Letters to the Editor
It takes all kinds to make Chappy
To the Editor:
Chappaquiddick is an amazing place. I grew up in a small, shingled home on Chappy and explored the marshes, woods, and fields every day. I still go there whenever I can, to sit quietly in my dad's living room or take a walk through familiar woods. It is a place apart, separated from the rest of the world just enough to allow slower, deeper breaths. From this point of view, I understand why the neighbors of the affordable lots are fighting to keep those lots open.
But, I also know the people that live on Chappy and choose to truly make it their home, not just a seasonal escape. These people know each other, wave when they pass on the road and chat on the ferry. They understand the value of community, not just the value of natural beauty.
The three one-acre lots will become homes for three more families that will join the small community of Chappaquiddick. They will raise their children to understand the equal value of beautiful nature and strong community. These families will be an asset to the true spirit of Chappy. I will be happy to chat with them on the ferry and wave to them when we pass.
To all those opposed to the lots - please understand that our island is more than your summer retreat - it is a living, breathing community, and the three lots represent valuable members, crucial to keeping the spirit of Chappaquiddick and Martha's Vineyard alive.
Reade Kontje Milne
To the Editor:
More than a decade ago while assisting Brian Kennedy and Arthur Bailow at a burial in the West Chop Cemetery, I stood with Mike Wallace, William Styron, and Art Buchwald - a brief conversation, humorous at times, about dying and death. Though we did not know one another, I shared the depression, which they spoke of candidly, and honestly. They inspired me in those moments, as well as in writings and talks - and yes, in smiling and laughing. At the news of Mr. Buchwald's death late last night, I thanked God that Art and the other two touched my life that day, but also so true of people in general. My decade as pastor on the Vineyard continues to inspire me.
In their poignant comments that day, I realize today that they "ministered" to my own heart and soul.
In remembrance of Mr. Styron, Mr. Buchwald, and with gratitude to Mr. Wallace and so many others who have continued to inspire me.
Rev. Peter Sanborn
Hurrah for the SSA
To the Editor:
As full-time residents of Martha's Vineyard, my husband and I have logged a lot of trips back and forth between here and the Cape via the Steamship Authority over the years. I admit that for me, it took quite a while getting used to the fact that there is always the possibility that you might not be able to get on the boat of your choice or for that matter a boat at all, if you don't plan your trip accordingly.
Through the SSA, I have learned to be more patient, more tolerant, and a much better planner. I have also learned that if you're in a bind or an emergency situation and truly need to be on a particular boat, SSA employees will go above and beyond to help you in any way possible.
Case in point: This past Christmas Eve, my husband and I received the horrifying news that his brother had passed away unexpectedly in Connecticut. We had to get off the Island on Christmas morning of all days to travel there to make funeral arrangements. I telephoned the SSA ticket office out at the airport and, as luck would have it, was connected to the person whom I've always called, "my lucky charm." That person was SSA ticket agent Linda Buckley. I call Linda my lucky charm because Linda always goes out of her way to try to get you what you need and nearly always succeeds, yet when she can't give you what you ask for, still makes you feel good for having just had a pleasant conversation with her.
When I spoke to Linda that day, I was completely upset. Linda helped calm me down and immediately told me, "not to worry about a thing, because she was going to get us on the boat that we needed." And that she did. Hers was also the first sympathy card we received in the mail when we returned to the Island. For me, Linda has gone beyond being just a lucky charm; she's a guardian angel.
I know that a lot of us have concerns and/or issues with the Steamship Authority at times. It is, after all, our vital lifeline to America, as we Vineyarders like to call the mainland. But for me, I have never had any negative issues with the folks in the trenches - SSA employees like Linda who do their jobs competently and cheerfully and are willing to go the extra distance when warranted.
With that in mind, I have decided that my New Year's resolution will be to think about all of the above when I can't get the reservation that I want or when I get frustrated because my car is in the last line off the boat or when I forget to read the latest crib notes on SSA policy and make a blunder because of it. I will think of the above and be thankful that I have gotten to know many fine people who work at the SSA, people like Linda who always do their very best for you.
Thank you and have a happy and healthy 2007.
To the Editor:
In response to Erik Albert's letter of Jan. 18, titled "Beach Apartheid," perhaps Mr. Albert should take a good look at the situation. First, let's just throw up our hands and forget about the whole Massachusetts private-beach-ownership thing. That'll never change. There are several up-Island, open-to-everyone beach options, especially if he is biking or taking the bus.
