Letters to the Editor
A matter of
To the Editor:
In 2006, alcoholism, substance abuse, and overeating come in as distant seconds to our greatest addiction that we can only see as debt. The magazine section of the June 11 New York Times was dedicated to "Debt: America's Scariest Addiction Is Getting Even Scarier." ?
The article "Reasons to Worry" suggests a needed pre-emptive effort for a group of Islanders who tried to address their affordable housing needs through adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). On page 50 at the top right column, the article identifies $600 billion in ARMs nationally that will come due in 24 months. On the "drop-dead date" the writer projects that monthly mortgage payments will increase 50 percent. How many health-care workers, teachers, policemen, young working couples do you know who bought their first $300,000-400,000 house within the past three years with ARMs? Can we afford to lose them and watch them go down in flames? Where will those live whom we will woo to replace them?
Just to get the dialogue going, I have included three possible approaches. In addition I have also included three new Island cleansing rituals to help us avoid, in just three days, 20 years of meetings (plus unbudgeted legal fees).
1. Develop a way that people with ARMs can re-finance with incentives to split ownership and occupancy with another family. Refinancing would include 20 percent for minimal retrofitting for basic conversion from a single to a two-household unit.??
2. Expand "living allowances" for categories of critical public safety jobs, health workers, and teachers in households with incomes below $70,000. ?
3. Build affordable rental units on public land for critical employees (home health workers/certified nursing assistants, teachers' aides) who make under $40,000.
Since we don't have a lot of time to beat up on ourselves and each other in this mess, let's start with a "get over it ceremony" with designated actors, "rescuers," in costumes who stamp their feet and scream epithets for two hours.
This is to be followed by a "get on with it ceremony" the next day.
On the third day we replace the three-years process for deciding whose territory it is for solving this problem with a set of "paint-ball war ceremonies" among self-identified stakeholders, including salaried planners and housing advocates. This will leave us the needed 24 months to address this problem.
To the Editor:
The Vineyard community deserves better than the argument your editorial page put forward last week in critique of the proposed Housing Bank legislation.
"Here's a true story," you begin, adding that the names are withheld "to protect the aspiring." Sadly, you've also withheld the financial facts, which serves no purpose except to prevent the facts from undercutting your argument.
Then comes your sob story of a young couple, former homeowners in another state, who begin their shopping for an Island home with an amount of equity you discreetly leave unstated. They find a tiny buildable lot, "something they can just afford," but then - dang it - they have to pay a Land Bank fee, "maybe another $8,000 or so." (This so they can enjoy, with the rest of us, the nearly 3,000 acres of beaches, woods and trails the Land Bank has saved to improve the quality of life for all of us, forever.)
The year of the young couple's purchase isn't specified in your story, but the $8,000 fee would put the cost of their "tiny lot" at $400,000. That was the median price of buildable lots on Martha's Vineyard in April of 2005. Had your protagonists purchased their lot in 2001, when the median price for buildable land was under $200,000, their Land Bank fee would have been "maybe another $4,000 or so." But that doesn't sound nearly so onerous, does it?
The story of this young couple's hardships continues with their eventual decision to sell their Vineyard real estate and move to Idaho. (Idaho - that's a wonderfully specific touch amid the factual fog.) But wait - dang it again - their house has appreciated in value, and getting out of this market will cost them: "The Housing Trust," you write, "will tithe them on the way out."
Now here's a whopper entirely unworthy of you. Tithing, as you know, means to give 10 percent, usually of one's income and usually to the church. The Martha's Vineyard Housing Bank Bill now before the state legislature would exact just one percent of a property's sale price - after exempting the first $750,000 - as a fee from the seller.
Let's say your sketchily-described couple, the pair for whom you want us to feel such sympathy, have managed to build up $100,000 of equity in their Vineyard property before selling for $800,000. In that case, they would indeed be asked to support the Housing Bank's efforts to help other families like them own homes on the Island. They'd be asked, specifically, to give back - drum roll, please - five hundred bucks.
