Letters to the Editor
Former selectman defends the board, and his family
To the Editor:
Spring must have come in like a lion, because the political rhetoric in Oak Bluffs has been turned up about three notches. Unfortunately, my family and I have been drawn into the fire for no other reason than some people consider us to be very much part of the mix.
What fueled the fire? Well, to begin, for some reason the chairmanship of the Oak Bluffs board of selectman seems to some to be an entitlement. Nobody cares who chairs the board of health or the ZBA but only the board of selectman.
Why not give it to Kerry Scott? Well, the majority of the board didn't feel comfortable with her as a choice. Why? Well, let's look at recent history. There was the strain with office staff, hence Ms. Sharpe's resignation and the possible role that Ms. Scott played in Ms. Sharpe's departure. The self-admitted bashing of her fellow selectmen at the annual town meeting. She contacts town counsel without the permission of the chairman, at taxpayer expense.
If Ms. Scott were mainstream in her political philosophy, then she may find the numbers on the board to get elected, but this has not been the case, on almost all issues, she is outvoted 4-1 or 3-2. And, it was obvious by Ms. Scott's quote last week in The Times, that while she tried to be cordial, she had differences with Casey. She went on to praise Ms. Sharpe and said she was capable to run IBM, but Oak Bluffs was not a business. Why say you get along, then make a harsh point?
Last week, Linda Marinelli wrote another letter attacking members of my family. Mrs. Marinelli forgets that while she runs around accusing everyone else of wrongdoing, she will never be able to shed the fact that she is the only Oak Bluffs official to ever be found responsible for such improprieties. Yes, only Linda. She was declared to have acted unethically as a member of the board when she granted her own daughter a taxi license by casting the deciding vote. She was fined by the state of Massachusetts for this action. A taxi license that today is in violation. That license states that only two vehicles may be parked on the June Avenue property, and there are five or six parked most of the time.
Now, a judge has ruled against Ms. Scott in the case of her not installing handicapped access into her Circuit Avenue business. Remaining defiant on this issue may cost her credibility on enforcement issues in the future. I am willing to speculate on some other issues involving Ms. Scott. That the town will soon either lose or settle the Moujabbber/Taj Mahal case, because Ms. Scott may have tainted the town's case by coaching the neighbors behind the scenes, the same neighbors who are on the historic board and also abutters. This is a conflict of interest and may have crippled the town's case. She says the town won't lose the case, because she knows we are being forced to settle. That's not a win in my book.
Ms. Scott's advocating for an unlicensed beauty salon in the Copeland district, that had its waste flowing into our street drainage system, to continue operation without proper inspections and then pressing the board to pay for its hook-up to wastewater and to landscape the property on the taxpayers' backs is beyond me. If I lived in the Copeland district, the Campgrounds or in the business district, and I paid to be hooked up to the sewer system, I would be in contact with the selectman's office or even better the wastewater department. I would want the same treatment that this one property received, via Ms. Scott. We rewarded someone for being in non-compliance. There were dozens of requests from property owners to fix damage done by the wastewater construction, and they were turned away. This property got their hook-up and a check for $2,700. This was a back room deal and was orchestrated by Ms. Scott.
Then, to advocate for one of her loyal letter writers, Janice Rose, who operates a business on town property, and Ms. Scott wants to give her a waiver from some town license fees. This is the same license fee charged to the two vendors parked at the bridges. I am sure they would like the same relief. This is the same Janice Rose who wrote last week that I was on the campaign committee of Christine Todd. This is a blatant lie. I was never on any committee to elect any candidate this past year. Ms. Scott abstained on the vote to extend fire Chief Alley's contract, saying that she didn't know enough about it. He's been chief for how long? How much is there to know? Behind the scenes, she has been lobbying her fellow selectman to force the chief into retirement.
I don't need to defend Richard Combra for anything, but when Ms. Scott's loyal letter writers attack a family member and someone I respect and suggest he has issues with smart women, I say this: You don't know his wife very well. It is easy to kill projects, but it takes hard work to build schools and libraries and keep things like the harbor up to speed. It takes leadership and lots of good people to stay energized. Richard provided that leadership, and when you drive around town and see what a great town we have, know he played a role with may others in bringing these things together.
For the taxpayers there are two ways for government to cost you money, and that is overspending and poor management. We had a great team at the helm, and now that has fractured, so I ask the majority of the board of selectman to take one step, as they did back in the days on Katie Nunez and Linda Marinelli: Keep Ms. Scott away from the single most important employee the taxpayers have, the financial director Paul Manzi.
Fine whine in
To the Editor:
My, my. It appears to be a vintage year for whine in Oak Bluffs. I have read the correspondence concerning the alleged snub of Kerry Scott by her colleagues on the board of selectmen with growing irritation.
