Letters to the Editor
Let the record show
To the Editor:
Sincere thanks to your reporter, Janet Hefler, for her thorough coverage of the special meeting of the Up-Island Regional School District, held to deal with the committee's need to respond to the call-up to military duty of West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt. Ms. Hefler got nearly every detail absolutely right, in her page one and page seven story. I wasn't even aware of her presence at the meeting, so I am very impressed by her accurate account of the proceedings, for which I commend her.
In the interest of accuracy and fairness, however, I must query both the headline and sub headline by which Ms. Hefler's by-lined story was presented. These read, "War critic tries to block military leave for school principal. But up-Island school committee rejects Marshall Segall's position."
Whoever wrote those words needs to be corrected. I did not try to block military leave. As Ms. Hefler's story noted, I stated at the meeting, after seconding a motion, offered by my fellow committee member, Susan Parker, that I couldn't support that motion, which included the words, "with our blessing." I sought, and received, a clear statement from the superintendent of what the committee's actual responsibility and options were, and, so informed, I requested that the original motion be withdrawn (which was graciously done by Ms. Parker) and then offered my own substitute motion noting that the UIRSC complies with the federal mandate for granting leave to members of the military reserve who are called to active duty. That motion, effectively granting Michael Halt's leave, was unanimously passed (all three members present voted aye). I'll take that kind of "rejection" any time.
Once that motion was passed, I then offered a second motion, as accurately described in Ms. Hefler's story, to offer the committee's best wishes and hopes for a speedy and safe return. That motion also passed unanimously.
Thus, let the record show (as the minutes of the meeting surely do) that I supported the leave request and wish fervently for our school principal's safe and speedy return.
Marshall H. Segall
Thanks to Michael Halt for his service
To the Editor:
I would like to thank Michael Halt and his family for his service to the US Marine Corps. I hope the Vineyard residents show the same military support to his wife and child as my family receives living close to various Navy Bases. As the spouse of a navy officer, we are known for our support groups. I assume Mrs. Halt will not have this military support group on the Island. Basically it is up to you locals to help her. It isn't hard to send over a batch of cookies with a card saying we are thinking of you. Invite the family over for dinner or shovel their driveway. How about not allowing the war protesters in the Edgartown annual Fourth of July parade. It truly is a disgrace to see them on Independence Day. Maybe the MV Times could cover Mr. Halt's tour. If Mr. Halt will be with one of the Navy construction battalions, then I am sure he will be involved with many good projects in Iraq.
I commend superintendent James Weiss in asking the committee to consider approving Chapter 77 of the state act of 2005 in Massachusetts, which offers public employees the difference between their base salary and their base military pay, so that they will not suffer financial loss while fulfilling their service obligation. I am not familiar with Chapter 77, but I do know Mr. Halt will receive more than $6,818 per month, which your newspaper published. Mr. Halt's family will receive his base pay plus a tax-free housing allowance of $2,281 per month. They will also receive family separation allowance, hazardous duty pay, etc. Don't get me wrong: all the money in the world cannot replace having this man home with his family and students, but his country needs him. Freedom is not cheap, and Mr. Halt is entitled to the terms of Chapter 77. Again, thank you Mr. Halt and Family.
Edgartown and Chesapeake, Virginia
To the Editor:
I would like to compliment MV Times reporter Janet Hefler for her excellent coverage about West Tisbury principal Michael Halt being called up for duty in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps. Last week, I heard that the principal, Lt. Col. Halt, was being activated. I grabbed the MV Times, and while reading saw what Marshall Segall of West Tisbury had to say about the situation. I was taken back a bit by how bold and forward he was in some of his statements and actions.
Being a soldier myself, I understand that one of our duties is to protect the rights of our fellow citizens' freedom of speech rights. However, it is one thing for him and his small group of anti-war, anti-Bush hypocrites to scream at passing cars while gathered at Five Corners while holding signs also saying "Support Our Troops." It is another for him to attend a special school committee meeting to discuss Mr. Halt's situation in the manner that he did. That was totally crossing the line. At that meeting, Mr. Segall, West Tisbury's newly elected school committee member (less than two months ago), verbally tried to destroy Mr. Halt's honor, spotless reputation and the admiration for him of his students, teachers, and I would assume, most West Tisbury parents, never mind at the same time insulting every veteran, soldier, and patriotic citizen on the Island.
