Letters to the Editor
His thoughts exactly
To the Editor:
I was so taken by the recent letter by Dan Cabot in The Times ("We can do better than slogans," June 29) that I Xeroxed and mailed off a number of copies with a note saying, in essence, "This is precisely what I would have written, if I had the same talent for expressing my thoughts that Mr. Cabot has for expressing my thoughts."
Congratulations on a fine piece of writing. I hope it will cause Times readers to think more clearly when exposed to the rhetoric emanating from Rove, Cheney and company.
Insurance needed against premium hikes
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Julianne M. Bowler, Commissioner of Insurance, Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
I write in response to a recent article in the Cape Cod Times, and essentially repeated in the July 13, 2006 edition of The Martha's Vineyard Times, concerning the FAIR Plans proposing an insurance rate increase. My spouse and I own a modest house on Martha's Vineyard, located about 3.5 miles from South Beach, and assessed by the town of Edgartown at $520,000. We are year-round residents and employed in education. During the 2003-4 year, our homeowner coverage was provided by Vermont Mutual at a cost of about $960 annually. They canceled our coverage after one year. During the 2004-5 year, The Providence insured us at a cost of $1,065. They also canceled our coverage after one year.
This current year, 2005-6, we are insured by the Massachusetts and Rhode Island FAIR Plans. Our initial premium for this year was about $1,660, an increase of 56 percent over the Providence rate. However, in April, 2006, the FAIR Plans re-evaluated the replacement value of our house and billed an additional $338 for the year. Thus, our current premium for 2005-6 is $2,009. This represents greater than an 85 percent increase from one year to the next.
If, as the Cape Cod Times article states, FAIR Plans president Jack Golembeski gains a 25 percent rate increase in the next few months, it will add about $500 to our existing $2,000 homeowner insurance premium. Further, Dan Cabot, writer of the The Martha's Vineyard Times article, quotes Mr. Golembeski stating, "It has been five or six years since we had a significant rate increase." With all due respect, an 85 percent increase is not only substantial but most probably statistically significant.
The Massachusetts-Rhode Island FAIR insures a large percentage of the property on Cape Cod and the Islands. In fact, many of my colleagues have seen their insurance canceled by other carriers. The risk of severe and even catastrophic loss from a hurricane is similarly real. To suggest otherwise is folly. However, what is also real, is that the premium increases that we have experienced over the past two years, unless curbed or somehow mitigated, will drive the middle-class work force from the Island. Also, please consider the effect of a 25 percent increase on working Vineyard residents who, together with Nantucket, already have the highest gasoline and home heating oil costs in Massachusetts.
I am sure your position as Commissioner of Insurance is replete with many difficult decisions, and Mr. Golembeski's rate request is clearly one of them. I ask you to please look at all other possible options, including a greater spreading of the risk and/or increased reinsurance. Finally, I ask you to deny his request for this 25 percent rate increase. We have had our significant rate increase already.
Thank you for your attention and concern.
James J. Kresel
Legal and laudable
To the Editor:
In a democracy, the role of a selectman like Kerry Scott is to serve the public. However, your recent article, "Oak Bluffs selectman deepens rift," and editorial, "Going nowhere," imply that instead her job is to go along with other selectman, and in both your article and editorial you slap her wrist for not doing so.
In looking into how and why the town bypasses its own hiring policies, Ms. Scott's actions were clearly legal and laudable. Would that at higher levels of government we had more legislators like Ms. Scott. In a democracy, we are in dire need of conscientious people willing to pursue an independent path to the public good, in the face of political pressure, cronyism, and media indifference. It's up to voters to support people like Ms. Scott, who act on their behalf, and to see through those whose self-interest lies elsewhere.
To the Editor:
Okay, so let me get this straight; I want to make sure I understand the editorial entitled "Going nowhere" in the July 20 issue of this paper. You are saying that Kerry Scott has failed as an elected official because she won't "go along to get along" with some of her fellow selectmen, correct? And selectman Scott is wrong to try to protect the town of Oak Bluffs, its employees, its union structure, and its taxpayers from an outsized number of inflated, insider contracts, unprecedented in the history of the entire state, which were created and signed behind closed doors. Have I got that right?
