Letters to the Editor
So many have helped
To the Editor:
The past couple of years have been very difficult. I have had several surgeries, and my wife passed away. Through it all, so many people have been very helpful.
One person who stands out over the years is Tom Bennett (Island Counseling Services director). He has been there for me and I do not know how many other people on the Island.
This is a good time to say thank you to my family, the members of my congregation, and certainly the guys and the rescue personnel who helped save me when I fell into the harbor Sunday evening.
After one person heard the story of how my dog Maui saved my life, he said I should take him out for a T-bone steak. Moe's favorite treat is prime rib from the Square Rigger Restaurant. I don't think I can take him in and sit him at a table, but this weekend I'm going to get him a prime rib, and I will just watch him eat the whole baby.
Up-Island combo needed
To the Editor:
In my lifetime, the Island has changed a lot. I went to school in the old two-room West Tisbury School, now the town hall. After fourth grade, I moved to the new school on Old County Road.
Since that time, Island elementary schools have had a population boom and have either rebuilt or expanded. As the real estate climate surged, the Island has become a lot less affordable for families raising kids. Should I tell you something you do not know?
As predicted several years ago by a farmer friend of mine, many of the schools are seeing a decline in student population.
We are very lucky on the Island. We have really good quality schools with great teaching staffs that seem to enjoy their jobs. Most public schools in this country struggle with overburdened teachers dealing with huge classroom sizes and little support. We have a bit of gold here on the Island, and whether you have a child in school or not, you should know that our schools are part of what make this community unique.
Now we head up-Island to the Up Island Regional School District. We see that the West Tisbury FinCom has decided not to approve the UIRSD budget. This could mean back to the drawing board.
Making cuts on school budgets is tricky business. If you are going to cut out say $100,000, where does that come from? It is certainly not random.
In 2001-2002, the West Tisbury School population K-8 was 397 and now it is down to 274. Currently in Chilmark you have 48 students K-5, an average of 8 students per class. I think to operate two schools, several miles apart when there is clearly plenty of room at one school to absorb more students is in question.
I know many Chilmarkers love their school and the idea of keeping their school. Unfortunately to pay two principals, two teaching staffs and two maintenance crews in two separate schools in close neighboring towns with declining student population may be unrealistic
I know this idea is not new, and I am sure many do not like this idea, but the cost of operating schools will not likely come down, and instead of watering down the quality in two schools in the UIRSD with constant cuts, we should really consider becoming one efficient, successful up-Island school.
Stand up for
To the Editor:
I live and work walking distance to downtown Vineyard Haven. We all appreciate the niceties, relative quiet, walk to everything - SSA, post office, shopping, etc. There is a misconception about local business. It's hardly what one might expect in this, the main port of Martha's Vineyard. Businesses languish most of the year, yet somehow are expected to remain open. Those that stay open serve the community, as there's no financial incentive. Businesses come and go quietly as we debate issues to improve our lot.
Now beer and wine is being placed on the town warrant. Fortunately we have Rockport, Mass. as a test case. The reports are in on this shore town that went "wet." What's most remarkable, is how unremarkable the changes were. As proposed, B&W in Tisbury would practically go unnoticed. As written in the Tisbury B&W language proposal Dec. 12, 2006, "not less than 30 persons, to be consumed with meals only." Either a waiter or waitress must serve B&W only to a dining table. The sale of alcohol only without meals shall be prohibited."
Like the reopening of the theatre, it's a piece of the incremental puzzle that then is a help - not a panacea. The pedestrian quality enhanced by one more shop staying open longer because there's one more reason for residents and visitors to stay in town. The fallout - a flurry of fears followed by complete boredom. So, what are we afraid of? Ultimately the results of a vote answer the real issue we've known for years. Who cares? Who stands up for the business community in Vineyard Haven? We are, after all, part of the community.
see the opera
To the Editor:
Benjamin Hall is offering a tremendous public service to Vineyarders this winter by presenting the taped "live" feeds (or some such technological terms) from New York's Metropolitan Opera at the Capawock.
These productions are impossible to describe in mere words or photographs. Thrilling music, gorgeous sets and costumes, magical voices - all captured in crystal-clear digital format (with subtitles!), backstage visits, and interviews. It's sad to have seen so few young folks in the audience. If they only had one exposure to this amazing art form, they might discover a lifelong passion. And here it's being offered on a silver platter, at bargain prices, in Capawock comfort.
Please, parents and teachers, take the kids to one of these performances. Even if you've missed "The Magic Flute" and "I, Puritani", there is still time to see Placido Domingo on February 11, in "The First Emperor" and other subsequent exciting productions.
Thank you, Mr. Hall.
