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County has history of bobbles, bungles, and miscues
Despite frequent and sometimes costly missteps by the Dukes County commissioners, Island voters have generally paid little attention to county government despite the bite it takes out of Island tax dollars. The lack of interest on the part of the electorate has most often been reflected in a scarcity of contests for seats on the seven-member county commission. Not this election.
· Under the terms of the new county charter, in July 1995 the newly elected county commissioners hired Walter M. Johnson of Lake Oswego, Oregon, to be the new county manager at an annual salary of approximately $52,000 to oversee a county government
· In October 1997 the commissioners hired Carol Borer of West Tisbury at an annual salary of $52,000 to be county manager. In November 2002 Ms. Borer, who was then paid an annual salary of $79,206, announced that she would retire at the end of the year. As part of a retirement package that pays her approximately $19,000 annually, Ms. Borer received a check from the county treasurer for $16,755 for unused vacation days, and another in the amount of $4,402 for unused sick days without any documentation, and in contravention of existing county personnel policies.
· After a three-month search and seven and a half months without a full-time county manager, in May 2003 the commissioners voted to hire Laurie Perry of Edgartown to be the new county manager. Almost four months, 10 executive sessions, eight hours and 45 minutes of discussion later, in August the commissioners voted to rescind the job offer because they were unable to confirm Ms. Perry's claim that she received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Northeastern University in 1977.
· After months of discussion, in spring 2001 voters in the six Island towns agreed to give the Martha's Vineyard Hospital $495,000 in tax money as part of a contract for emergency room services designed to help bolster the hospital's sagging finances. In September Island leaders were shocked to read about a county scheme to skim off $49,500 by charging the hospital to administer the contract. Outside of County manager Carol Borer and commissioner Bob Sawyer, chairman of the emergency medical services committee, no other commissioners or members of the medical services committee were aware of the separate agreement until they read about it in the newspaper. Following weeks of public indignation at the idea that the county would be receiving any money from the hospital, the scheme was killed.
· In March 1997, the commissioners took no action over a proposal by The Trustees of Reservations to manage Norton Point Beach, and instead raised the beach management budget, insisting that, properly funded, the county could manage the beach. In April, state environmental officials closed Norton Point because the county had failed to manage the beach according to state requirements. After years of lengthy summer beach closures and under pressure from Edgartown officials and fishermen to provide better management, this year the county turned over management of the beach to The Trustees.
· Against a backdrop of opposition to a Steamship Authority fast ferry passenger connection between Martha's Vineyard and New Bedford and the constant complaints of Nantucket SSA member Grace Grossman, in December 2003 a majority of county commissioners spurned the recommendations of a majority of Island selectmen and voted not to reappoint J. B. Riggs Parker of Chilmark to the SSA board. Instead they chose Kathryn Roessel, a newcomer to Vineyard public affairs. Fred "Ted" Morgan, long-time Edgartown selectman and a respected Island leader, called the vote absolutely ridiculous, "and one of the worst decisions ever made on this Island."
· In 2001, the airport commission agreed to pay their new professional airport manager William Weibrecht $86,000 per year and assistant airport manager Sean Flynn $67,000 per year. The county manager, with the support of the county commissioners, refused to pay the men the full salaries agreed to by the airport commissioners until they conformed to county payroll procedures.
· Following years of airport mismanagement, the county commissioners appointed several airport commissioners with solid aviation and business experience and with no county ties. One of those was businessman and pilot Marc Villa of Chilmark. Under his chairmanship the airport commission presided over the construction of a new multimillion-dollar terminal and general aviation building and changes in airport accounting and management practices. The commission also hired the airport's first professional airport manager. But when Mr. Villa and members of the airport commission clashed with the county over the conduct of airport affairs, the county struck back.