It would appear that most of the letter writers have short memories. Sexism? Just ask John Leite. He was denied the chairmanship of the board, too. Where was the hue and cry then? Expecting one's turn as chairman is akin to the Democrats expecting the Republicans to play nice and give them a turn at Speaker of the House. Fat chance.
Fair play? Life isn't a game, and neither is politics. We raised our son to expect that, from time to time, he wouldn't get his chance, and the less he made of it, the better. He survived. And while we're on the subject, where was Ms. Scott's sense of fair play when reviewing the candidates for the Community Preservation Act committee? My wife was one of two candidates who followed the procedures as outlined in the initial proposal. Yet, Ms. Scott chose to rewrite the rules when no other candidate had fully complied -and this in the name of "leveling of the playing field." My wife called this contributing to the "dumbing down of America", and I agree with her.
This whole attitude is part of the culture of complaint so prevalent in this country: if you don't like a result, complain until the rest of us get so tired of hearing your voice that we simply cave in. Shame on you. Americans are justly proud of our ability to compromise, and to find consensus. That's how 50 states have remained one country. There will always be disagreement. Get over it, and join in to find common ground.
To the Editor:
The Oak Bluffs selectmen's recent decisions regarding the vacant town administrator position are not in the best interest of the town nor the board itself.
The narrow window for applications - by my count, 17 business days from the board's May 23 decision to the June 16 deadline - is not enough time to identify candidates, much less allow them to investigate the position, consider its merits, and present an application. More troubling is the board's apparent reluctance to mount an adequate search.
The skills and experience required of a top-tier town administrator - management, organization, finance, knowledge of state and local law, etc. - are transferable. I am sure the board knows this. It must also realize that a well-qualified applicant now living elsewhere, perhaps a town administrator from another part of Massachusetts could bring to the town valuable expertise and a new perspective. If it is the board's intent to choose its administrator from among current residents to ensure a stable and long-term tenure, then it needs to recognize that this strategy has been less than bulletproof in the past. Only a comprehensive search will guarantee that we have the best talent from which to choose, regardless of the results of previous searches. The town deserves it; good sense requires it.
It also may be that the best candidate for the job has been here all along - all the better, perhaps. It may be Michael Dutton. But in the wake of Mr. Dutton's statement of interest in the job, the board's lack of willingness to pursue an adequate search hints of cronyism and closed-mindedness, which can only damage trust in the board. I urge the board to reconsider its thinking, specifically: extend the application period, advertise the position statewide and through relevant government publications, and appoint a qualified search committee.
Kris Wm. Chvatal
She explains it all
To the Editor:
I have been reading the papers lately and really have been biting my tongue, but I feel that's not my style. so here's my sound-off.
Regarding the game room: As a parent doing my best to keep my children away from the elements of drugs and alcohol, I only have one question on this subject. Why in the world would anyone put a family entertainment spot smack in the middle of the watering holes a/k/a bars of Circuit Ave.? Not to mention allowing those doors to be open like that. Picture this mom with two or more tikes roaming the game room. She turns to tend to one for a minute, when the other goes running right into the middle of Circuit Ave. summer traffic.
Regarding Casey Sharpe: For $87,000 per year in salary plus a housing allowance and health benefits, you couldn't handle questions from five people? Those same five people who answer to the taxpayers of this town. I'm sure someone else (Michael Dutton) would love your job. Good-bye!
Regarding the shark tournament: Sharks are almost extinct. Isn't that just a funny statement? Did anyone see the schools of sharks off the Florida coasts? How about the victims (deaths) of shark attacks that have been on the rise in the past two or three years? Oh yeah, it wasn't here in Amity. It's one weekend and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on Island. Can't please everyone. And in '05 it was the overflowing of the bathhouse that smelled worse than the sharks. If I'm not mistaken, that's a wastewater department problem, not the shark tournament's.
Regarding the Oak Bluffs selectmen with a hidden agenda: The truth will set you free.
Regarding immigration: Have any job you want just pay taxes like the rest of us.
Kudos to Janice Rose, Linda Marinelli, and Helen Scarborough for your great letters. Also to Kerry Scott: keep up the good work.
To the Editor:
I would like to respond to a letter in your paper from Fred Roven of Edgartown that was critical of the way in which the Steamship Authority treated a customer that showed up in Woods Hole with a truck, supposedly eight minutes after their noon reservation, for a fundraising event that night on the Vineyard.