Mr. Segall says, because there is no draft and Mr. Halt serves as a officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, he views him as ..."a volunteer in a foreign policy decision I don't believe in, and that Mr. Halt's choice to remain a military reservist indicated his support of that policy." So, Mr. Seagull not only wants to punish Mr. Halt for his honorable contribution to his country but also create a hardship for his family and children because his "cut" in pay would be approximately almost $1,400 per month. Mr. Seagull did not want to approve his leave (have his job waiting for him upon his return, as required by federal law) nor approve Chapter 77 which offers public employees the difference in pay - civilian/military.
For an elected school committee member to go to a public meeting and state publicly how totally wrong their beloved principal and mentor's beliefs and actions are on behalf of our country, because they are not similar to his, is clearly cause for him to be bounced off that committee immediately, if not sooner.
I thought his type of people's policy was to be considerate of other people's beliefs, actions and views. Obviously not. Usually anti-war, anti-Bush protesters at Five Corners say, "We support the troops" but not the war. However, many times they have been offered personally by me to attend our welcome home ceremonies for our Island returning troops, coming home by boat or airplane. Never have I seen one of them attend.
After all his ranting and raving, Ms. Hefler reports, Mr. Segall then apologized for his reaction to everyone present, including assistant principal Bob Lane, Amy Tierney and the others, but I read no public apology that went to Mr. Halt, his family, or to the children who put on an appreciation ceremony for him or his supporters. That 30-minute ceremony in honor of their principal at their elementary school was the most memorable event I have attended in many years. The children spoke of their principal with words such as respectful, appreciative, thoughtful, considerate, caring, helpful, intelligent, funny, friendly - on and on they went. "This is what Mr. Halt means to us," they said. The children then finished off by all singing a beautiful song I never heard before, titled "American Tears". As I looked around the auditorium, not only were the children and teachers shedding some "American Tears," but I am not ashamed to say, so
To The Editor:
Although your front-page headline caught my eye, it was the story itself that caught in my throat; essentially, a man who is preparing to serve his country (that would be Marshall Segall's country too) was subject to ridicule because, presumably, his political views don't pass muster with a school committee member. To guilelessly intimate that the foreign policy of the United States somehow was approved in perpetuity by a man who volunteered his service to his fellow citizens, regardless of color, creed or political belief was stunning in its ignorance and insensitivity.
I can only imagine how Lt. Col. Michael Halt's wife and family felt. I feel only pity for a person so consumed by anger that he essentially flings himself to the ground, like a child, raging because he cannot control his environment. I am reminded of a verse from the Bible read to me as a child: "when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child. I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things...".
War is hell, and no one wants it, but there comes a time when it becomes a necessary evil. We can and should disagree without rancor, without vituperative personal attacks. Childishly lashing out doesn't bring light - only heat to the dark place in which we as a nation find ourselves.
Godspeed Col. Halt. The love and prayers of Americans go with you and the men under your care and protection.
Mr. Segall should grow up. The witches' brew you offer by way of making your feelings known poisons you as well as your fellow men.
Regina M. Policastro
Boston and Chilmark
Encourages soldiers not to go
To the Editor:
The word "surge"? evokes energy and power, but it is a misnomer. Adding 21,500 troops to the fray will bring the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq to 153,500, less than the 160,000 there one year ago (source: AP). An actual spike in troops is a moot option; that dog won't hunt, won't get 'er done, as we just don't have them unless we decide Iraq needs our National Guard more than we do.
President Bush, with his cowboy swagger, has a remarkably effective way with words. "Win." That is what we must do, because failure is not an option. The decider's words do pull wool. It's a contest of liberty-lovers versus "insurgents." The more firepower the better. Simple. Like a video game. Stop.
What does winning really mean in this context? Does it sound credible to any of U.S. that 21,500 more is what it will take to "win??" Continuing down this same path means continuing to lose. We have lost already. Lost lives, international standing, integrity, money, friends, lost loved ones.
Now, West Tisbury is losing its principal (we pray, only temporarily). For what? Those called up to "serve their country"? are faced with an unenviable moral dilemma, at least if they are not just blindly following orders and are thinking critically about what they are being asked to do in the name of their fellow Americans. Are we as a community served by having our principal leave for a faraway land enmeshed in a civil war?