How about the obvious one, Menemsha? Easy access, nice stretch of beach, a little on the crowded side, but that's a given in the summer. Squibnocket? Decent beach space (not covered with rocks or flyblown seaweed) can sometimes be hard to find, but everyone (and their dog) is welcome before 9 am and after 5 pm, at which times the beach is at its most beautiful. Aquinnah? Hats off to the Land Bank for a truly lovely stretch of beach, always available to the public. How about sparsely populated Great Rock Bight off of North Road? Or perhaps he's referring to Lucy Vincent Beach. They pack every car they can into the parking lot, add to that the walk-ons, including guests from nearby inns and those lucky or crafty enough to have found a way in, and by noon it looks like a more serenely landscaped Coney Island.
Please take into account that when whittled down to its summer boundaries, it's a fairly small place, sometimes hard-pressed to hold the burgeoning Chilmark population. If you want jam-packed sand and great waves, why not South Beach?
One more thing, please. As a black woman who grew up during the sixties, I find his use of the word "apartheid" somewhat poorly applied to the situation. We're talking about a day at the beach here, not the appearance of a "white's only" sign at the Chilmark Store.
Tisbury and Chilmark
Tisbury seeks help on school formula
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to state Sen. Robert O'Leary.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to meet with myself and others regarding the proposal to reinterpret the formula for regional school funding, This proposal will adversely impact the town of Tisbury. As you know, escalating costs combined with shrinking state aide have led to significant budgeting challenges within our community. It is these issues that have made this school funding debate so important. Tisbury has much to lose should this ambiguous policy be implemented. The Island communities have long worked under the existing formula without issue, and now this provision threatens to throw the Island's funding formula into uncertainty. This change has the possibility of pitting town against town as three towns stand to be hurt by it.
Therefore, we would respectfully request that, in your capacity as our state senator, you file legislation to rectify this obvious flaw in our state's school funding formula. As we mentioned, one possibility would be to state that if all towns in the school district are above the cap, then we might skip the transition period and go straight to the new formula. It is during this transition period that the inequities occur. Additionally, we would ask that you explore the possibility of providing Tisbury short-term "pot hole" funds.
Thank you again for your assistance, and I look forward to working with your office on this most important issue.
Tisbury Board of Selectmen
To the Editor:
It's not enough that the taxpayers of Oak Bluffs pay the building inspector's salary and benefits, which include the use of a town owned vehicle that he uses to travel to and from Aquinnah, his home as well as where he is town building inspector. But Mr. Wiener chose on Jan. 17, 2007, at 1:25 pm to operate that vehicle in a way that one might describe as unprofessional and possibly life threatening to others, which with a town logo plastered on the side I guess gives him the authority to do. I wonder if the powers that be realize that had he injured/killed someone while en route to Aquinnah that day, that liability would be on the town of Oak Bluffs, or would it have been Aquinnah? Since I'm sure he was racing up that way to do official Aquinnah business in the town of Oak Bluffs vehicle.
Emotions run deep
To the Editor:
The Jan. 11 edition of The Martha's Vineyard Times featured an article about our friend Michael Halt, the West Tisbury School principal who is to be deployed to Iraq.
The article carried an amended version of the Marine Corps. Hymn, which was sung to him by friends at a recent farewell party. There was no attribution of authorship of the obviously personal lyrics. It was an oversight; the paper was remiss. The words, composed by my husband Bill McGrath, were from one serviceman to another on the eve of deployment. While the singing was all "hail and farewell," emotions run deep. As the spouse of a career Coast Guard officer, my heart goes out to Mike and his family. We wish him Godspeed.
I enjoy the extensive news coverage that The Times provides, and I trust you will exercise a little more care in the area of attribution.
Everyone wishes Michael Halt well
To the Editor:
I am a senior at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. I was saddened to read some letters in last week's paper that bashed Marshall H. Segall for comments he made in an Up-Island school committee meeting. Mr. Segall objected to a small piece of a motion to approve Michael Halt's leaving the West Tisbury School to serve in Iraq. Mr. Segal did not try to block anything, and he spoke in a very appropriate manner. Yet, Mr. Segal was attacked for the words he said. One would hope that on a peaceful Island like our own, everyone would respect something as simple as free speech and would be able to voice their concerns without blowing everything out of proportion. It is clear that the current situation in the world draws strong emotions from all sides, but it is very important to remember that we be decent and respecting. Everyone knows that whether we are for or against the war, we all support Mr. Halt and wish him the best of luck. No one is in disagreement of that.
On a slightly different note, to Tara Memmen, who briefly spoke out last week against the war protesters in the Fourth of July parade, ("Disgrace" was the word she used), I think that our nation's birthday is perhaps the best time to demonstrate the First Amendment.
Thanks for your service
To the Editor:
Always faithful. Thanks, Lt. Col. Michael Halt, USMC, for your service and sacrifice for our country.
Philip J. Cronin
To The Editor:
War protestor recants; apologizes to Bush.
