Letters to the Editor
A happy, we hope, ending
To the Editor:
On Saturday, as we were hiking on Norton Point, we came upon a two-day-old gray seal pup. The seas were rough, and she was struggling to get away from the surf and onto the beach. Not knowing what to do, we called 911, and they connected us to the Animal Rescue at the Aquarium in Boston.
The attendant, Adam, at the Rescue Office asked us to take a photo of the seal and send it to them. As with every good rescue plan, it is always good to have an IT person in the group. My fellow hiker not only had the foresight to bring her cell phone, but she also knew how to send a photo to the office in Boston. Several minutes after we sent the photo our cell phone rang, and Adam told us that we were looking at a two-day-old gray seal. He assumed that "she" (we took the liberty to name her Sasha) was most likely separated from her mother during the high seas. He told us that as long as she was above the incoming surf we could assume that she would be okay, and her mother would locate her. However, he did ask if we could check back on her later in the day to see if she was still there and if she was OK.
On our return hike back from Chappy around 4 pm, we noticed that Sasha was back in the surf and having trouble getting to a dry location. At that time we connected with a member of Trustees of Reservations, and the decision was made to move her to higher ground. Once again, it was good to have someone with experience, and within moments he had the pup up on high ground.
Well, the story could end here, but part of our agreement with Adam was to check back the following day to see if the pup was okay. So, on Sunday morning we took another hike back to Norton Point to check on things. As we were hiking we noticed tracks from the mother seal in the sand . We followed the tracks as they wandered back and forth across the trail and back to the beach. The mother must have crawled several miles in search of her pup. Alas, we do not know the final outcome, but from all indications it looked like mom and daughter were reunited. We have left phone messages with both the Trustees and the Rescue Office in Boston and will hope there is a good ending to the story of "Lost and Found."
To the Editor:
I sent this letter to the Dukes County commissioners:
Last December you received my letter regarding the character of your annual appointment process with specific reference to the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission. The board's ensuing reaction was essentially silent, save commissioner Leonard Jason's memorable comment; "I hate to admit it, but Ted's right." It is time to revisit this issue.
The power of appointment vested in the county commissioners is undoubtedly the most important one you hold. As you well know, delegation of authority is an important task and responsibility.
At your Nov. 15, 2006 meeting, two commissioners voiced opposition to interviewing a specific candidate whose appointment was requested by the town of Tisbury. Such a request may obviously be considered an endorsement, but is that reason enough to shirk your fiduciary obligation to the public? In this case, good sense narrowly prevailed, as reflected by a 3-2 vote not to appoint until after a proper interview is conducted.
Minutes later that good sense all but vanished.
Commissioner Robert Sawyer, as acting chair, felt compelled to act on the requirement to annually appoint a representative to the Martha's Vineyard Commission. He noted that the only letter of interest on file came from commissioner Paul Strauss. Commissioner Roger Wey moved immediately to appoint Mr. Strauss. Commissioner Les Leland seconded for the purpose of discussion. Commissioner Nelson Smith asked if the position had been advertised. Mr. Sawyer believed it had, but deferred to county manager Winn Davis, who said it had not and offered that it still could be advertised prior to the presumed year-end deadline for appointment. The offer was ignored.
Woody Williams was recognized and noted that "for whatever reason" Mr. Strauss failed in his bid to be elected to the MVC and that for the Dukes County commissioners to subsequently appoint Mr. Strauss would usurp the will of the voters. The vote was 4-1 in favor of appointing Mr. Strauss, who voted for himself, while Mr. Williams' comments fell on deaf ears.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission Act (Chapter 831 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1977 Acts and Resolves as Amended) states that members of the MVC shall include "one county commissioner of the county of Dukes County, or a designee [emphasis added], appointed by the county commissioners of said county." As elected representatives of the citizens of Dukes County, can each of you, without reservation, tell the public that your obligation for due diligence was fully executed?
I trust you will see this is not about Mr. Strauss. Rather it is all about using appropriate methods and procedures to find the best available person to fill a given appointed position, which means soliciting and interviewing applicants from outside your tiny group.