Finally, a quick scan of the MLS listings suggests that an excellent four-bedroom home in Boise can be had for about $200,000, which leaves our sob-story couple with a capital gains problem totaling about $299,500. Never mind the Housing Bank: They need a strategy for dealing with Uncle Sam.
I've taken the liberty of plugging in a few numbers here because your editorial, so entirely lacking in them, might leave the wrong impression with readers. It might even leave the impression that your minds are so thoroughly made up, you'd prefer not to be pestered with facts.
the real threat
To the Editor:
The humane society is another gone-too-far group of extremists. These are the same people who follow catch and release fly fishermen around on trout streams and throw rocks in the water so they can't catch fish. In some states out west they've made laws to stop this foolishness. These same people release test animals at pharmaceutical companies, that are being used to cure diseases such as AIDS, cancer, bird flu, and many others, diseases that kill us and our children. Don't let these people with nothing better to do take away Island traditions, like sport fishing, because what's next? The Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.
Myself, I could care less about sport shark fishing. Nothing but good comes from this. It generates money for businesses, most of the sharks are released, scientific samples are taken to help learn more about sharks. The small amount of sharks taken are not hurting the population. In a world with so many problems, this bunch of misguided do-gooders can't find a different cause. I can give them a few: Genocide in Africa, global warming, child molesters, food and jobs for the poor, education, population, war, government corruption, just to name a few. These are the real problems.
We live in a world with certain people with way too much time on their hands. Next, this bunch of nutballs will be telling me I can't kill the fleas on my dog or kill ticks sucking my blood and giving me Lyme. They'll want to take my fly swatter away. I won't be able to kill the weeds in my yard because they have rights. Don't use your boat because the propeller will kill the jellyfish. Real Islanders, please stand up and stop this misguided bunch of nuts before they take away your Island life.
Herbert C. Tilton 3rd
Step away from
To the Editor:
The following is a copy of an e-mail sent to Mark London, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Commission:
June 25 through July 1 is Cape Cod alternative transportation week, and it is organized by the Cape Cod Commission.
What is the Martha's Vineyard Commission doing toward such an effort? Building roundabouts and bypasses are bandaids at best. The base problem is too many cars on Martha's Vineyard. We cannot keep accommodating one person to one car any longer. We will all lose in the long run.
I read in a British paper yesterday that even with a hefty congestion fee penalty for any who drive in the city of London and gas around $7 a gallon, traffic is so bad that the average trip speed in 2006 is two miles an hour slower than it was in 1906, one hundred years ago.
We need to move forward in getting drivers out of their cars or we too on this little Island will subject ourselves to a similar fate.
The city of London is heavily promoting bicycles instead of cars to mitigate the congestion and pollution. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Nothing has had a more adverse impact on this Island than the personal automobile.
To the Editor:
Having recently returned from a 10-day trip chaperoning students from the West Tisbury School on their annual exchange to England, I am filled with fond memories of very generous host families as well as pride over how well our students represented their school, the community, and their country.
For the past 11 years, the eighth grade students from the West Tisbury School have had the opportunity to experience an exchange with students from the UK. Every October, more than 40 students from Bridgewater and Shelley Schools near Manchester, England, visit Martha's Vineyard and the Boston area while staying with host families here on the Island. And, every June our students travel to the United Kingdom to stay with the families of students who visited us.
This year, the West Tisbury students spent time experiencing the history of Northern England through visits to York, Whitby, Scarborough, Sheffield, Leeds, and most of the Yorkshire countryside. They saw first-hand the effect and influence of the Romans, the Vikings, and the Normans on language, culture, religion, art and architecture. And, they spent time with young people just like them growing up in a challenging world while juggling the demands of schoolwork and family.
As parents of children attending Island schools, we know how terrific the quality of education is that our students receive, especially when compared to the rest of the state and the rest of the nation. We have the benefit of excellent teachers, small class sizes, and new infrastructure, something many other school districts would love to strive for. In addition, those of us fortunate enough to have children at the West Tisbury School get this fantastic exchange opportunity.