The editorial also accuses this conscientious, principled woman of ensuring that nothing gets done in Oak Bluffs. This is the same woman who stood up to the illegal building known as the "garage mahal" before anyone else dared to; who helped turn a dysfunctional plan for a ferry staging area, which would have eroded the North Bluff and created untenable traffic congestion, into a creative alternative that satisfied everyone; who worries about the health and comfort of visitors to Ocean Park, which now and then seems to be turning into a bog; and who has consistently looked to the long term good of the town instead of catering to the immediate needs of an entitled, greedy few.
You accuse her of not going to her colleagues first, before sending her query letter about the 14 sweetheart deals to the state Department of Revenue. Sir, have you been paying attention and watching your MVTV? These are the same colleagues who pushed her out of her rightful turn at the chairmanship of the board of selectmen, and who consistently try to keep information from her (such as the withdrawal of the only other candidate for the position of town administrator, to name a recent example, so there would be no competition for their predetermined, designated hitter). These are the same, open-and-above-board, highly collaborative colleagues who are the people she should check with first?
Sir, how dumb do we citizens look? Let me propose an alternate interpretation, from my parallel universe here on the North Bluff, where I and many of my neighbors watch baffled, amazed, and deeply saddened by recent events: Ms. Scott has been all too effective at neutralizing the insider deals that have traditionally lined a few pockets in Oak Bluffs. The good old boys are feeling threatened by this woman with the diehard, loyal constituency, who obstinately refuses to play ball. There is a desperate effort afoot to smear, marginalize, and punish her for having the unmitigated gall to act on principle and speak, unintimidated, for the long-suffering, under-represented residents of Oak Bluffs. I hope and pray for more elected officials like Kerry Scott.
Taxes well spent
To the Editor:
Certain phrases one never wants to use. Last Thursday, the one that came to my attention was call the fire department. Thankfully in the end, all turned out well. No injuries, no damage, no claims to be filed, and a new desire to buy business interruption insurance.
After such dramatic moments and insights I am able to see good through all the possible bad. I only lost some time, and I discovered a new appreciation for something I have neglected to acknowledge. Not only do phones work when you need them to, so does the fire department. Their prompt arrival, their dramatic display of equipment and efficiency, their attention to detail and their professional, friendly manner were the rewards of such a stressful event. The knowledge that our community is served by a force that responds instantly, is equipped with some very impressive machinery, and has members from all walks of life who can contribute expert opinions on air conditioners, building structure , and sources of mystifying smoke, makes one further appreciate how fortunate we are to call this place home.
Tax money well spent, is a phrase one seldom hears but now comes to mind. My appreciation and gratitude can be expressed with the not-used-enough-phrase, thank you.
Robert W. Herman
Why approve what you don't like?
To the Editor:
The recent vote by the Martha's Vineyard Commission was such a disappointment. Over the years the MVC has often been the voice of reason in sorting through the various impacts of new projects. They have rejected expansions at bed and breakfasts and restricted traffic at churches, but with respect to the Field Club application, they could only manage, "It's better than a gravel pit"?
How can nearly every commission member make remarks expressing a dislike for the project, or that it doesn't belong here or that it is not essential or not even appropriate, yet with the exception of only three commission members who recognize the dangers represented by this project, approval votes were readily cast.
Ned Orleans convincingly carved out his objections to this project in his prepared statement. Anyone concerned about the future of this Island should read it. This nonessential and inappropriate facility speaks of pure greed. There is nothing about this project that complements an Island lifestyle, whether seasonal or year-round. There are abundant, existing opportunities to play tennis at public and private facilities. This facility is simply not needed. Excluding the pavilion and tennis courts, the club will consist of more than 18,000 square feet of buildings and 74 parking spaces. Stop and Shop occupies a 24,000 sq. ft. building and has parking for about 90.