Comments at the meeting clearly reveal a longstanding and continued sentiment shared by most members of the board, that sitting commissioners should be treated as "first among equals" when appointed positions are considered. Justification for this is made in part by the suggestion that such self-appointments are necessary to ensure communication between the county commission and other bodies. This is pure nonsense.
Unlike a kingdom, broad representation is at the very core of our basis of government. Delegating responsibility and authority to other competent individuals imports a degree of objectivity unattainable within the realm of self-appointments.
Soon the board of county commissioners must make other annual appointments, including, once again, individuals to the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission. The previous airport commission appointment process was initially an unpleasant, controversial, rather clumsy affair. It included two "un-appointments" which precipitated several resignations in protest. The commission subsequently conducted a more thorough, open, and comparatively professional search and interview process beyond anything ever previously accomplished. The results were an admirable improvement. Why not remain on high ground and adopt this as standard practice?
I urge you, do not slip back into the muck. Do things to renew our faith in your leadership. If not, then the public drumbeat calling for dissolution of our county government may grow louder.
Delay in MVC
endanger hospital plan
To the Editor:
This letter was written to the Martha's Vineyard Commission:
We are writing to record this board of selectmen's position on the proposal to rebuild the MV Hospital which is now before you as a Development of Regional Impact.
Without discussing the details of your deliberations, we wish to add our voice to those who point out that construction costs increase by the day, and every extra condition adds cost. Every day of delay or additional condition increases the budget for the project. Should the current delay in approving the project or conditions result in the cost of the project exceeding projections, the project (as delayed or conditioned by the MVC) could reach the "tipping point" financially and be discontinued as improvident by the hospital board, which is a private entity without command over taxpayer funds. This would be a tragedy for the future of health care in our community.
The community which you serve, which includes many Chilmarkers, in a rare endorsement of an Island-wide project, has signified its approval of the hospital plan by pledging $38 million dollars to construct it. We believe it should be approved promptly to avoid the risk of failure - a failure from which Island health care has no means to recover.
J. B. Riggs Parker
Chilmark Board of Selectmen
To the Editor:
There is, understandably, some confusion with regard to the $5 million payment Mass General has offered to make to M.V. Hospital as part of our proposed affiliation.
Why is it so small (if $5 million can be called small) relative to the "potential" stream of over $200 million of annual payments that may be received by all Massachusetts hospitals (including those in Partners HealthCare) starting three or four years from now?
Part of that confusion may stem from our not-for-profit status. When a for-profit corporation acquires another for-profit corporation, the former generally makes payments (cash and/or stock) to the selling shareholders. In this case, M.V. Hospital, Mass General and Partners HealthCare are not-for-profit entities - there are no selling shareholders.
Thus the $5 million cash payment is not a purchase payment to selling shareholders as there are no selling shareholders to pay.
Instead, look at the $5 million payment as a capital investment in our new hospital. Also, it is not a one-time payment. We can fully expect additional investments in the future toward other worthy capital requirements.
No such union succeeds without a common goal and trust amongst the parties. Our due diligence has led us to believe that being a Partners partner will enhance the consistent delivery of the highest quality health care on our Island - and that is our mission.
Editor's Note: Edward Miller is a member of the board of the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
Making young drivers
To the Editor:
Driving accidents on Martha's Vineyard have claimed far too many lives in recent years, as well as all of Massachusetts and the country.
The automobile is the number one killer for teenagers in this country, period. Approximately five to six thousand teenagers die each year, with serious injuries in the hundreds of thousands. Massachusetts says one in three teens will get into an accident; other studies show one in two in the first year and after three years three out of four will be involved in accidents.
"New teenage drivers are likely to do something innocently risky, blatantly illegal or tragically stupid." The National Institute of Mental Health reports that the part of the brain that weighs risks, makes judgments, and controls impulsive behavior is still developing in teens, and does not mature until about age 25.
