individuals and organizations to state "we have not experienced discrimination on Martha's Vineyard, or from the Martha's Vineyard Commission." It is ironic, however, that Superior Court Judge O'Neill ruled in a memorandum decision dated May 23, 1990 that cites the racist attitudes of exclusion that exists on Martha's Vineyard. He states: "Mr. Robinson has been a seasonal visitor and resident of Oak Bluffs on a regular basis for a great many years. Mr. Robinson is an African-American, and Oak Bluffs has, since the memory of man known not to the contrary, been a place of gathering of many, many Afro American's, particularly professional and business people and their families during the summer season. He was aware that as a practical matter virtually no private association or clubs were available in Oak Bluffs to members of his race. Accordingly, he formed the Martha's Vineyard Racquet & Fitness Club to fill the void that understandably and reasonably he perceived to exist." It is unfortunate that as a racial group we have different thresholds of pain.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission does not employ African-Americans in any capacity, neither on their professional staff nor on their maintenance staff, [and] it is common knowledge on Martha's Vineyard and among the black visitors who vacation here from many parts of the United States that we are subject to the personal whims and wishes of the commission and its commissioners. The real estate agents on the commission employ tactics that make it difficult for African-Americans to move to certain towns on the Island and perpetuate a "lilywhite" community in those residential areas.
Throughout the United States the long historic presence of African-Americans on Martha's Vineyard are aware of the opposition to African-American business attempts. In the national issuance by Harper Collins press and written by Lawrence Otis Graham the book "Our Kind of People: Inside of America's Black Upper Class" he states "A critical area in which blacks has failed to succeed on the Vineyard is their ability to establish businesses there. In fact, given the concentration of well-educated, sophisticated black business people who vacation on the Island, I am struck by the dearth of black enterprises in the area. . . . We are the richest blacks in the country, and we have virtually no businesses here, says an embarrassed Oak Bluffs resident whose family has summered here for three generations."
The Martha's Vineyard Commission is the primary and major source of leverage against us; this is due to the fact that they have jurisdiction over any business that wants to start on the Vineyard. The MVC uses as one of their favorite tactics an attempt to bankrupt the applicant, which means that most African-Americans endure and suffer their policies of exclusion and selective enforcement of their policies of denial to black applicants and those seeking employment.
It is very debilitating as we endure this legacy of racism, even though our parents, before us and our children and grandchildren must now continue to bear this cross of institutionalized prejudice. It would also condemn future generations of our families to the same racial horrors that have persisted since the MVC was created.
This scourge that has prevailed against us individually and as a racial group must end and will end.
Jack E. Robinson
Thanks to all
To the Editor:
To all the contributors to the 2005 Tree of Lights:
The committee thanks all of you for your continued support. Our thanks to Audrey Morgan Leaf who lit the tree, Dorothy Bangs for providing entertainment and the Rev. Robert Edmonds for giving the convocation at this year's Tree of Lights ceremony, held on December 19, 2005.
The Tree of Lights booklets are now available and may be picked up at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Volunteer Office. They are available free of charge. All donations raised from this year's Tree of Lights will go toward the hospital building fund. Thanks to all of you,
The 2005 Tree of Lights Committee
To the Editor:
Interesting letter by Wayne Iacono. Very auspicious that it appeared in the same edition of The Times that a well-written article about the problems with ATVs by Ezra Blair did, except the picture does not do justice to the damage that has been done by these motorized vehicles.
I have never met Mr. Iacono directly, only in passing you might say. Such as last month, early one Sunday morning when he passed my friends and I in his motor vehicle as we were riding our bikes on South Road in West Tisbury. We were headed up to King's Highway and the trails and hills of Chilmark. Mr. Iacono was by himself in the only vehicle on the road and was having a problem with his horn as it was blaring as he passed us and continued until he was out of earshot. Even stranger yet, he was in the other lane going the opposite direction.
Here, I thought, was one of my myriad fans, but it appears he's quite the something else.
I wonder at Mr. Iacono's concerns about me and my personal activities. What it had to do with the ATV problem in the State Forest, I don't know.
There is not a single spot that I cannot access in the State Forest with my bicycle. Our club, The Vineyard Off Road Bicycle Association (VORBA) has been riding in the State Forest for nigh on 18 years.
We have and continue to maintain every trail in the State Forest and are presently doing a survey of trail conditions there for Superintendent John Varkonda, such as trail blockage from trees downed during the winter storms. We will clear any needed trails ourselves, as we have done in years past.
We have even created new trails in the State Forest with the permission of Superintendent Varkonda and the help of Matthew Dix of the Land Bank and the use of Land Bank equipment.
After Hurricane Bob VORBA members spent every Sunday for months clearing trails throughout the Island, in the State Forest, Land Bank, Sheriffs Meadow, other Conservation Lands along with Ancient Ways every where. I have also been a member of the State Forest Advisory Committee representing one of the biggest user groups in the forest, cyclists. I represent Cyclists and Pedestrians in the Joint Transportation Committees and am also a member of the Bicyclist and Pedestrian Committee, both out of the MVC.
In regards to my feather-adorned helmet, I once asked then Environmental Police Officer Bill Searle about them years back when I was Mountain Bike Team Leader in the Dukes County Search and Rescue, if any of my feathers were illegal. They were all fine.
I haven't ridden any "three wheeled machines" for about 50 years or so and never had much need of training wheels either. All the bicycles I ride regardless of how long they are and how many people can ride on them have only two wheels. When was Mr. Iacono stuck behind me in "miles of traffic?" The only miles of stuck traffic I and my children encounter is when we ride past the mass self-induced vehicular gridlock. We aren't the cause of this traffic and we aren't stuck in it either.