For those commission members who still think it's better than a gravel pit, it is time to take your obligations more seriously. This project is a replacement for seven homes of a previously approved subdivision - not a gravel pit. Why hasn't the commission more thoroughly evaluated not only the impact of the Field Club but the combined impact of the previously approved subdivision?
The developers should be held accountable for the impacts of the full project and not get away with the piecemeal approach which serves to understate the potential impacts. What modifications to the project will we see in the future? What unspecified uses of the facilities at the Field Club will emerge to further add to the traffic and congestion beginning to appear in this area of Edgartown?
We also anxiously await the response by the town of Edgartown, to see how it will deal with the need to widen roads and modify intersections to deal with the traffic increases. Or, will the traffic simply be dispersed all through the Katama area on side roads and through quiet neighborhoods as commission members speculated? This option should be viewed as unacceptable as the sad mitigation measures offered by the applicants. By what standard do bus passes, bike paths, and other assorted bribes replace responsible pro-active mitigation measures for a project that will have significant impacts?
How will this commission vote on the next project that will potentially add 500 "members" (i.e. families)? The land for such huge developments, condominiums, and subdivisions still exists, even if all such projects won't have the availability of their own sewage treatment plant. Has the MVC lost its ability or desire to oppose well-connected local developers and politicians? We anxiously await the vote on the Dunkin' Donuts franchise.
MVC benefits rich
To the Editor:
This letter was addressed to the commissioners of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).
On behalf of the residents of Martha's Vineyard, I am writing this letter to file a complaint of economic discrimination against the Martha's Vineyard Commission. The MVC is a discriminatory agency that controls who has access to the wealth and residential housing of Martha's Vineyard by economic discrimination. A study of the process by which the MVC determines whose projects are referred to the MVC for review as Developments of Regional Impact, and the subsequent decisions and conditions imposed on these projects over the last 30 years will show a pattern of economic discrimination against the residents of Martha's Vineyard with the exception of those whose income is in the top 10 percent or higher. This economic discrimination has had severe socio-economic consequences.
To see the inequality in the application of the unbridled authority given to the MVC by the state legislature, look at the fact that a transient rental in a residentially zoned neighborhood receives zero oversight, regulation, or taxation while a resident in the same residential zone who wants to engage in a small home business, usually to supplement his or her primary job in their attempt to cope with our high cost of living, is assaulted by numerous prohibitions, regulations and much public scrutiny in the permitting process. The resident is further discriminated against by having "their property tax assessment increased" based upon "their commercial activity" in addition to the property already being unfairly valued equal to a transient rental property. This is discrimination in taxation, regulation and by whose commercial activities are allowed in residential zones.
I have confidence in my belief that laws like MGL Chapter 59 section 2a, which defines transient rentals as commercial use, were written because the legislators understood the potential socio-economic problems associated with not enforcing a separation of uses between residential and commercial zoning. Did this regional planning agency not understand, or did it not want to understand, what past legislators had already figured out and written laws to protect against? Look at all the housing bureaucracies that have been created to try, unsuccessfully, to manage a problem that would not have occurred if existing law had been followed.
While the MVC has regulated huge, excessive in my opinion, numbers of residential and commercial projects over the last 30 years, they have chosen not to control the transient accommodation business in residential zones while they have regulated transient rental businesses in commercial zoned areas. Go figure. By choosing not to control the weekly rental business in residential zones the result is "inflated" residential property values, property taxes, and cost of living to the resident. The result of 30 years of this economic discrimination is the transfer of wealth and housing from the resident working class to transients with commercial interests. The MVC has also engaged in suppressing free market competition in the business zones, which also increases the cost of living in addition to the cost of housing, which helps to drive out the legal, taxpaying, resident working class.
These activities by the MVC amount to, in my opinion, social engineering by economic discrimination. I hope the MCAD will agree and offer the residents of Martha's Vineyard some relief from the effects of an out-of-control bureaucracy.