New drivers are further distracted by passengers, cell phones, music, changing a CD, etc. Studies show the potential catastrophe of passengers. Other teens in the car is one of the greatest risks. Teens driving with a passenger were 39 percent more likely to get killed than those driving alone. (This increases to 86 percent with two passengers, and 182 percent with more teen passengers.) The National Highway Safety Commission says no matter what your state allows, do not let any teen passengers in your teen's car.
It is important for us to understand that whatever age we allow them to get behind the wheel, they will be novice drivers. If they have not received accident avoidance training, the consequences could be lethal. For the first few months many new drivers are cautious. Before long, however, false confidence takes hold. Suddenly they find themselves in a tire screeching emergency that basic drivers training did not prepare them to handle. Remember we live in the northeast where there is lots of snow, ice, water, etc. One emergency turn leads to another. Many young drivers mistakenly put on the brakes, turn the wheel, and slide sideways and into a tree or pole. Or they slide sideways and roll over. Failure to wear seatbelts can compound the situation because they can be ejected from the vehicle. But, they can be taught how to react.
There is a program that has evolved since 2001, offered by the National Safety Council, Central Mass. Chapter. Called "Skid Skool," it is an advanced accident avoidance driver's training class. During class sessions, rubber cones are set up to replicate real-world challenges. A wall of cones is set up to teach emergency lane changes. A slalom of cones replicates the spilled load of equipment from a truck where your student will learn how to weave back and forth. They will put down a sheet of water and send your child into a skid, and show them how to get out of it.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles did a survey over four years and concluded graduates of accident avoidance training produced a crash rate of 5.3 percent compared to a crash rate among untrained drivers of over 23 percent. This "proves that accident avoidance and defensive driving techniques can save crashes and save lives."
Martha's Vineyard Drive for Life - The David Furino Foundation is committed to making our Martha's Vineyard young drivers safe drivers, and to make Martha's Vineyard Regional High School the leader in Massachusetts for advanced driving education. Our teens need to know how to make good decisions and have the skills to drive safely. We want to insure that young drivers have the right tools to begin their driving careers correctly, and make it easier for parents to hand over the car keys to their young son or daughter.
We need parent involvement. If your son or daughter has a learner's permit, has just received a license, or is a new driver, then we strongly urge you and your child to attend an initial general meeting of M.V. Drive for Life on Dec. 18. Research shows, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, "that when parents don't limit when, where, and how frequently their teens can drive, teens' traffic violations and car accidents increase. Research also shows that although parents are in a prime position to influence their teen's driving behaviors, many parents are less involved than they could be." This first meeting is paid for by The Martha's Vineyard Drive for Life - The David Furino Foundation.
We are currently trying to raise money to purchase simulators for our young student drivers. These high tech simulators are state of the art. They give your child practice on highway driving, city driving, weather, etc. As far as we know schools in Massachusetts do not have these. Let's be the first.
We need your help to raise money to purchase the simulators, as well as insuring driver's advanced education. Donations for the simulators can be made to MV Drive for Life - DFF ( David Furino Foundation), c/o Edgartown National Bank.
M.V. Drive for Life is committed to purchasing simulators for our student drivers. Our goal is to someday have these simulators be in our high school curriculum.
Please come to this first important meeting Dec. 18, 2006 at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center at 7 pm.
During the busy holidays and every day, the grief of losing your child never goes away. We remember David Furino and Kevin Johnson who died on May 7, 2004. Our hearts go out to all the parents who have lost their children to such tragedy. We need to remember all the children on M.V. who have died in car accidents or were seriously injured. We don't want to leave out anyone. All of these children do not want to be forgotten, and we will make sure they are not.
Tom and Barbara Furino and family
MV Drive for Life - David Furino Foundation
Beware the scam
To the Editor:
There is a scam going on that few seem to be aware of involving gift certificates. Some of you have seen racks of gift certificates in grocery or convenience stores to Starbucks, Macy's, Blockbuster Video, Bed, Bath & Beyond etc. These certificates are scanned at the store in order to activate them. Since I am an avid gift certificate giver, I found this absolutely brilliant, given that I'd never be able to make it to all of these stores before Christmas.
