Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
My apologies to the Methodists of Edgartown and to Mike Wallace for asserting that there is no Methodist Church in Edgartown. I did look in the yellow pages of the Verizon phone book, but when I didn't find a listing there, I failed to pursue the matter further. Mea culpa. I should have known an old pro like Mike Wallace wouldn't make such a mistake.
It's small consolation, but I suspect a lot of people don't realize the Old Whaling Church is Methodist. I hope my Methodist ancestors aren't rolling over in their graves.
Northampton and Oak Bluffs
To the Editor:
Last month's clinical and public Lyme disease forums represent the best of community partnership. Through the combined work of many, the public and the professional community had opportunities to engage in open, thoughtful and thought-provoking dialogues. Both sessions were standing room only, a reflection that tick-borne diseases are a significant public health issue confronting Martha's Vineyard, affecting our residents, our seasonal workers, and our visitors.
April's forums arose directly from public and professional concern about the consequences of developing a tick-borne disease, the desire to have the most up-to-date information about them, and the need to understand the controversies surrounding appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Dozens of questions were submitted from the Island, and from as far away as Oregon. The success of this series is in large part due to the interest of both the public and professional community.
Time constraints curtailed some of the forum's questions. We submitted these questions to our moderator, Dr. Bela Matyas, and our panelists Drs. Donta, Halperin, Kalish, Krause and Telford for their replies. So that all of us can all learn together, a web site will be up shortly that will post each question and its answer. Please check the county web site at www.dukescounty.org after May 22 for more information about the tick Q & A web site. Information about the MVTV broadcasts will also be available.
We would like to gratefully thank Michael and Liz Zane for their vision - that the price of a walk in the woods should not be a cost to one's health; our moderator and panelists for their open and thoughtful presentations; to the County of Dukes County; the Martha's Vineyard Hospital; the Martha's Vineyard Tick Task Force for their substantial donation of time and effort; our local papers for their superb coverage of this important Island issue, MVTV for taping the public forum; and Sam Feldman and Dr. Pieter Pil for helping us broadcast the public forum with Portuguese subtitles. Thanks also to Adelphia, WMVY radio, and the Martha's Vineyard school system for helping us advertise these events.
Scientific excellence and safe clinical practice is made up of inquiring minds, careful clinical observation, solid research, and constructive debate. We thank the public and professional colleagues for the continuing commitment towards ensuring that our community has the best possible tools available for preventing, diagnosing, treating, and one day eradicating tick-borne diseases.
Karen Casper, M.D., Donna Enos, R.N., Ilene J. Klein, M.D., Sanders Shapiro, M.D., Barbara Conroy, Sam Feldman, Kendra Read
Lyme Forum Steering
the Lyme info
To the Editor:
Thanks for the great article on Lyme disease as well as other tick-borne illnesses. Awareness is everything. I nearly died of seronegative - blood tests were negative - Lyme disease. I now test positive after treatment with long-term antibiotics. I wish that my community in Florida was as proactive as yours. A great site for more information is ILADS. Best to you.
Pamela Marks RN
To the Editor:
Recently, during my daughter Elisabeth's spring break from the West Tisbury School, we drove cross-country so we could move a car to the West Coast where we will be living again next fall. In order to make the trip more bearable for us and for Elisabeth, we decided to extend our time away to allow more frequent stops and a more leisurely pace. We also asked one of Elisabeth's good friends, Katie Mayhew, to join us.
In exchange for more time away from school we needed to make the trip instructional as well as scenic for Katie and Elisabeth. So we decided to take a southerly route through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. This would allow us to see some of the sites most notable in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s so the girls could complete a project for Ms. Wingate's eighth grade class.
While blessed with fine weather, we visited the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which was the site of a terrible bombing in 1963 that resulted in the death of four young black girls not too different in age from Elisabeth and Katie. Today we would call this a hate crime or a terrorist attack (not unlike the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, which we visited as well). Back then it was characterized as a terrible tragedy inflicted by a few citizens of Alabama who happened to be members of the Ku Klux Klan.
We toured the Civil Rights Institute across the street to view scenes of a segregated Birmingham in the 1950s (something that persisted for almost 100 years after the abolition of slavery) and found ourselves wondering what we would do if we lived in that place at that time. Would we have marched against this tragedy? What would we have felt about these four young girls whose only crime was being in their church getting ready for Sunday service? Would we have donated money to defend the cause of Civil Rights? Or would we have done nothing other than to feel sorrow for the events of the Civil Rights movement as they unfolded?