Mr. Roven was misinformed and incorrect about several pertinent facts. There were actually three vehicles involved, none of which had reservations in either direction. The driver of the first vehicle decided to turn around and go back after learning that it might be a five- or six-hour wait in the standby line. There were approximately 50 cars and several trucks already waiting in the standby line on this Friday afternoon when these three trucks arrived in Woods Hole. According to our ticketing system, the drivers of the other two vehicles bought standby tickets at about 1:10 pm. To make matters more difficult, both trucks were over-height and over 20 feet in length. In addition, as the afternoon went on, the Woods Hole terminal personnel had to deal with a number of medical emergencies, including four or five ambulances. One truck did get on the 7:30 pm trip, and the other driver decided to redeem his standby ticket at 6:15 pm.
Nobody mentioned anything to us about the need to get to a fundraiser on the Island. If they had, we would have asked certain truckers with reservations for that afternoon if they would be willing to give up their reservation and go on a later trip.
Our terminal employees and vessel crews do a great job of working together to accommodate medical emergencies and other legitimate requests.
Thank you for allowing me to inform your readers of the actual facts and circumstances that led to "SSA in the Jackpot."
Wayne C. Lamson
To the Editor:
We are at budget time, and once again we find we have to ask for a Prop. 2.5 override because our assessments from outside agencies have gone up more than our revenues. Over the years we have eliminated all the frills from our budget and are down to the library budget, shellfish/harbor, and a small park and recreation budget that are left as actual budgets under town, rather than outside control.
We have been presented with a request from the building inspector's office that opens up an area that as a finance committee member, has been on my mind for a long time. The request is for a large increase in building permit fees that would make a permit for a modest 3,000-square-foot house cost $2,000. This is a serious issue.
We have a system that is at least 75 percent funded from real estate sources, and for a good number of years we have been following a path that is quickly killing our real estate values and leaving us at serious risk of financial disaster. The basic fact is that we have large outside bills to pay, and either we pay them or we encourage new people to invest in town to help us pay them.
The rules we have now in place drive people away. We tax people on square footage but make people build small houses they do not want and that are not going to be wanted when the owners need to sell them. They will not produce high revenue ever. If people could build good houses, they would pay more now and forever. We tax people for views but discourage them from clearing their views. Soon we will have people asking for abatements.
The archeological review process is a program that is illegal and serves no purpose other than to scare people away, as it was intended to do. If we really want people to stay away they will as the last five or six years of real estate sales show. No one wants to move here if they have to deal with the boards, unless they are professional investors rather than homeowners. This atmosphere means that the landowners who have held land for years have to sell their lands cheaply, and the speculators make the profits rather than the landowners who have tended the land for years and paid the taxes. Our policies should favor the taxpayers rather than speculators.
A further effort of our new rules has been to try to make people build low, sprawling one-story houses that are a very poor use of land, energy, and tax dollars. Somehow it has been decided that new people have no right to even be seen, as if they were some kind of environmental blight. Apparently it is okay to move here if you stay invisible.
How we can use our rules to make people build houses that do not have the basic right to energy efficiency, views, and a simple right of choice is beyond me. We have ruined our quality of life in the name of saving it. Insisting on bad development is not conservation. Creating a system of overly complex rules that mean only those with lawyers get what they want is not conservation, rather it is refusing to be respectful.
We can go a long way towards fixing our rules with some simple changes:
1. Raise the entry level for special permits to 5,000 square feet of development.
2. Encourage people to build two-story houses. The new house on Sunset Way is a good example of a low two-story house with the second floor integrated into the roof line that could go anywhere without harming the spirit of the town.
3. Eliminate archaeological reviews. There are already rules and laws to protect sensitive sites. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for no apparent gain and much obvious damage to our town's image.
4. Encourage people to clear their views and invest in their properties. We have a large number of houses built on low budgets that are in need of upgrading. Our current rules kill the value of these houses because people are afraid they will not be able to renovate them in a reasonable way.
5. Stop trying to find a new legal system on which to base rules that intrude so far into the lives of fellow citizens as to tell them what to cut or plant or how to live; by telling them they cannot have the room for a dining room or a garage or an extra bedroom for their grandmother. As national politics are showing us so clearly, it is all too easy to lose our civil rights. If democracy cannot work in a small town, it cannot work anywhere.
6. Eliminate the building cap. This was supposed to expire. We still have it. Why?
The choice is one that to me is easy to make, as I do not like these rules for philosophical reasons, and no one I know does. The fact that they are a financial disaster is only one problem. The move toward these rules was an Island-wide one that failed. The other towns refused to accept giving over control to the MVC. Because we did, we are holding the bag. Our voters were lied to in many ways. We were promised that our rights were only suspended for a short period of time as new rules were formulated. A major lie. We still have a building cap years later. We cannot even put a new steeple on the church without applying to the commission to see if a simple structure is a development of regional impact. We could not handle the simple subdivision of a longtime citizen's property without permission of out-of-towners. We are constantly in court with people who only want to use their property according to the laws of Massachusetts. Let us try democracy; if it will not work in Aquinnah, it cannot work anywhere.