Now there's a headline. It's got everything. It's provocative. It's controversial. It's topical. And it's also totally false. Much like the headline over the factual article concerning Marshall Segall's motion at the West Tisbury school board meeting.
I hope you're still with me because, unfortunately, many readers stop at the headline. The function of a headline, of course, is to focus the reader on the core of the story that follows. It also serves to precondition the reader to look for key facts in the story that support the premise of the headline. Apparently some readers failed to notice that nothing reported in the article supported anything in the headline.
Quite the opposite. The headline was taken to be the story. Consequently, Mr. Segall was vilified for something he had, in fact, not done and chastised for a rebuke he had not received.
Freedom of the press is a good and glorious thing, having saved the Republic on more than one occasion. But, of course, with every right comes a concomitant responsibility. Newspapers routinely print corrections when facts concerning names, dates and geographical details are wrongly reported.
In view of the fact that the headline writer for Ms. Hefler's fine article has not only done her a disservice but has also called into question Mr. Segall's stellar reputation, I can't help but wonder if The Times, in the interest of good journalism, doesn't owe its readers a correction statement for the errors in the headline in question.
To wit: Mr. Segall did not, in fact, call for the board to withhold support for Michael Halt. Nor did the board reject anything said, done, or so moved by Mr. Segall at the school committee meeting that evening.
Let the Iraq fire burn itself out
To the Editor:
Just before the Bush administration invaded Iraq in March 2003, I wrote a letter to The Times pointing out that the British had had no success in what was then called Arabia after WWI, and that we could expect to find the same mess of tribal hatreds in modern Iraq. I also suggested that invading a Muslim country would play into Osama bin Laden's hands by creating far more numerous and dangerous anti-American terrorists. I concluded, "To attack Iraq now, especially without U.N. authority, might be the worst decision any American administration has made in a hundred years."
I would have been happy to be wrong. I would also have been happy if I'd been right and the Bush administration had come around after a few months and controlled the damage done by the decision to invade. There is very little satisfaction in "I told you so" when the disaster is so horrible.
Suppose you advise someone not to light a campfire in a dry forest. Suppose the person ignores your advice and starts a forest fire. It does no good to say, "I told you so." Right or wrong, you have to fight the forest fire anyway. To push the metaphor a bit further, the forest fire in Iraq is so enormous that we appear unable to put it out. We can send in more firefighters, but there now seems little hope of stemming the violence, and fighting the fire is only costing us the lives of brave men and women. Perhaps, as with a forest fire, the best we can do now is pull the crews out to the perimeters, try to contain the fire, and let it burn itself out.
If we occupy only Iraq's borders, we can prevent incursions from Syria and Iran, leaving the cities and the oil fields for the Iraqis to fight over among themselves. Using air power from bases in Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and at sea, we can still prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for terrorists. It will take almost as many "firefighters" as we have in interior Iraq now, but they will be less in harm's way.
Certainly Iraq will fall to chaos when we leave, but I think it would eventually have fallen to chaos anyway. The government that will arise from the ashes will not be a western-style democracy, but history should have told us that that was a always a pipe dream. There will be a new brutal regime, maybe Shi'a rather than Sunni, but why did anyone think a brutal war would end brutality in Iraq?
School committee member ought to apologize
To the Editor:
Michael Halt, the principal of the West Tisbury School, who is now on leave due to his being called to active duty, is one of the nicest, most honorable people that I have ever met in my life. All you have to do is spend a little time with the children, Cooper, Conner, and Maggie, and you will realize that Mike has rubbed off on them.
I had a chance to see Mike on Saturday at the hockey rink. I am sure he had a million and one things to do before he shipped off on Monday, but true to form he was there for his family. My talk with him was brief. I thanked him for what he was doing, offered my help in any way while he was gone and offered that God bless him.
Like most Vineyarders, one of the first sections I look at in The Times is the Letters to the Editor. Marshall Segall writes of submitting a motion at special meeting "to offer the committee's best wishes and hopes for a speedy and safe return" for Mr. Halt.
But as I glance through the rest of the paper, I see how Mr. Segall was part of a group protesting the war at Five Corners. Mr. Segall has every right to be a part of this group. The same right that others have who support the war. This is what makes our country so great.
Marshall Segall stood at Five Corners and was said to be holding a sign that read "W. Don't send our principal to kill people in Iraq." Mr. Segall, who is a member of the West Tisbury school committee, should be ashamed of himself for holding up such a sign. Michael Halt is not going to Iraq to kill people. How many children read your sign? What were you thinking? Did Michael Halt's family read this?
It is time for Mr. Segall to send another letter to the editor apologizing to the family of Michael Halt and Michael's extended family, the children of the West Tisbury schools. If he is not man enough to do that, then he should resign from the West Tisbury school committee.