Donald N. Muckerheide
To the Editor:
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the Steamship Authority. A year ago my mom was dying of cancer at her home in Martha's Vineyard when I received the call to come to the Island right away. We were getting ready to go to my son's graduation from middle school, and he asked if I could stay to watch him graduate. Since I had said my goodbyes several times to my mom, I thought I'd be okay with my decision.
But after the graduation, I wanted desperately to be with my mom. I left by myself early the next morning and was a wreck by the time I arrived at Woods Hole. My first angel was the extremely professional and caring attendant that helped me park my car. Then I boarded the bike bus driven by a beautiful, petite woman with curly hair, my second angel, who noticed my swollen red eyes and asked if I was okay. She was so sweet, I told her the whole story on the way to the boat. She embraced me with compassion and kindness, and she shared that she had recently lost her mother as well.
When we arrived at the boat, she walked me up and introduced me to a man in charge of the boat, my third angel, and told him my story. He watched over me on the boat and had a taxi waiting for me when we arrived at Vineyard Haven.
I was able to spend the last hour with my family and mom. If you have ever lost someone you love, I don't have to explain what that means. Please forgive me for not remembering names, but I just want to thank the Steamship for their compassion and professionalism that day. Now when I board that wonderful boat, I enter with the deepest gratitude and respect for the staff of the Steamship Authority.
West Haven, Conn.
Care to be proud of
To the Editor:
Once again I am preparing to leave the Island, something I've done three times over the past four and a half years. I am a travel nurse who has taken contracts and worked at Windemere. I would like to thank the staff who have offered me kindness and friendship while here. I have made some very cherished friendships and likewise in the community at large, and to that community: you have a wonderful facility with competent and caring staff. Be proud, and if you know someone who is a resident, take the time to visit, you will never know what 15 minutes means to these residents.
If you didn't know any of the residents you could volunteer to assist in the activities, helping a resident to play bingo, reading, or just conversing with them. I guess what I'm trying to say is be proud and be appreciative of this fine facility, because if you don't have a loved one in Windemere, chances are you will, and everyone has the responsibility to help to make it the best it can be; and maybe the next time you consider what charity or cause you will be helping, consider the one you have right here.
Martha's Vineyard Hospital and Windemere are fine and deserving of the community's attention and appreciation.
Dorene Wroten, LPN
LeSage, West Virginia
To the Editor:
The tragedy on the Alabama on Friday, July 14, should be a wake-up call to all boaters to take their boating activities a little more seriously. Being out on the water can be a lot of fun, and offers freedoms that you just can't experience on land, but with this freedom comes danger.
My condolences go out to the Sutherland family and I'm truly sorry for their loss. I can't help wondering though why Benjamin Sutherland was not wearing some sort of safety harness.
I don't know if the Coastwise Packet Company offers safety equipment, and Benjamin just wasn't using it. If they do offer safety harnesses, maybe they will be a bit more forceful in making their crew wear them from now on. The thing that really angers me about this accident is that if Benjamin had been wearing a harness and tied off to some of the rigging he would have fallen six to 10 feet, and had some bruises, instead of falling 30 feet unarrested to the deck.
This accident is an eye-opener to the whole boating community - life jackets and safety lines save lives. It is a shame a young man had to die to prove this.
To the Editor:
Thank you to the businesses of downtown Edgartown for their good-spirited participation in the MV Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp scavenger hunt. The kids had a great time, and I hope they weren't too much trouble. It's businesses and individuals like you that make this community so special, and your support of our organization, and our programs, is greatly appreciated.
Pete Lambos, Director
MV Boys & Girls Club Summer Camps
Thanks to all
To the Editor:
The Board of Directors and staff of Sail Martha's Vineyard thank all who participated in making the Fifteenth Annual Seafood Buffet and Auction and Inaugural Vineyard Cup and Seafaring Weekend the success it was. The funds raised will be used to sustain and expand our sailing programs for the Island's youth.