To the Editor:
99.9 percent of Martha's Vineyard's energy security relies on imports from the mainland. Two connections, one permanent, one intermittent, convey the energy we consume on a daily basis. Four underwater cables form the fixed umbilical cord that conducts electricity from the mainland. The intermittent ferry/barge connection supplies the fuel, oil and propane we consume daily.
Martha's Vineyard consumes 43 megawatts (MW) of electricity in the summer and 33 MW in the winter. The electrical umbilical cords are limited in capacity and prone to damage by anchors and net drags. Costly upgrades to our umbilical cord may be required. Our intermittent ferry/barge connection is expensive. Gasoline accounts for 32 percent of our energy diet. Island gasoline prices are at least 50 cents a gallon higher than on the mainland.
Dealing with energy conservation is not new on Martha's Vineyard. The Vineyard Energy Project, the Cape Light Compact (CLC) and the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) are aggressively pursuing reductions in energy demand through energy efficiency. The Vineyard Energy Project has laid out a plan for increasing land-based wind power 22 percent by 2015.
Dealing with energy supply, to date, has not been on the radar screen at either the Compact or the commission. Energy supply is now under consideration at the Cape Light Compact, and energy supply should also be under consideration on the Island.
Two years ago the six towns on Martha's Vineyard voted to support the development and implementation of a clear, comprehensive energy plan. The towns pledged to work toward the Island-wide goal of becoming a renewable-energy Island. The towns and all the residents of Martha's Vineyard must now deal with the energy realities associated with becoming a renewable energy Island.
Martha's Vineyard will have to figure out how to generate 43 MW of electricity utilizing renewable fuels. Martha's Vineyard will have to decide what renewable fuel will power our automobiles. Understanding the concepts, issues, and requirements for becoming an Island self-sufficient in energy utilizing renewable fuels, will require a paradigm shift in our thinking about energy.
A renewable energy Island can be achieved within 10 years. Three things are needed: a plan, a program, and then execution. In year one, a plan should be developed. An Island-wide energy DCPC is the best tool available on Martha's Vineyard for developing the plan. In years two and three, a design program should be undertaken. And, in years four through 10, execution and implementation should take place. In 10 years. Martha's Vineyard can become a renewable-energy Island.
Editor's Note: Peter Cabana is an elected Martha's Vineyard commission member and representative from Tisbury to the Cape Light Compact.
To the Editor:
In response to the Dana Nunes letter published in the Jan. 25, 2007 Martha's Vineyard Times, concerning private beaches:
Apparently several, like Dana, feel the private beach issue will never change in Massachusetts, as Dana elaborates. Dana suggests it is all Massachusetts, but it is really just Martha's Vineyard. Only here has the concept of private beaches been exploited to such a degree. Though there are small pockets of private beaches elsewhere in Massachusetts, there is no place in the world that closes off 95 percent of its shoreline to the public and then pretends it is a liberal community.
And this is all partly because your government doesn't care, together with an obscure mistake in history whereby Martha's Vineyard became forcibly annexed by Massachusetts (by being removed from the Colony of New York) in 1692, and the courts never read the conditions plainly stated in the Charter of William and Mary, as attached to that transfer, which said :
"That all public lands.... now, held and enjoyed by persons, towns, or villages on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, hereafter held and enjoyed according to the true purport and intent of such respective grant."
I find it interesting that lawmakers have continually ignored this important piece of history, as they continue to enforce other Colonial laws that restrict access to the public on what is supposed to be public lands.
This may not be called apartheid, as Dana says, but it is surely a true travesty continued to be levied on the residents of this Island, even to this day.
Paul D. Adler
Of course it's beach apartheid
To the Editor:
Let me start by stating that I believe like many others that the public has a basic fundamental right to access the beach. The proposal I have put forth has been simply this: If someone walks or rides a bike, they should be allowed access to the up-Island town beaches. To justify exclusion from up-Island town beaches because of other up-Island public beaches is akin to "separate but equal." Also to decry private beaches while defending the up-Island towns' exclusionary beach policies is the height of hypocrisy.
One more thing, please. Google defines apartheid as "a policy or practice of separating or segregating groups." To think that the up-Island towns' beach policies don't meet this definition is ridiculous. For those who say the proposal is unrealistic, look no further than Nantucket.
I for one would like to hear how certain people and groups feel about the proposal. A simple letter to the editor or editorial would do. This way we would know where everyone stands, weather for or against. First the up-Island selectman. I predict we won't here much from them. Next The Martha's Vineyard Commission and its spin-off, The Island Plan. Both of their web sites talk extensively of the "island community" as well as how important access to the beach is. Surely the public walking or riding a bike to a town beach is compatible with this. Another group to weigh in is the editorial boards of the local papers.