The best way for the voters of Aquinnah to raise revenue is to increase the value of our town and generate tax revenue by earning it. Anyone who tells us it is in our interest to destroy our values for some vague idea of conservation has other hidden agendas.
Member Aquinnah Finance Committee
Deer not responsible
To the Editor:
The MSPCA recognizes the community's concern about Lyme disease. History has shown that reducing the number of deer in an area will not reduce the number of ticks or tick-borne diseases. To reduce the number of tick-borne diseases, efforts should focus on reducing the number of nymph ticks instead of one of the ticks' hosts.
Adult ticks feeding on deer are not the greatest threat to humans. Deer ticks have a two-year life cycle with three stages: larvae, nymph and adult. In the spring, eggs hatch into larvae, which are not born infected. However, if the larvae's host (usually a mouse) is infected, it too may become infected. When the larvae turn into nymphs in the fall, it usually feeds on mice, small mammals and birds, not deer. According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, due to its small size, an infected nymph tick is unnoticed until they are fully engorged and "therefore responsible for the majority of human Lyme disease cases."
Studies have shown that reducing a deer herd would not greatly reduce the number of ticks until the host density approaches zero. Reducing the herd will only result in more ticks per deer, not fewer ticks. Extending the deer hunt by a week only offers the public a false sense of security. The hunt would focus on reducing the number of females while research has found that the males tend to carry up to five times as many ticks as the females.
More effective ways to reduce the number of ticks include increased education; installing deer treatment bait stations, which would treat 90 percent of ticks attached to a deer; habitat modification to reduce the number of ticks in high-use areas; and the use of Damminix to treat ticks at the larval stage.
The MSPCA believes that the public deserves practical, effective solutions to this very important public health concern, not increased hunting opportunities that are touted as being in the public's best interest. Reducing the deer herd is merely a Band-Aid solution that will do nothing to really address this issue. For more information, contact the MSPCA at www.livingwithwildlife.org or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's about responsibility
To the Editor:
I am not a teetotaler. I am not an alcoholic. I have an occasional alcoholic beverage.
I was deeply saddened and infuriated at the same time while reading the article, "Internal dispute splits Camp Jabberwocky." Camp Jabberwocky is one of our great Island institutions.
This dispute is not about "trust." It is not about having "a fiery spirit." And it is not about being "fearful." It is about responsibility. Responsibility of a manager to his/her employees, counselors. Responsibility of an employee, counselor, to a client or camper. Responsibility of a board to its organization.
It is very sad that Gillian Butchman thinks people cannot communicate and be relaxed around "a campfire" without beer or alcohol. Sadly this is exactly the attitude on Martha's Vineyard that far too many people have and it is just this attitude that helps foster the deep-seated alcohol problems so many of our residents, both adults and children, face.
I could go on for pages, but I won't. I hope that Ms. Butchman can reconsider her unfortunate decision. Especially the part that forces counselors and campers to choose between camps. As a fan of Ken Kesey, I think you, Ms. Butchman, are "off the bus," and it also unfortunately appears, off the Island.
Where help is needed
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to the Edgartown board of assessors and the Edgartown board of selectmen.
There are many senior citizens of Edgartown with limited, fixed incomes who find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the residential tax increases. Longtime homes, in many cases modest homes that have been in families for generations, in modest neighborhoods, now find valuations have accelerated beyond belief.
In my case, not only has the valuation on my house escalated, but the taxes for my adjoining pieces of land have as well. Keeping open space seems to be a goal of the town, and yet if this trend continues, we will be forced to sell everything. This leads to more building and attending town services. Your criteria for abatements, because of the whole skewered recent valuations, do not allow me to qualify. When we were allowed a break on our contiguous lots it made taxes more manageable.
The emphasis on affordable housing makes me wonder how it will be possible to exist at all when the squeeze is put on retirees and young families. The heart of the town is being infiltrated by huge, trophy homes occupied only a few months a year, driving up the overall tax rate. We working people and retirees who live here year-round are struggling to keep our heads above water. We need alleviation.
Jean M. Andrews
To the Editor:
In response to a recent article and letter, I'd like to clarify some misconceptions about the Martha's Vineyard Commission's approval the World Revival Church, as it affected the number of church services and activities.
When reviewing a proposed Development of Regional Impact, the Commission looks at a whole range of issues, including traffic, parking, and water quality. The commission asks for a clear explanation of the proposed uses of the property, so it can analyze these impacts.