We found ourselves asking this question over and over when we visited the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Would we have joined him in his March on Memphis as he campaigned for the rights of black people for equal pay?
When we visited Central High School in Little Rock, site of the State of Arkansas' defiance of a federal law that mandated that all public schools be desegregated, this question of what we would do arose again. As parents, would we have sent our children into such a hateful place? As young people about to enter high school themselves, would Elisabeth and Katie bravely defy the abuse inflicted on the nine black youths who did choose to go? Would we do these things to defend the Civil Rights of others?
It is difficult, 40 years after many of these events, to not look back and assert that, of course, we would have done something. Of course we would have spoken out, marched, contributed to and protected the Civil Rights of those being singled out. And maybe we would have.
But then I think about today to try to put these events in context for Elisabeth and Katie. We are moving back to California, a state that by some estimates has over 10 million first-generation immigrants, some in the U.S. illegally. Crimes such as those inflicted on black people during the Civil Rights era are being committed against immigrants (legal or not) today. From unequal pay to poor housing conditions to inadequate schooling for the children of immigrants to hate crimes... all of these things are happening in the United States today, 2006.
Our own government seems unable to legally protect the rights of these individuals (as evidenced by the recent Immigration Legislation that did not pass) who are contributing to the economy, paying taxes, and raising families. Many would say that if they are here illegally then they are not entitled to the same rights as citizens. Yet we accept their work and we accept their taxes. Many would say that they are taking jobs away from legitimate citizens, yet I do not see legions of U.S. passport holders flocking to the Central Valley of California to pick lettuce or strawberries or to Silicon Valley to clean offices.
The same tactics that were used over 50 years ago to keep black people marginalized are being used today against our immigrant population and yet, where is their voice? Absent a Dr. Martin Luther King, who will speak for them? Isn't it all of us? Isn't it those of us who would have spoken out for civil rights in Alabama or Tennessee or Arkansas? Rather than asking ourselves what we would have done then, maybe it is better to ask ourselves: What Are We Doing Now?
So, as I think about a lesson for Elisabeth and Katie now that we are back in the comfortable confines of Martha's Vineyard, I can only challenge them not only to learn from the events of the past, but to act today. Civil rights was not something that was fought for and achieved 50 years ago. It is still a necessity to fight for today and may be for quite some time. And, if you really want to know what you would have done back then, just examine what you are doing today.
Reflecting on a very small but impactful experience when we were in the physical middle of the country - Amarillo, Texas - Elisabeth and Katie came back from a restroom with a chagrined look on their faces. Someone had written hate graffiti against immigrants on the wall of the women's bathroom. Their reaction: This is just wrong. And it is. And our message to them: we must do something about it now as we would have 50 years ago. Immigrant rights are civil rights, too.
Illegal immigrants not innocent
To the Editor:
The coddling of illegal aliens on Martha's Vineyard is a scandalous injustice against local Americans that must be immediately rectified. Similarly, the commercial conversion of residential neighborhoods into unregulated summer hotel zones must be debated publicly. Affordable housing groups, town and regional governments, and the local media alike miserably fail every day to honestly confront these two primary factors which are choking off local American workers from achieving their American Dream on the Island and beyond.
Illegal aliens every day take American jobs, reduce wages and benefits, export American dollars, and overcrowd what pathetic affordable housing that still exists. Where are the studies, inspections, investigations, and penalties? Some illegal aliens entering the country subsidize violent smuggling networks that also peddle in hard drugs, weapons, and tender-aged sex slaves. Once here, illegal aliens visit forgery shops in Boston for fake I.D.'s , driver's licenses, and car inspection stickers. Just look at the weekly police logs and court records!
Less than 20,000 American dollars can buy an illegal alien a house back home in Brazil, while most local American workers in their own American town have literally no chance for buying a house here. If all that weren't too much (and I believe it is), Martha's Vineyard houses are way over-assessed and way over-priced in major part because they are being illegally marketed as lucrative summer hotels. What is by zoning law intended to be a home residence or domicile is in practice perverted into a transient housing commercial cash engine, and nobody says squat.
Where are the laws, permits, regulations and taxes guiding, allowing and compensating for such blatant commercial use and abuse of housing property within residential zoning? Where are the bleeding heart housing groups and local leaders on all this? Wallowing in anemic ideas and hypocrisy, it appears.
This ghastly situation needs crowds to clearly shout the obvious, with neither racism nor excuses allowed. In sum, residentially zoned houses are not commercially legal summer hotels, and illegal aliens by fact of law are not immigrants, citizens, or innocent. There, I said it, and I feel better for it.