There is a growing movement among the military to speak their minds and express their outrage at what they are being sent to do. One such forum is www.soldiersvoices.net. Increasing numbers of soldiers' families are speaking out against the war. Some are becoming conscientious objectors, such as First Lieutenant Ehren Watada of Hawaii, who faces six years in prison for heeding his conscience.
I believe the bravest way a soldier can serve his or her country and its people in these dark times is to refuse to go, with all the legal ramifications. I'm not sure there are "good" wars, but I know a bad one when I see it. Enlisting needn't be a pledge to turn a blind eye and agree with the U.S. president no matter what. Camaraderie should mean troops supporting each other even if they don't support the war.
I appreciate that the president took responsibility for the war in his address; the blame for more than 55,000 civilian casualties (source: iraqbodycount.org) and 3,000 U.S. deaths and many deaths and more destruction to come rests squarely on the president's shoulders. This is his failure, not a failure of the American people or the American soldiers. Now he should do the right thing, admit his failure, his defeat, listen to the will of the country and the world, and pull our people out of this illegal war.
The members of Congress should do the right thing and start impeachment hearings. Former U.S. Rep. McKinney introduced articles of impeachment a couple of weeks ago before leaving office. The grounds she cited: self-exemption from laws upon signing; suspension of basic legal proceedings; promoting illegal war; promoting torture; promoting kidnappings and renditions for torture; use of illegal weapons; obstructing inquiry and detection; replacing the veto with signing statements; failure to preserve, protect and defend the constitution; suspension of due process; unreasonable searches and seizures; non-cooperation with congress; establishment of an unconstitutional, parallel legal system.
Soldiers: I support you, but beseech you to consider the brave, patriotic option of refusing to support the war. There is a higher law. Listen to your conscience. I don't fault you if you feel you must go. I do support you. My prayers are with you. I do love this country. Its leader, however, the self-proclaimed decider, does not represent me, my will, my country, or people. Let's pull the troops back and turn the president out on his ear.
To The Editor:
The mobilization to active military service of West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt unavoidably brings to mind the classic bumper sticker which reads something along the lines of, "It will be a joyous day indeed when our schools have all the funds they need and the Pentagon has to hold bake sales." For the parents and children of West Tisbury, the bitter irony of our country's misguided priorities has, indeed, become quite a personal matter.
in your backyard
To the Editor:
No one has kind words for the abutters of Chappy affordable lots. I have no kind words for the rest of Edgartown with regard to zoning.
Our zoning regulations are designed to keep people out. Period. Land preservation is designed to keep people out. Period. Why is anyone surprised that we are where we are?
Zoning regulations were changed to specifically benefit Jenny Lane that is hailed by all except their immediate neighbors. Then Tall Trees is scorned by neighbors and the town in general, even though it is allowed by current zoning regulations. Where is the equity there? Why is anyone surprised at neighborhood anger when you struggle to get in the best neighborhood you can afford, and then a project that is not previously allowed is unceremoniously dumped in to your neighborhood? Why is almost every one of these projects sued. Bridge Housing, Jenny Lane, Chappy and others? Could it possibly be that some neighborhoods are targeted for development and others are seemingly exempt?
What are the possibilities of affordable housing on North and South Water, Summer, Cottage, Fuller, School or Morse Streets in Edgartown? Does nil come to mind?
Think of the house on the end of 12th street in Edgartown. Traffic for the last 15 years was the family car and the twice per year lost tourist. Next year, 500 car trips per day zooming by their home and children to get to the Vineyard Haven road. They are completely screwed by the new traffic density, and their house value has plummeted, and anyone that does not admit that is lying. If you live near any of these projects, it feels like spot zoning, and you are stuck with the burden. Everyone calls you a NIMBY while secretly breathing a sigh of relief that it is not going next door to them.
The town of Edgartown might take the official position of being in favor of affordable housing, however it refuses to change zoning regulations so everyone must share the burden of increased density equally. Town leaders and voters are hypocrites. When Chappy residents are accused of being NIMBYs and unfair when they exercise their constitutional rights, the selectmen, planning board and voters only need to look in a mirror to find shame for their unwillingness to change zoning so it is equitable to all.