The WRC was proposed in the watershed of Sengekontacket Pond, which has deteriorating water quality due to excessive nitrogen, coming mainly from septic systems. As with all other projects, the applicants specified their planned usage, including the number of services and special activities; these met the nitrogen-loading limit established for the watershed.
During the hearing, some commissioners raised concerns that these limits might constrain the church's activities, but the WRC insisted that it was comfortable with this approach. In addition to meeting water-quality standards, the project as finally approved resulted in many improvements over the original design, including a revised building design more in harmony with the neighborhood character and preservation of considerable open space.
In reviewing the written decision, some commissioners again were concerned that the applicants' offer to limit the number of special activities might, some time in the future, be interpreted by an overzealous building inspector to excessively restrict the church's normal activities. After some attempt to find a more flexible phrasing, the applicants again assured the commission that they were comfortable with the phrasing, and the commissioners decided to leave the wording as it had been offered by the applicant. The commissioners then assured the church representatives that, if it posed a problem in the future, they could come back to the commission and ask for a modification of the condition.
Martha's Vineyard Commission
Boot the MVC
To the Editor:
The perennial, dysfunctional, generally anti-business and anti-growth Martha's Vineyard Commission is at it again. The contrarian majority of commissioners in a last-ditch effort to prevent our hospital from rebuilding in its present location has thrown up a "straw man" in the form of a CFA study for a "100-year storm!"
That money might be better spent on a study of the likelihood of a I00-year large fixed or rotary wing aircraft crash in the vicinity of the old blinker light/four-way stop/four corners. To wit: will it be the high school campus/Community Services complex/ice rink/swimming pool (projected) section/or a brand-new hospital campus that an errant aircraft might impact when taking off or landing from nearby airport runways?
A request for an Island-wide plebiscite at the ballot box would have been a far more responsible and realistic approach on the part of the commission, to advance its highly subjective point of view, as to location for a new hospital.
There are very compelling reasons for keeping the hospital where it is: it is at the Island's year-round demographic and business center; it is close enough for many residents to walk or bike to; it is close to two town police, fire (town ambulances), and highway departments; close to the Steamship Authority terminals; it is convenient for up-Islanders as well who spend their money in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs as a result. Build it inland at the four corners, and that substantial year-round trade will go to Edgartown instead!
It is past time for fair-minded Islanders to give the perverse commissioners the "boots."
Peter Colt Josephs
can do it
To the Editor:
The severe lack of affordable housing in Chilmark affects not only the people who need it but also the whole community. We need the young people, the children in the under-enrolled Chilmark School, the teachers, the firefighters, the police officers, and the people who help the large retired population.
Middle Line Road is not the only way for Chilmark to get more affordable housing. While the new committee and the selectmen will undoubtedly work hard to get the job done as soon as possible, there are things than can be done immediately to open more affordable housing opportunities.
Individuals and families with an acre to spare can carve off that acre for a homesite. The Chilmark housing committee and the planning board will work with you to make it happen quickly. You can choose purchasers for your homesite, as long as they meet eligibility requirements for affordable housing. Or you can offer your acre for a lottery conducted by the selectmen for eligible purchasers.
If you have more than one acre, you can sell it at a reduced price for affordable housing to a non-profit organization and receive a tax benefit set at the difference between the assessed value of your land and the selling price. Again, the housing committee and the planning board will help you do this.
If you have one or more houses that you rent seasonally, you can turn them into year-round rentals. If you need help converting your property into year-round residences, such as improving insulation and providing a heating system, the town can help you financially to do this. The town subsidizes these rentals for the difference between what the tenants can pay and what the landlord can reasonably charge. You can work with the housing committee in selecting eligible applicants with a history of living, working or volunteering in Chilmark.
Call Debbie Cini at 508-645-2114 for more information on how we can help you create a homesite, sell land for affordable housing and set up a year-round rental.
The town can immediately start work on planning for affordable housing on town-owned property in addition to Middle Line. It can carve out several affordable lots at its property on Peaked Hill. It can prepare the long delayed Engley property for affordable housing. And it can keep its eyes out for other property, such as unbuildable lots and tax takings that could be used for affordable housing.
As a founder of the first housing advisory committee established by the planning board in 2000 and as a member since 2001 of the Chilmark housing committee, I know I speak for my fellow members on both committees over the years and in the name of the late Molly Flender when I say: If we work together, we can do it now.
Zelda (Zee) Gamson
To the Editor:
"Because I said so, that's why." Do you remember hearing that response from your parents when you were a child? That is what the zoning board of appeals of Chilmark stated last Tuesday evening in response to Lifestyle Development Group's proposal.