Now, watch the knees jerk!
It's a matter
To the Editor:
Immigration? What a joke? It's only an issue now because our economy is sputtering.
Everybody knows we have a large immigrant population here on the Vineyard. Everybody knows that we even have elected officials that have huge businesses built on employing dozens, if not hundreds, of illegal aliens.
So what. Why should we care? Nobody else seems to mind. Isn't that "free enterprise?" I actually support the immigrants. Do their countries suck so bad that they are willing to risk their lives, their well being, and their dignity to come here, to learn what it means to be truly "alienated?"
Yes they are here taking jobs. So what?
Has anyone even considered that the jobs that really matter, the manufacturing jobs, are not even happening any more in this country.
Let's remember who the majority of the immigrants are. They are our neighbors. They live down the road.
Does it make any sense to shift our manufacturing to our neighbors, in South and Central America and in Mexico, instead of to China, a country half way around the world, to a country whose military might is gigantic and could someday engage our military.
If more opportunity existed in those countries, I am sure that there would be less people willing to leave their homes and their country to risk their lives to cross the border to come to a country where they must live in constant fear and suffer such hardships that none of us could ever even begin to imagine, just so they can wash our floors or our dishes.
Finally, let's thank God for one thing, as I am sure the federal government is doing right now. Thank God that not one immigrant was shot or killed by one over-anxious police officer on Monday's "Walk Out." God help us when that day happens.
Stick to a
To the Editor:
The following letter was sent to Duncan Ross, chairman of the Oak Bluffs selectmen:
This is to express my concern regarding the process employed to designate the new chairman of the board of selectmen. Although there is nothing binding about the process being a simple chronological rotation, I believe deeply that this is the only way to ensure impartiality and I would urge you to consider adopting such a measure.
As a young woman living in the nation's capital, I recall being struck by the comment of a congressional aide who said that even the most unpopular representative has a constituency with a right to be heard. Using a strict rotation of the chairmanship would go a long way toward ensuring that democratic principle.
As an observer of this last election, I was troubled by actions that, in my opinion, gave the appearance of impropriety. I believe that the electorate is entitled to representatives who will think, act and vote independently. When sitting selectmen campaign so prominently to unseat one of their own, I believe that the autonomy of the new candidate is compromised.
In closing, I urge you to be vigorous in bringing to the public more information, especially about warrant articles, well in advance of voting. Towards that end, I look forward to hearings regarding the proposed new "town campus."
Margaret O. McGrath
Ought to be
Ms. Scott's turn
To the Editor:
Shame on you. Watching the last Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting on TV filled me with total disgust. My concern is over the choice of a new chairman. It was Kerry Scott's turn as tradition has been in the past. Shame on Michael Dutton for nominating his buddy. Michael has been on the board long enough to have known better. Shame on Duncan Ross for accepting the nomination. What is the hurry, Duncan? After all, you are the junior member of the board and should wait and earn your turn, as Kerry has done. And, Greg Coogan, I am very disappointed with your decision to side with your buddies.
It very much sounds like we might be getting back to the era of the good ol' boys making decisions and deals in the back room, all in their lust for power and personal agenda.
When Kerry speaks, we, the people, are confident that she has done her homework first. Her decisions, along with Roger Wey, are always for the betterment of the people of Oak Bluffs. Kerry and Roger are, thank goodness, the voices of the people.
Yes, Kerry asks a lot of questions. If there is nothing to hide, these three guys should be able to answer them. God knows, we need a lot of answers.
Kerry and Roger, please keep asking questions and demand answers.
I guess that this all boils down to men not liking a woman smarter than they are.
Let's just keep
the current chief
To the Editor:
Attention all Tisbury shoppers. We are now offering discount police chiefs on aisle nine.
You might think I am joking, but that is how we are acting. It simply boggles my already sufficiently boggled mind that we are again looking for a new chief of police because of what appears to be a reasonable salary request. Oh yes, we collectively groan at the idea that someone might have a problem meeting the mortgage sized electrical bills and scoff at the reality that it would be cheaper to drill for oil in the backyard, but in the end it is priorities - and our priorities just don't make sense any longer.
Yes, I admit that we all must feel safer knowing that hundreds and thousands of dollars are spent on multiple "studies" of projects that will never see the light of day. I know that I sleep much more soundly knowing that those annoying library pillars will never assault my good taste again. Given the opportunity, we would spend months studying almost anything. So, why worry about something so trivial as the police?
