Go forth and sin no more
It's been an unusual year for holiday confessions. This more or less annual rite of political passage has in the past attracted eager penitents, only too happy to be invited to cleanse themselves by having a little chat with me. This year, I've sensed reluctance, even peevishness, and in fact a sense of entitlement where their sins are concerned among many of the applicants for newspaper pardons.
I am about to make public the list of miscreants to whom I have granted (or in some cases refused) absolution. In every case, there has been some measure of sincere regret, though often, sadly enough, the penitents who've visited with me in my little room behind the newspaper office seem to regret having been caught doing what they've done more than the deplorable behavior that brought them to my confessional. In some few cases, absolution was not in the cards. The misdeeds were so ghastly as to overwhelm any possible penance that might clear the sinner's debris away. Sometimes, wholehearted penitence being absent, the sinner must be left to fend for himself. With luck some sort of political purgatory may be possible. Unhappily, for some, even purgatory may be beyond reach.
If the timing of this announcement seems off to you - official pardons generally happen at year's end -please remember that these are newspaper absolutions, not presidential pardons, so the rules and the timing are sketchy. Remember too that with newspaper absolutions, the decision to absolve or not is a whimsical one, and we wait till the last possible moment to make the yearly announcement, because, who knows, one of them may happen to rub us the right way and, well, no need to enter the confessional.
Also, we are sometimes absolving these political actors for bad stuff we know their going to do. We, sadly, must rely on our absolute confidence that candidate X will certainly misbehave as predicted in the ensuing 12 months, will pay nothing at all for the privilege, will not be rehabilitated no matter what we say, and might as well be absolved now, because they and we will certainly regret their activities in the end.
So here goes. Newspaper absolutions for 2006 go to:
The Martha's Vineyard Commission members, severally and jointly, for proposing to plan our lives for us for the next 50 years, by which time many of us will be relieved of the intrusion and tedium of such eager spoilsports.
To Mark London, MVC executive director, who recognized as he began his tenure that the development of regional impact review process was a wickedly confusing, expensive, and withering experience for applicants. He proposed changes, which have not been implemented.
To Tom Pachico, the Tisbury selectman, whose pride in self and enthusiasm for the office's perquisites led him and his fellow selectmen to reappoint him to the Tisbury port council, a position for which dozens of other Tisbury residents, none of whom were invited to apply, are nevertheless more qualified.
Oh, and that pesky Martha's Vineyard Commission again, for beginning this campaign for an Island-wide energy district of critical planning concern apparently without a care for the additional costs it will exact from homebuilders and everyday Islanders, who are desperate as it is to foot the bill for their Vineyard lives.
To the Steamship Authority for ringing that tiresome and unwarranted alarm bell about Shenandoah's endangering the safe passage of the ferries approaching the Vineyard Haven wharf.
To the folks who write Letters to the Editor in which the words "special" or "precious" appear, I've heard your appeals before. My sympathies are not engaged. No absolution.
To all the others who write Letters to the Editor complaining about the houses that the summer residents build, but delighting in the vast sums spent on Island schools, and never acknowledging that most of the money spent on education comes from real estate taxes paid by summer residents.
Which reminds me, no one needs absolution more than the Tisbury selectmen for sticking it to the commercial property owners and the summer property owners with the town's two tax rate system and the discount for year-round resident taxpayers. But, for doing what they've done and continuing to do it, Tisbury's leadership deserves no absolution and gets none.
To the SCC principals who secretly voted the Vineyard out of the league. A bad decision, done in cowardly fashion. No absolution for you.
To the Chappy 10, litigants in the battle to defeat an effort to create three one-acre affordable housing lots for deserving Islanders, if there's any absolving to be done, it will have to be done by a higher power.
Ah, well, that's enough for now, there'll be lots more forgiving to do this year.
To the many public servants and just plain folks who applied in good faith for consideration this year, but who do not find themselves listed here: be of good cheer. Some of you have not developed a record of misbehavior sufficient enough for the editor to entertain your feigned repentance nor confidently foresee your errant behavior in the year ahead. In those cases, clemency was, naturally, out of the question. But knowing what you know about your habits and practices, and knowing what we are rapidly learning about them, it would be wise to consider applying again toward the end of this year.