I feel Chilmark has missed an opportunity. The group looking to purchase the Inn at Blueberry Hill agreed to all of the conditions, terms and restrictions laid out by the board, including keeping the restaurant and the walking trails open to the public. Can you imagine the good the Guggenheim Group/ Nature Conservancy could do for the Island? They are a large philanthropic organization. Doesn't the hospital need help? How about the Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA or the senior centers or Meals on Wheels or Windemere?
I have been the executive chef at Theo's at The Inn at Blueberry Hill since the very beginning. When Lewis King wanted to sell the property to Bob and Carolyn Burgess, the questions flew. Who are these people? They have no ties to the Island. They are from Connecticut of all places. Well, they were put through the mill of town politics and public opinion, and Mr. King was able to sell his beautiful property. Plenty of funds were put into improvements and amenities to showcase the outstanding facilities the property now contains. I should mention that more than $100,000 was put into the septic system alone; at that time the septic system was in the wetlands.
Fast forward. The Mandells have taken over, and I'm still running the kitchen. It has been 11 seasons, and we are beginning our 12th summer. The same people that were in opposition then are still in opposition. The ZBA feels Theo's should still stay open to the public; as chef, I'll take that as a compliment, left-handed as it seems. In the 11 seasons, I can count on one hand the town officials that have supported Theo's by coming to dinner.
Now the Mandells would like to retire. Anyone that works in the hospitality industry knows dealing with the public takes its toll. Perhaps the next buyer will want the property for a private residence. What would be the result then? No room tax revenue for the town. No job for me or any of my 20-plus co-workers, no restaurant open to the public, no donations of food and funds, just more of the "right kind of people."
Shouldn't the applicant at the very least expect valid reasons for denial? Think about it.
Chef Robin Ledoux-Forte
The Inn at Blueberry Hill
Sharks not an enemy
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the Oak Bluffs selectmen:
I would like to weigh in (verbally, that is) on the annual shark tournament held in our town.
I don't know much about sharks but, to my knowledge, they have not to date landed themselves on our Island and slaughtered us wholesale, then strung us up like so many trophies. They seem to be trying to go about their lives in their own habitat and not threatening us with annihilation.
I evidently don't know much about man, either, for I cannot understand why some of us take such pleasure in destroying life - for fun? Since when is causing pain and death for fun acceptable human behavior? Why is every animal and fish on earth held hostage to our obsessive cruelty? Why are we destroying the house in which we live - our oceans, our terra firma? Why can't we learn to respect the natural balance of living things?
I was proud that our town seemed to care about our environment. I can't believe you selectmen are allowing this event to continue.
sends them elsewhere
To the Editor:
My wife and I have vacationed many times on Martha's Vineyard, but we have decided to vacation elsewhere after hearing about the Oak Bluffs Shark tournament. Mass shark killing contests are not only cruel, but they also target members of already imperiled populations of slow breeding and ecologically important shark species. Like whales, most species of sharks reproduce late in life - some are as old as 20 years - and give birth to few young. It can take decades for populations to recover from being killed in large numbers by fishermen.
We won't be spending any more time on Martha's Vineyard until this event is cancelled for good.
Danger for cyclists
To the Editor:
On May 25, my daughter and I were riding back from town after checking the mail, having a treat from the Martha's Vineyard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery and picking up a few groceries at Reliable. With the good weather and gas close to $4 a gallon for regular, there has been an increase in bicycle traffic beyond what I have seen in years past.
We were on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven bike path when up the road a bit at the crest of the hill is a NSTAR electric company bucket truck and a chipper parked on the path completely blocking it. They were trimming branches that were too close to the power lines. To get around it means one has to pull out into on coming 45-plus mph traffic. I got around it okay but told the guy throwing branches into the chipper that they needed a police detail as their blocking the path is a public endangerment. He didn't seem to understand what I was saying.
I do understand the need to keep the lines clear but not at the expense and safety of the cyclists and pedestrians using the path.
When I got home I called the police and the selectmen's office and the NSTAR main office on the mainland, as they are not even listed on Island.
I told the person at NSTAR that as bad as it is to ride around the truck, walking would have been even worse, as my daughter is autistic, and I would not feel safe walking with her and pushing our 80-pound bicycle in oncoming traffic at the same time.
The selectmen's office also called the police after I talked to them, and the police sent out an officer to check out the problem.
I later received a return call from the person I had talked to at NSTAR, and she told me that the crew had been pulled off the tree trimming detail and will not be returning until they have a police officer on site. She said from now on they will always have a police detail on site when they need to work on the lines adjacent to the path.
My thanks to Alice Butler at the Oak Bluffs selectmen's office, The Oak Bluffs police department and NSTAR for recognizing the potential danger in parking on the bike paths. Now if we can only get it through to the rest of the motoring public.