A few weeks ago, I purchased one for Blockbuster Video. It was activated in the store, and I mailed the gift to California. My son used the card once and when he returned to the store again he was told that it had been maxed out - in Massachusetts. Some individuals, with a great deal of time on their hands, are taking the numbers off the cards, checking the activation date and using them, more than likely, online. My advice: go to your store of choice to buy your gift certificates or on-line over a secure browser.
To the Editor:
Rabbi Walt's campaign for human rights is quite noble; no sane human being would be pro torture. Rabbi Walt is also quite naive. No sane human being would spare any effort in order to protect the lives of innocent millions. The references to Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, as examples of torture, indicate clearly that the accusers do not know what torture is. Either that or they continue to practice an anti-American mindset that does nothing except aid and give comfort to our mortal enemies.
I am not accusing the Rabbi of treason; I am, however, accusing him and others like him of very dangerous naivete. We can ill afford this ridiculous mindset; it could end up killing millions of us.
It is actually amazing, the restraint that has been shown to these people at Gitmo; many of them are ignorant of anything except their precious Koran. They can justify murder to any degree, in the name of ignorance. Their goal is to erase thousands of years of civilization.
I am very proud to be an American and indeed proud of the way this country has conducted itself all over the world. It doesn't mean we are perfect, it doesn't mean we always do the right thing, and it doesn't mean that greed and corruption don't live here. However when all is said and done, I'm sure that anyone would prefer to be a POW of America than one of any other country, especially, any Muslim country. So, wake up and smell the roses, Rabbi Walt; this is still the greatest experiment of individual human dignity the world has ever known. As Winston Churchill said... "Democracy is the worst form of government; except for all the other kinds."
The same can be said for the USA. It remains, by far the greatest.
Oh, and as far as Israel is concerned, there is no sovereign nation on earth, that would show the restraint that this nation has shown to brutal murderers, whose stated goals are the destruction of the Jewish state.
Richard S. Binder
To the Editor:
Our daughter Samantha was involved in a car accident at the intersection of Wing Road and County Road in Oak Bluffs. Although it is important that the community know how and why this accident happened, that is not what this letter is about.
This letter is to let our community know that the response of our many emergency personnel to our daughter's aid was unbelievable in that she saw faces she knew. There were family friends, personal friends, former fellow students and those who knew of Samantha through her high school employment at Cronig's Market. The comfort she felt when she looked up to see all of these people helping her. People she cares about, people she loves, helping her. We on the Vineyard have an amazing support system, and Samantha felt that. We are so fortunate to live in this community. We cannot express enough how much we thank those who were there for our daughter and her friend.
For those of you who do not know Samantha or who have lost track of her over the years, let us tell you she is a smart, strong, energetic, compassionate, caring young woman. She is a 2003 Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduate. She was an active participant in Safe Rides and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters PALS program during her high school career, as well as being active in her faith and church community.
She is presently a full-time student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, where she is a Metals & Jewelry design major. She is currently employed at the college in the metals and jewelry building as a shop monitor. She is also employed with the Square Rigger Restaurant in Edgartown as a waitress on call and as a jewelry associate with Claudia's jewelry store in Vineyard Haven when she is home from college. Samantha is an outgoing young woman enjoying all types of theater productions. She loves music and being able to dance and be with her friends.
Samantha is currently hospitalized at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; she is listed in critical condition and is located in the critical care surgical/trauma ward. Her hospital name is EU Critical Lena. She has undergone two surgeries and is looking at a number of months in rehabilitation while she is working towards her goal to walk again. She will not be able to finish her college education or attend her scheduled spring graduation as planned. But, Samantha has always set goals for herself and has worked very hard to fulfill those goals. She has made the comment, "I am on the five-year plan now, Mom." She is not lying in her hospital bed giving up. Although she is in extreme pain and can only stay awake for short periods of time she is staying positive.
Friends, Samantha has friends. She does not have any sisters, only brothers, but she has this group of girlfriends that is like nothing any of us has ever seen. These girls are bonded together, true sisters in every sense of the word. Most of them are a year older than Samantha. When Samantha was in her senior year of high school these girlfriends gave her encouragement to follow them to college. It was as if they were pulling her along with them. "Come on, Sam, you can do it?."