If it were my decision, I'd double their salaries right off for having to deal with all of us. We inflate everything into a insurmountable crisis complete with summit meetings and debate and actually believe that such disasters like stolen tulips and noisy neighbors are much more important than, say, a nuclear Iran. I don't even want to know about the sorts of calls they must get from attention-starved Islanders needing a helping hand getting Mr. Fluffy out of the tree again.
And think for a moment of all the money we are spending on "studying" the drawbridge project. You would think we were planning the Yangtze dam in China from all of the delays and problems that have stalled any decision. I am now convinced that we are just going to let it collapse before we do anything about it (fortunately this probably won't be very long) and then have to spend thousands more for "environmental" studies on what the Piping Plover might think about the color or how it will affect the clams in a hundred years. And why are all of these studies done by the same people?
All of this squandered money and we can't give our police chief a raise?
We say we cherish our beautiful Island for its safety and "small-town" charm, yet we don't want to buy new vehicles for the police department, expand the force at all, or pay them decent wages. I guess that might indicate that we actually appreciate the safety they provide and thus eliminate one of our favorite whipping posts. No, we are much more comfortable with complaints and accusations and empty rhetoric. It is like the pathetic way that we talk about how much we love our pets and then turn our backs on funding animal control officers and their department. I assume words are much easier for most of us no matter how much of an echo they produce when spoken.
So, considering the money wasted on stalled projects and silly demands, why can't we just agree to pay our chief the increase requested? The raise in salary is not unreasonable and is in line with the increase in oil and gas prices as well as the increase in our cost of living. For once, can't we just be reasonable and practical?
Listen, the Tisbury police are not perfect, but I have found them to be fair and diligent when called upon, and open to criticism when it is deserved. It is a thankless job and they deserve our support once in a while. If you ever really need them, you will be glad that they are there.
So the game of musical chief will probably continue, and when the cruisers fall apart we will grudgingly buy another and continue to criticize our officers for the foreseeable future. But next time you feel that your safety is in jeopardy and you find the telephone at your deaf ear and your accusing finger punching in the numbers 9-1-1, just look around to see if the lawyers and bureaucrats who repeatedly get hired to do more "studies" are anywhere in sight. In the end, we always get what we pay for.
Vital and alive
To the Editor:
As I said in my recent Letter to the Editor, many Islanders assisted us with our annual camp for kids with HIV. It wasn't possible to recognize everyone in a single letter so, with permission of this paper, I'm writing a sort of second installment. I write this because I feel it is so important for those who live here to know just how vital and alive our Island year-round community is. Many worry that our Island identity is disappearing. I am here to tell you that is just not the case.
Imagine being a young child from the inner city. You board Jocko's bus and are transported to the wonderful world of the Flying Horses and The World of Reptiles. Panhead Mike and Robin at the Horses opened the doors wide for the kids to take their turns on the carousel. The giggles of delight could be heard outside the building. And to top it off, Gus Ben David entertained with his collection of exotic animals. The campers returned to the Hostel marveling that "Martha's Vineyard has everything; even snakes! " Barbara Lindley and Principal Binney shared the O.B. School Gym with our kids for indoor play when the sun was not shining perfectly. The Chilmark Community Center was the site of our annual Talent Show with sound support provided by Mike Barnes from Aboveground Records.
Talent abounded beyond the talent show. We were so surprised by the vocal abilities of our campers. Surely they would rival American Idol. With a donation from Barbara Dupree and the Chamber of Commerce, the kids had a raucous karaoke night. This was on the heels of a birthday celebration; really a celebration of life for each child with gifts donated from The Toy Box and WMVY. Richard Paradise provided an evening of film at the Katharine Cornell Theater where our campers enjoyed "Madagascar."
In the background of course there were those who helped make the week more comfortable. Nick and Takemmy Laundry provided bedding for the week which made a good night's sleep even better. Cottle's shared supplies with us for our boat building activity. Morrice the Florist once again donated many flowers for our Remembrance Celebration. The kids tossed flowers into the ocean in memory of loved ones lost to the AIDS epidemic.
Anyone who says our Island community is not as vibrant as it once was must take pause. Truly, the effort extended by these wonderful people, and those I mentioned before, prove beyond doubt that the Vineyard community remains as special as it ever was - unlike any other community that I can think of. Once again, The Safe Haven Project is so deeply grateful to each person for all they brought to the spirit of our camp.
Director of Programming
The Safe Haven Project Inc.