On behalf of all West Tisbury School parents, I want to thank Mr. Lane and Mr. Johnson for organizing the exchange, Mr. Holt for his support, and our hosts in the UK, Mr. Warner and Mr. Fear, for the excellent care they gave all of us.
But, most importantly, I want to thank and commend our students. I am very proud to be part of the community they represented so well. I hope that they each take away from this experience not only the memories of their time in England but also a bit more tolerance for other cultures and people now that they have made this visit. If they can carry this tolerance into adulthood, then we most certainly have hope that our world will be a much better place under their care.
To the Editor:
Habitat for Humanity had a wonderful fundraiser at the 4th Annual Art Auction, Dinner and More at the Harbor View Hotel. There was a sold-out audience enjoying the music of John Alaimo and bidding enthusiastically during dinner for the many art pieces being auctioned by Bob Glover. When the evening was over, Habitat set a new record for donations that will help make it possible to start on a new house for a deserving Martha's Vineyard family.
We want to thank the many people that made this night possible, and we cannot possibly list them all here. In particular there were the many Island artists that were the stars of the auction and we could not have this special night without their generous help. We gratefully thank our event underwriters: Rana DiOrio and William M. Lewis Jr. and Carol Sutton Lewis and our sponsors: Caldwell Banker Landmarks and John and Charlotte Klein.
Also, this night would not be the success that it was without the tireless efforts of the volunteers who worked to organize and assist during the evening. Hope MacLeod, Paula Catanese of Craftworks and Holly Alaimo of Dragonfly Gallery deserve our special thanks.
On behalf of Habitat, thanks to everyone that came and enjoyed this special evening.
For Habitat MV
To the Editor:
On behalf of American Legion Post 257 we would like to thank the following business for their generous donations of refreshments following the Memorial Day Parade: Cronig's Market, Island Food Products, Pepsi, Island Distributors, and Chilmark Water.
We would also like to thank all the participants: the Color Guard from Coast Guard Menemsha, Island Fire and Police Depts., The Sheriff's Dept., Boy & Girl Scouts, Tisbury School Music Dept., The Ladies Auxiliary of Post 257, and all the veterans.
Special thanks to Lauren Townes for the beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, Fred LaPiana for the sound system, Tom Rancich for the fantastic speech, The U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Cape Cod for the flyover, the Ladies Auxiliary for the delicious refreshments, and all the people who put up and took down the over 400 flags on The Avenue of Flags. We couldn't have done it without you.
Jo Ann Murphy
So much support
To the Editor:
We would like to thank everyone who attended our open house at Integrated Health Care on May 25. We have received so much support with our new business venture, and it has really made us appreciate the Island community in which we grew up.
We also very much appreciate the article Julian Wise wrote about us in The Times. Not only did he spotlight our business, but he touched on the housing issues the youth are confronted with on this Island. We are both involved and concerned about our Island community and the future of its youth.
We look forward to being an active part of the health-care community on the Vineyard and invite those of you that have not seen our office to come on by for a visit. Thank you.
Integrated Health Care
Dardanella Slavin, DC
Allyson Cook Metell, LMT
Impossible without you
To The Editor:
As many islanders know, Saferides has been operating on our Island since 1997. Over the past nine years, hundreds of rides have been given to hundreds of students in need of a safe ride home. This year was a very successful one. Whether it was the board testifying at the State House or attending leadership conferences on the Cape, Saferides was able to get a lot done this year.
All of this would not have been possible if it had not been for all of those who helped us in our Island community. I do not know what we would have done without all of the help from our advisor, Pam Carelli, who is the backbone of this program. We would also like to thank all of the police departments on the Island for helping us with everything this year and to EMTs Kyle Gatchell and Jeff Pratt for training more than 100 students and adults this year.
A very special thanks to the Women's Support Services, especially Ann Wallace, for also training all of those students. We would like to thank the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center in Vineyard Haven for allowing us to use the center as our base for the past two years.