These girls have had their own share of life's troubles. When one is down, the others pull her up. It is Samantha's turn now, and her girlfriends are right here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. They are helping us by keeping her positive, helping her to eat, crying with her, holding her hand. They are doing anything and everything for her to help her pull forward past this tragic accident. And she will pull forward.
Community: while typing this letter to the community Samantha's telephone rang here in her hospital room. She answered it to find the kindest voice on the other end. Benjamin DeForest introduced himself to our daughter. He has offered his help and support in any fund-raising efforts or benefits. Samantha was so touched by this kindness, being that Samantha is never thinking of herself when others are in need. She immediately said, "please if there is fund-raising to be done I want this to benefit the community and our Vineyard students, I want there to be a fund or scholarship set up. I want the community to be aware that this type of accident could happen to anyone. Your life can change in an instant."?
This is how Samantha truly feels: we must as a community keep this kind of accident from happening again. There are so many people who are helping, caring and praying for Samantha. Just too many to list. From the families of Samantha's girl-friends to our Martha's Vineyard Regional High School family, The Emergency Medical Staff volunteers, the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, The Steamship Authority, friends, neighbors and strangers. We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of kindness and prayers. We, the Church family, thank you and wish you all a safe holiday season. Please remember that Samantha was not alone in this accident; she was traveling with a girlfriend at her side who is recovering at home on the Vineyard, She also has some recovering to do - please pray for her and her family during this time of recovery. And if you do nothing but buckle your seat belt in remembrance of KJ & Deebo like Samantha and Carolin Puetthoff did, you are doing enough. Our Island angels saved these girls' lives because they buckled up for KJ & Deebo. Please be happy our girls survived because of our community effort to keep our young people alive.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Church
To the Editor:
My sister and I have been attending the Capawock since we were both in pigtails, and whether it has new owners or the old owners have returned, what a pleasure it was, when we attended a movie last week, to see that they have gone back to the theatre as we remember it. There was never a refreshment stand in our days, and to tell you the truth, few moviegoers appreciate the exorbitant candy and drink prices and what had become terrible popcorn. None of us miss the sticky and dirty floors that such a stand brings. Bravo for the operators of the Capawock. What genius it was to bring back the theatre to the way it was run for generations. Big city cinemas can have their highway-robbery refreshment stands, but for an old-fashioned country movie experience we at last have our old Capawock back, with those odd little intermissions that always allowed us time to go to the girl's room. Again, bravo, and it could only have happened on the Vineyard. We now await the return of five-cent Cokes.
To the Editor:
Corrupt 20th-century oil bargains between the Americans and the Saudis led to a proliferation of large, white petroleum storage tanks, like mushrooms, across America.
At the same time, large, white Muslim mosques (of the radical Wahabi sect), built with Saudi petrodollars, grew like toadstools from sea to shining sea.
Said the credulous, "Aren't we wonderful to allow freedom of religion in America."
At the same time, evil and wicked Wahabi Arab clerics rubbed their hands together in glee as they plotted to total destruction and downfall of America from within.
Peter Colt Josephs
To the Editor:
There now appears to be a delay in finalizing the approval of the Martha's Vineyard Hospital's thoroughly inappropriately sized and located new construction proposal. A new hospital plan should be envisioned not merely for the next few decades but for the next 100 years. The group of residents representing the historically significant Eastville community, including Windemere, Road, were recently granted interested party status by the Martha's Vineyard Commission, and our issues were judged to have merit. Now, they should be publicly heard.
Our frustration is that many of the contributors to the hospital building fund may not realize the depth of anger, frustration and distress being felt throughout this long established community of taxpaying abutters and neighbors. Over many years we have been patronized and dismissed as irrelevant by the hospital administration, who have typically given us little more than lip service. However, the most recent public characterization and further dismissal by Tim Sweet, vice chairman of the hospital board, of our issues, as "minutia," was outrageous and infuriating.