I hope every project is sued silly until zoning is equalized, and from now on NIMBYUYAWTHIIY (NIMBY for short) should be a badge of honor. Not In My Back Yard Unless You Are Willing To Have It In Yours.
Edgartown and Boston
A volunteer needed
To the Editor:
This is a very difficult letter to write, but it must be done. I can no longer continue as coordinator of the American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days Campaign. This necessitates our finding someone who will be willing to take over the reins - very soon.
Whoever that is must be assured that he or she will have the support of an incredible team of helpers. They will gather orders from workers in stores, offices, and schools all over the Island, collect funds for these orders and turn them over to you. Then comes the fun day when workers will meet you at the boat when the boxes of daffodils arrive, pick up their bunches of flowers and rush away to deliver them.
I, in turn, will be available to help you organize all this, And you, when it is all over, will be filled with warmth and gratitude toward all those who did so much to help you complete a successful campaign for such a worthy cause.
Please call me at 508-693-0969 if you are interested. Feel free to ask for details. If I am not in when you call, please leave a message and I shall return your call.
Dorothy K. Bangs
To my friends and
To the Editor:
I have had the pleasure of practicing and living on Martha's Vineyard for half my life.
During the time I've been here, an interesting rumor starts about every five years, and it's that time again. The rumor is that I am leaving the Vineyard. Well, let me assure you this time, it is true.
Palmer Chiropractic College has offered me a teaching position, and I have accepted. Therefore I will be taking a year sabbatical. Who knows, a year may be more than they can take of my sense of "humor."
We will miss this beautiful Island, but even more will we miss the people. All of you have become a large part of our lives, and we will never forget the love, respect, and trust we have received from all of you.
Thank you all, and may God bless you and this wonderful place.
Dr. John D. Campbell and Marsha
To the Editor:
To paraphrase President Reagan, here I go again. My proposal is simply this. If somebody walks or rides a bike, they should be allowed access to the up-Island town beaches. By only allowing town residents access to town beaches, the up-Island towns have "a policy or practice of separating or segregating groups." Coincidentally that is also a definition of apartheid.
Arts should not be
To the Editor:
I recently read Dave Wilson's letter to editor concerning the issue of music, art, and other "frills"? being cut at the Edgartown School in order to improve Edgartown's MCAS math scores. The issue that the school is facing is due to the wonderful "No Child Left Behind Act."? The Edgartown School fell a whole .7 points below the state-required math scores on the MCAS test. Due to this horrible shortcoming, the school changed up the schedule so that every student is now blessed with a one-hour math class every day. With this added math there had to be sacrifices to academics, the arts, and the enrichment program.
I am a 2003 graduate of the Edgartown School and will soon be a 2007 graduate of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. I was privileged to be taught by Mr. Wilson in his music classes, choral classes and my first school play. While I understand the importance of math and other academic classes in elementary school, I do not think it is fair to simply write off the arts and other non-academics in order to boost scores.
The programs that I was involved in at my nine years at the Edgartown School shaped me into a well-rounded student and citizen and turned me into the person I am now. It is unfair to deny students of these classes. The music program teaches a special language and appreciation of an art form. The enrichment program, with its amazing mini-courses, offers valuable lessons not available in the classroom and other academics deserve just as much time as a math class.
Next year, I will be in college as a theatre major. I never would have been able to reach my potential as a young actor without the skills I gained at the Edgartown School. I learned how to act on stage in my four musicals at Edgartown. My first job stemmed off from a mini-course I took with Liz Villard, and I joined up with the IMP program (which I now work for) because of an enrichment course I took in eighth grade. It should also be noted that many high-scoring Edgartown high school seniors (one of which is a hopeful for valedictorian) were all involved in the music and enrichment programs during their time at Edgartown.
I know that the school is forced to try and raise the MCAS scores because of decisions beyond its control, but I hope that some compromise can be made so that the arts will continue to flourish at the Edgartown School.
Edward M. Cisek
To the Editor:
Martha's Vineyard offers rich multicultural experiences for my girls and students; from the Vineyard Montessori's international theme summer camp where they learned phrases and games from across the globe, watched how to make sushi at Net Result, spring rolls at Bangkok Cuisine, to activities at the Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven libraries from origami to storytelling; to Spanish students practicing their restaurant vocabulary at eighth-grade luncheons at Zapotec and Sharky's Cantina, to community and businesses contributing to the Oak Bluffs School's Brazilfest 2006 when Adam Bresnick of IFP, the M.V. Coop Bank, and the O.B. PTO generously provided money and manpower, Mayhew Center dancers taught Samba; the MVCC funding Peruvian musicians, African dancers, Flamenco workshops. The list never stops.