Thank you to all of these people and groups for helping us have another successful year. Your support has been greatly appreciated.
For the Saferides Board
Objects to MVC critic
To the Editor:
Mark London may be from Canada, but that in no way affects the decisions made by the Martha's Vineyard Commission. William Kane needs to get his facts straight before he goes pointing fingers at Mr. London, blaming him for a decision he played no part in approving.
What Mr. Kane, along with many Island residents, I believe, fails to understand is that the staff of the MVC does not vote on the decisions passed by the commissioners. As a part-time staff member at the commission, I can verify that they work tirelessly, day and night, producing maps, charts, and statistics, taking water samples, counting traffic, writing reports, attending meetings, taking surveys, and countless other tasks, so that the commissioners are fully informed about whatever projects they are currently evaluating. The commissioners, who vote on each project that comes through the commission, are either elected by Vineyard voters or appointed by selectmen or the governor, both of whom are in turn elected by voters.
If Island residents like Mr. Kane don't like the decisions made by the commission, they should take it up with their town commission representative or selectmen, not simply sit at a computer and post a complaint unfairly attacking the commission's public face.
Mr. London's role at commission meetings is to preside over the meetings, making sure they run smoothly, not to influence the commissioners to vote for something that he believes should pass. Having a Canadian as the director of the MVC probably helps the Island more than it hinders it. Mr. London's foreign perspective on issues brings a new position to the table that otherwise might have been overlooked. If America is such a proud, supportive country, as Mr. Kane suggests, then why are we being so "un-American" in denying this foreigner the chance to be an integrated part of society?
And the last time I checked, the current US government was doing no better in separating itself from the religious sector.
A good neighbor
To the Editor:
Four hundred and fifty Islanders and visitors joined us at the Polly Hill Arboretum on Saturday, a picture-perfect Vineyard day, to celebrate the summer solstice. As the "food captain" for this event, I extend a special thank-you to Stop & Shop and Sam Kouhy, the manager of the Vineyard Haven store, for donating all the hot dogs, buns and condiments, lemonade and iced tea, cookies and paper goods, coolers and ice. Your generosity to the Arboretum (the Island's Central Park) contributed mightily to the success of the day.
Many thanks also to the other Stop & Shop employees who helped out with this large order, especially Sara and Michael. It is gratifying to know that Stop & Shop, a huge corporation, can also be a good neighbor.
Just a job
To the Editor:
As this letter reaches the editor, I will be employed at my fourth job this summer. While many courageously tackle two jobs to simply get by, I have only been looking for one decent full-time job to help pay my tuition bills.
Initially, I thought that I must be an undesirable employee. My grandmother, however, quickly grounded that fledgling theory when she reasoned, "Who wouldn't want a hard working, polite, Ivy League student like you?" After taking into account a grandmother's innate bias towards her grandchild, I figured that I must rank at least average on the "employee desirability scale."
So what is my problem with finding a job this summer? I've set my expectations too high; I demand respect. Just because I'm summer help, I will not be treated with the same lack of respect that so many vacationers are treated with. I do not wish this letter to become a rant, and therefore will not chronicle my experiences thus far.
Still, I insist that there must be a few respectful, straightforward and honest employers. These are the employers who demand respect and professionalism from their employees, not in the form of fictitious employee manuals, but by way of example. These employers are by and far hard to come by, but it is one of these I'm determined to find. I'll know this employer, not when I see him or her, but when a friend or past employer casually mentions that someone called the other day and asked about me.
If you ask for references, why not use them? You might learn something about your employee that will make a world of a difference.
To the Editor:
Please pass our thanks to Janet Hefler for her terrific (and thoughtful) article about the Youth Task Force. She thoroughly and accurately represented what we are trying to do and really captured the spirit of our efforts.
We especially appreciated her taking the time to interview and quote so many of the members of the task force because this truly is a community effort. Thank you.
For the Youth Task Force