No one should accept any longer the fiction that there are no options and the attitude of "our way or the highway." It is self-serving fiction that their plan cannot be revisited; primarily regarding its citing and secondly regarding its scale, if it must remain where it is now.
If we must accept the position that rebuilding on the present site is the only sensible choice, there are a number of methods to mitigate some of our issues:
We demand a permanent new access road, connecting to Beach Road, parallel to the soon to be widened hospital road, and that it be dedicated for the exclusive use by residents of Windemere Road. This will avoid the inevitable problems associated with sharing a single road with construction and emergency vehicles.
Find the way to relocate doctors' offices, rehabilitation and day care facilities from the hospital campus, thereby reducing the traffic and demands for parking spaces.
In the interest of abutters located across Brush Pond, as well as those on Windemere Road, arrange to plant and maintain stands of sizable trees along both the south and east facing elevations to block from their view the massive new proposed building.
Arrange for construction work hours to be limited to between no earlier than 8:00 am and no later than 5:00 pm.
We demand that, as part of the permitting process, the hospital commit, in perpetuity, not to build additional floors to the currently proposed building which is designed to stand 25 feet high.
Through no fault of their own, there will inevitably be income stream losses suffered by those abutters and neighbors whose seasonal rentals will evaporate during the budgeted 30-month construction time. In order to hold the abutters financially harmless, we think it equitable to suggest that the town of Oak Bluffs consider the abatement real estate taxes of those so impacted. Optionally, the hospital could add a line to the construction budget agreeing to subsidize the real estate tax payments for those affected abutters.
These are carefully considered proposals put forward by families who care deeply about our community of homes, some of which have been owned by the same families for more than 75 years.
Judith and Victor Linn
For the Windemere Road Home Owners Association.
Why won't you share?
To the Editor:
A few weeks ago I wrote a letter stating that the up-Island towns should open "their" beaches to anyone who walks or rides a bike in the summer. Since then nobody has written into the paper saying why sharing the beaches is a bad idea. I'm sure that there are those up-Island who would like to just "stay the course." I for one would like to hear why. I could respect the up-Island towns exclusionary policies if people in those towns would write into the paper stating why sharing the beaches with fellow Islanders is wrong. Hopefully, I'll get to read at least one selfish Letter to the Editor in this giving time of year.
Lots of helpers,
lots to thank
To the Editor:
The preparation for the Oak Bluffs Tree Lighting was about 10 times longer than the event itself. However, what it lacked in duration, it made up for in spirit, enthusiasm and a little touch of magic.
To start with, the Vineyard Classic Brass ensemble created a holiday spirit for children of all ages. With an extensive repertoire and the ability to play from the heart, the players wore able to transform the Oak Bluffs Post Office Square into a holiday wonderland.
The magnificent tree, donated by Paul Mahoney Jr. of Jardin Mahoney's Garden Center, and the lights, lights and more lights hung by the highway department crew throughout our town, were just dazzling.
The Game Room was converted by Eric White and his wonderful helper Robin into a warm and welcoming place for Santa and his helpers. Celebrants were treated to plenty of hot chocolate, cookies from the PTO parents, and an abundance of festive toe-tapping tunes by Oak Bluffs School music teacher Brian Weiland and his talented musicians.
The anticipation of the yearly arrival of Santa Claus built to a crescendo as the band played "Here Comes Santa" causing a few moments of wild cheering as the jolly guy arrived at the Game Room door atop a flashing fire truck. There were hugs and ho ho ho's for all and then, just as quickly as he came, he and his helpers loaded the Food Pantry gifts onto the fire truck and away they flew!
Thanks to all those who helped to make this night so special, including members of the Highway Department, the Fire Department, the PTO, Paul Mahoney, the Friends of Oak Bluffs, Eric White and Robin at the Game Room, the Oak Bluffs Association, Frank DunkI and the Classic Brass Ensemble, tree lighter Selectman Duncan Ross, Brian Wieland, his band and last, but certainly not least, the wonderful teacher Alex Palmer who arrived with boxes filled with reindeer antler headbands for all the children.
Oak Bluffs Association