We are grateful especially to Vineyard Vines for its sponsorship, Ralph Packer for the use of the Tisbury Wharf, Our Market for providing the beverages, and the MV Times for its continued support. Thank you to those who advertised in our program, and donated to the auction, and to the charter boat captains who graced the dock, to Fella Caters, who provided a fantastic meal, the Beetlebung Steel Band and to the more than 40 volunteers who gave their time and effort to the weekend.
Importantly, thank you to all who dined, bid, danced, rowed, sailed, windsurfed, and participated in the activities. Thank you to the businesses, vendors, speakers, musicians and artists who contributed to every aspect of the weekend. The widespread community support is what makes Sail Martha's Vineyard a reality.
President Sail MV
To the Editor:
It is always intriguing to read comments from some local residents who maintain that mopeds are dangerous, and it is acknowledged that they have little experience in operating these vehicles.
I started operating mopeds when I was living in Key West, Florida, some twelve years ago. At that location, mopeds are used not only by tourists, but it is the common means of transportation by residents due to the lack of suitable parking. I have been operating my moped here on the Vineyard for the past three years. So in a way, one might consider me as an expert in the operation of these vehicles, and I have never had an accident with either my moped or my car. I drive both with care.
A moped is a motor vehicle, and one needs a driver's license to operate one. For those that are desirous of having moped outlawed on our highways, forget about it as it will never happen.
There are few moped accidents in Key West as car drivers in that area treat mopeds as motor vehicles that have the legal right to be on the highways. Here on the Vineyard, you have car drivers who feel that mopeds are a hindrance in their desire to drive down our local highways at 45 mph plus. Mopeds cannot operate that fast, and they usually travel at 25 to 30 mph. So we have a community of drivers who drive down the Edgartown-Vineyard highway in a no-pass area, and they come up on a moped doing 30 mph. The car driver gets frustrated and swerves around the moped, and then cuts sharply in front of the moped to illustrate his frustrations.
Consequently, mopeds usually ride in the right side of the road where there is a three-foot border between the main portion of the road and the sandy shoulder. Mopeds do not operate smoothly on sand, and that is when the operator loses control.
In my experience, young macho men in the age group of 20 to 27 years of age and our local cowboys who operate taxi cabs seem to enjoy causing havoc by cutting sharply in front of mopeds at a fast rate of speed. The majority of other drivers recognized the speed limitation of mopeds and show considerable consideration.
The vast majority of drivers on the Island bend over backwards to give mopeds the right of way, and I wish to thank them for their consideration.
To improve the safety situations, I would outlaw the legality of allowing two people on a moped as the moped operator loses a lot of control due to the weight of the extra person on the moped. It is like riding a bicycle, which is fairly simple and safe until you start riding with a rider on the crossbar.
Secondly, I would convince the moped rental operators to refrain from renting mopeds with skinny bicycle tires, as they lack sufficient traction for stability. Thirdly, do not rent mopeds that have a high rate of torque, as the vehicle jumps forward when first starting up. Lastly, do not take out your frustrations in being behind a moped in a no passing area. Show a little patience and wait until you have the ability to pass within the law in a safe manner.
Just today, I was riding my moped by Stop & Shop in Edgartown, which is a road with one lane in either direction, and a solid line to signify a no-passing zone. It made no difference to a driver who passed me in his BMW SUV and then cut in front of me to show his frustration with having to ride behind a moped.
Of course, this frustration comes from reading so many letters and comments in the newspapers on how dangerous mopeds are on our highways. The argument that one should have to obtain a motorcycle license in order to operate a moped is ridiculous. A SUV is built on a truck chassis, and so does that mean that I should be required to obtain a license to operate a commercial truck when I drive my SUV?
People know that there is no chance of outlawing mopeds on our highways, and so they want motorcycles licenses to be required to operate a moped. So rather than face the real reason for moped accidents, they put forward "mickey mouse" arguments that one should have a motorcycle license to operate a moped.
If you have not spent some time on a moped and have experience in operating these vehicles, please do not write letters and articles on the dangers on operating a moped. And to the novice moped operators, mopeds are not toys and should be driven with care.