To the Editor:
This letter was first submitted May 22 and wasn't published. Most of the press avoided this story for a week after it broke. It's an uncomfortable one that has now become common knowledge.
Years of war, tens of thousands of lives lost, and billions of dollars have been spent to topple Saddam Hussein and put him on trial. He is being tried for the killing of citizens of a town where an assassination attempt had been made on his life.
It was reported in the New York Times on May 19 that after a roadside bomb killed an American soldier, our troops stormed into nearby houses and executed about 24 civilians, including I I women and children. They also pulled five men from a car and shot each in the head.
Though the army's press statement said the townspeople died in the bomb blast and was later changed to say they were killed in a firefight with insurgents, photos show that all had been shot in the head at close range in their homes, some while praying, with no evidence of a battle.
The military quietly removed three officers from their posts after this incident. No one was arrested. To his credit, Congressman Murtha of Pennsylvania brought this story to the public's attention, but his take on it was that our troops were so stressed that they just overreacted.
A bit ironic? When it's Saddam, it's called crimes against humanity, retribution killings, torture at Abu Graib. When our own do the same thing, we call it the result of stress. We should be very suspicious of news stories referring to the killing of "suspected insurgents." Veterans speaking out against the war are telling of many cases of civilian killings, some just for sport. It's excused if it's said that the victims were planting roadside bombs. Sometimes a shovel is dropped by the body.
If you are horrified by killing, then don't kill. Don't sponsor killing, don't excuse killing, don't glorify killers. Sadly, it seems to be our nature to want to justify brutality, to dehumanize an enemy and thus ourselves. I'm afraid that by definition soldiers are people made into killing machines, trained to kill on command. It takes a lot of conditioning; it's not a natural thing to kill your fellow human beings. But there will always be a reason to go to war - and every war comes down to the one with the most firepower defeating the other - and otherwise good people killing innocents.
Are Americans inherently good? Bush says we must not question our rightness. But we must always question ourselves - it's not easy to go against the status quo - "support the troops" - even the anti-war protesters chant it - but it's troops who kill in the name of freedom, who are not permitted to question their superiors and have throughout history caused the most suffering in the world.
I say, support the person with a conscience inside the uniform, not the uniform itself. Let's bring these young people back home where maybe they can do something useful with their lives.
End the war now
To the Editor:
On this Memorial Day, I remember all the soldiers killed in the war in Iraq. I remember their families and friends, all those who will never see them again. I also remember the Iraqis who have been killed, up to 100,000, some reports say. But today most of all I remember the 24 we slaughtered at Haditha, the children and women as well as the men, the one who was praying and the one who answered the door, saying "I am a friend. Do not shoot."
The only fitting testament to their memory is to end this war now.
To the Editor:
On May 10 of this year, the staff of the Tisbury School was recognized by the Tisbury parents with a special luncheon in their honor. Many parents, working both at home and in the community, took time off from their daily agendas to bring colorful salads, hearty sandwiches, and luscious desserts to the luncheon. Our staff was greatly appreciative of the luncheon and of the time parents took to honor them during Teacher Appreciation Week.
The event was chaired by parent Esther Teves. A special thanks her and to the following parents who organized and helped serve the luncheon: Zoe Petricone, Heidi Rydzewski, Tammy King, Kathy Donnegan, Marie Barton, Nicole Barlett, Liz Trotter, Karen Medeiros, Jennifer Lyonnais, Rainy Goodale, Margaret Curtin, Colleen McAndrews, and Nicole Piggott. We are so grateful for our parents.
Remember a veteran
To the Editor:
I enjoy reading The Times each week on the Internet; with my income it's cheaper than a subscription, although I always enjoyed reading it when on the Vineyard.
I was reading the Tisbury news, with Kay Mayhew, and she was listing the new flags to be flown this year.
I was on the Island briefly for Jack Nevin's funeral, to help with Nancy and her family. Jack was a veteran, and I just wanted to call that to your attention.
I wish you and all the Island's people a wonderful memorable Memorial Day weekend. I miss the march to the sea in Tisbury - such a touching tradition.
Hooray for the Chilmark School
To the Editor:
Thank you so much to the Chilmark School second- and fifth-graders for their wonderful Energy Fair on May 24. The presenters of hydropower, solar and wind technologies, lighting and energy were all so knowledgeable and the displays impressive. It makes me hopeful for what upcoming generations can do to improve our energy future. And thanks to Jack Regan, Jackie Guzalak, Nan and Warren Doty for their help in making it such a success.
Director The Vineyard Energy Project
Hats off to the children
To the Editor:
While visiting our daughter, Oceana,
a crowd we did see,
And what we were to witness filled
our hearts with glee.