As the Oak Bluffs School embarks on a two-month multicultural curriculum, I invite the Island community to share its cultural wealth of ideas, travel stories, materials or simply time to educate and guide our youth to appreciate our Island's diversity. In advance of our Feb. 15 Fashion Show/Dessert Café, I would like to thank Oak Bluffs businesses; Glimpse of Tibet, Third World Trading, Laughing Bear, the Datta family, Myra Romain, April Thanhauser, Phyllis Vecchia and the O.B. PTO for proving what a great place the Island is to live, and how the Island reflects how small and special our world is.
Thank you as a parent, educator, and member of our Island's global community.
To the Editor:
We would like to say thank you to the Oak Bluffs selectmen for taking the lead in applying for grants from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that target home rehabilitation for low- and moderate-income homeowners.
This allowed us to address maintenance problems to our home that otherwise could not have been afforded on a retirement income.
We understand from The Resource Inc., the non-profit company responsible for program delivery of the grant money, that 120 units have been upgraded since 2003, and that the total money dedicated to housing rehabilitation under these grants totaled $2,550,000.
We also would like you to know that there are funds available for calendar year 2007, for the towns of Oak Bluffs and Tisbury. To get information about these funds, call 508-696-3285.
We are really glad that we inquired about this program and once again sincerely thank the Oak Bluffs selectmen who made this program work and to TRI for offering the program that accomplished this task.
Charlie and Tina Barr
An alert for horse owners
To the Editor:
Upon learning news of a recent and geographically close case of rhinovirus, the Martha's Vineyard Horse Council Inc. asks all island horse owners and riders to implement preventative measures to protect our horses and avoid more severe and costly measures.
Conferring with veterinarians, it was decided that if we can all adhere to a voluntary three-week quarantine, effective this printing, we can hopefully keep this virus away from the horses of Martha's Vineyard.
Equine herpesvirus type 1 (rhino) is passed from horse to horse through respiratory discharges. People cannot contract EHV, although they can inadvertently help spread the disease from horse to horse by contact or contaminated equipment.
Keep your horse or pony home. Eliminate unnecessary travel and exposure to larger horse populations. This includes horses shipping in for lessons, clinics, and boarding. Anyone traveling between horse farms for work, teaching or riding should come to the barn in clean clothes that have not been in contact with other horses. This includes jackets, gloves, and any outerwear. Boots must be washed and scrubbed in soapy water before coming to the farm. We ask that everyone be vigilant in this measure, despite its inconvenience, so that we can protect our herd. Thank you,
Julie Thorpe, President; Cindy Bonnell, Vice President; Stephanie Dreyer, Secretary; Jennifer Rand, Treasurer
The Martha's Vineyard Horse Council, Inc.
Shut it down
To the Editor:
Last night I was waiting in the stand-by ferry line in Woods Hole, hoping to catch an earlier ferry than the one on my reservation. To my left was a truck whose driver left it idling for over an hour, while he, too, awaited an earlier ride. In front of me was a Toyota S.U.V., whose driver also left her engine idling for over an hour. And behind me was yet another small S.U.V., whose driver chose to idle his engine apparently so that he could be warm and toasty while he read by the scanty light.
I must confess that I lacked the courage to confront these engine idlers with the fact that their choice to idle their engines was contributing, unmistakably, to global warming. Perhaps the small actions that each of us can take did not matter to them. Perhaps they are among the opponents of the idea that global warming exists. If so, they are just plain in error. Politics has determined the way in which this issue has been presented to the U.S. public, not scientific facts. Scientists are not in disagreement over global warming. It is an issue of global safety. And what we each do can make a difference.
Since I lacked the courage to confront, fearing no doubt an angry response, I decided to write a letter to the editor instead. I suggest reading a short article from "Greentips online," called "Idling Gets You Nowhere."
I also request that the Steamship Authority put signs in strategic places issuing warnings and fines to people who idle their engines while they are waiting in line. If they want warmth, they can go inside. If they want to listen to the radio or read, they can do it without turning the engine on.