For on this lovely day, May 26, in
Vineyard Haven a Memorial Day Parade
Children happily carrying flags and
flowers honoring our heroes - U.S. made.
As older citizens of this country, we
were overcome with pride.
For a moment at least we could
put the woes of the world aside.
And so, hats off to the children -
the hope of our future,
So, as such, it's our duty to guide
them and nurture.
These treasures to whom we give
heartfelt, sincere appreciation.
For making this day special with flowers
and flags, they are an inspiration.
To the Editor:
As we buried our spunky little yellow cat (her name was Amelia) late in the afternoon of Wednesday, May 24, I found myself, in the hopelessness of my grief, making so many assumptions. In my recent years, I have tried to adopt and live by the belief that assumptions are never a good thing and that it is far more evolved to allow for all possibilities and to learn all of the facts before drawing conclusions. But today my heart and mind were once again racing with them.
I found myself bent over a shovel in the back yard with friends and assuming that you, the driver who struck Amelia, were raging past on this strip of Skiff Avenue. I assumed that you were just another of the self-indulgent, thoughtless, and reckless drivers who race past here every day and every night. I assumed that you did not give her death another thought. In fact, I assumed that you probably did not even stop to see whether she might still be alive. But tonight, as I reflect on this horrible afternoon, the second loss of its kind in eight short months, I am trying to rearrange these thoughts, which have initially sprung from a well of grief at this second loss. Instead, I am assuming that you were traveling at the posted speed limit, although it is still a speed limit which all of us concur is entirely too fast for a street such as this. I am assuming that Amelia darted out in front of you so suddenly and that hitting her was unavoidable - hard to imagine since this stretch of road in front of our home is so highly visible in both directions. But I still want to believe.
And I assume that your heart was stopped in those brief seconds and that you were devastated. I assume that it was you who picked her up to place her small body on the sidewalk. I assume you perhaps knocked on a door or two in an attempt to let someone know that a neighbor had just lost this sweet pet. And I assume that you were saddened this evening and committed to driving these residential, closely inhabited neighborhoods with a more determined diligence and watchful eye. And that is how I prefer to end my day - breaking all of my convictions about the bad habit of making assumptions. I find that within these kinder assumptions, I am expressing my need to forgive rather than resent. But I am also reminding all who read this of one assumption that we must never ever make: do not assume that the next living thing you hit will not be a child. Please slow down.
To the Editor:
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the community people who helped or participated in the Edgartown School's "Our Special Town" open house. The day would not have been as successful without these "special" helpers.
Many thanks to Ted Morgan, The Edgartown Police, Morgan Hauck and The Edgartown Fire Station, Nis Kildegaard, Jay and Pat Schofield, Deb Barkley and The FARM Institute, Donaroma's, Liz Villard, Jose Sanambria, Bob Brown (and his tech crew of William, Ross, and Conor), Deb Yapp, MJ Aldrich-Moody, our office staff of Pam Cassidy, Pam Medeiros, Ellie Parece, Gina DeBettencourt and our lunch staff of Stacey, Joyce, and Melissa, The Martha's Vineyard Rotary Club's "Meeting of The Minds!" competitors, inclusive of Adam Wilson, Lori Herman, Jim Chirgwin, Ann Pellegrino, Art Flathers, Gary Cogley, and Frank Pellegrino, The Edgartown School Administration, our custodians, our terrific parents, the teachers, and everyone else who pitched in to help!
The biggest thank you, goes to the kids - our wonderful students, at the Edgartown School! Through their brilliance, hard work, creativity, and determination, the walls, halls, and classrooms were turned into a day of magic! They are the best!
Sue Costello, Nancy Nash, Michelle Pikor, Joseph Thibodeau, Natalie Thibodeau, Ann Hoyle, Maria Parker, Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, Lisa Cash, Vanessa Vento, Bill Mackenty, Liz Bradley, Beth Carr, Anne Caldwell, Bob Yapp, and Betsy Toler
To the Editor:
I loved the Mother's Day tributes and want to thank everyone responsible.
Mother's Day is very special for me because I have five grown children and 10 grandchildren, who all remembered me on that very special day.
And this year, I've been blessed with the newest addition to our family: Alyssia Lynn Marshall Sylvia. She is the daughter of Kara Marshall and Brandon Sylvia, making me a Great Grandmother. With honor and pride in my littlest angel, I've enclosed a picture of Alyssia and myself. Please print.
She is the fifth generation for true Islanders, from the line of the Andrades, the DeMellos, the Ferrierias, the Marshalls, and the Sylvias. Please welcome her.
Clara A. Marshall