Lastly, here is an idea that I believe would be a first for the Island. Let's have an all-Island vote. All Island residents could vote on the proposal. The Island would be like a democracy and who wouldn't like that?
To the Editor:
I feel that I need to thank the Vineyard Montessori School staff, both past and present, for the wonderful and truly inspiring work they do for the children of this island. I am lucky to have attended the Vineyard Montessori School when I was four years old, and now my son is the lucky one, half way through his second year in their care. He has blossomed into a boy who loves to learn, explore, and find creativity in everything he sees. I feel joy when I step inside the fence at this school every day. It is worth much more than its weight in gold. Thank you for being a special part of our lives; you have all made a tremendous impact in Taylor's love of learning.
Take America back
To the Editor:
It is an absolute shame that a great country such as ours, of hard working, faithful and peace loving Americans, has to endure years of political, moral, economic and foreign failure only to have to work twice as hard after to fix things yet again. We have been subjected too long to a government that calls speaking your mind anti-American and unpatriotic. Have they forgotten that speaking our minds, whether our opinions are popular or not, has been an unalienable right on which this great country was founded? Blindly labeling the growing majority of American voices with concern over an all-too-violent, all-too-long war as anti-American or unpatriotic, is, to say the very least, just plain ignorant. Ignorant of the valued history and direction of this country. Ignorant of the strength of our spirit. Ignorant of the faith and beliefs that we hold close and dear. Ignorant to what this beautiful country of ours is all about.
It's time to get back into the respectful thoughts and visions of our foreign partners, friends, and neighbors, and it's time we show them an American society that is a real and genuine partner, not an unaccountable adversary. We need to show the people in our own country that we all stand hand and hand, side by side, no matter rich or poor, no matter race or religion, in total support of what is right for all people, and not just what is deemed right for those chosen few.
The recent separation of classes in this country should be rightfully and quickly returned and restored to an association of the masses, and I can find nor fathom no better person to bring together those people than you Sen. Hillary Clinton. Let's take the direction of our country back from special interest and the self-serving few, and let's all work together to proudly show the world that we are the real Americans, the Americans of compassion, the Americans of strength, and the Americans of hope and good will. Let's show them who we really are, and really always were.
Negative effects of MCAS
To the Editor:
In a letter in the Jan. 11 Times, I presented the idea that every school create a task force to document the negative effects of MCAS testing.
In light of Dr. Mel Levine's work in his book, "A Mind at a Time," which by its very nature opposes the negative affects MCAS is having on classroom time, how can parents and schools come together on this new understanding of learning?
In the past we have trusted schools to do it all. Parents must not forget they are a responsible entity in the evolution of education. Today, many schools are asking parents and children to sign contracts that they will strive to reach higher standards. Some schools are even making parents come in for detention. What schools are inadvertently saying is, we can't do it alone. What can they do, when the state says conform to MCAS or lose funding? Schools need our feedback in finding solutions to meeting our children's needs, to see the whole child - intelligent, sensitive, and creative. We need schools that stand up for the arts, phys. ed., recess, social/emotional awareness, and family culture and new approaches to academics, in the midst of MCAS. It seems the State has no regard for these expansive learning areas.
Both teachers and parents have long since been the most overworked and underpaid professions and have in the past blamed each other for not doing enough. Parents and schools must show responsibility and authority, using effective strategies to pressure state officials to work with us rather than against us. Together we can promote the kind of learning that Dr. Levine shared with educators two weeks ago, preserving the value of all vital areas of learning.
Where do we begin? Schools could invite parents to get involved with solution-based dialogue. Inform parents of the intrinsic scheduling and class work problems. Document the effects of MCAS and send this information to our state representatives. Together, parents and schools could reassess what their goals are of education for children and how to come together to meet these goals to satisfy all areas of learning, keeping in mind that family culture is also vital. Parents and schools could brainstorm some creative ideas for reassessing scheduling, the uses of homework at home and within the class structure, one-to-one attention, and how to maintain, provide, and stand up for a balance throughout the class subjects. Evaluate the need to include a variety of after-school activities, giving parents consideration and flexibility for their busy schedules, too. How do the Europeans do it, who have very strong family and cultural bases? Schools could invite parents to sit in on meetings, learning about the issues and volunteer to work on some, and parents could bring up some very important questions to school administrators about documenting.
Will the school document the tightening of scheduling due to the MCAS system in ways that defend learning time? Take note of how teachers are handling this pressure, and their complaints. How added pressure has affected discipline? Assess why there is a growing need for homework clubs, study halls? Documenting the numbers of children staying after school and others who attend homework club? Documenting how often the arts, phys. ed., and recess are taken in whole or in part or used for class work, homework, make-up work, or study hall? Notify parents when the arts or phys. ed. or recess are cut? How would teachers feel if they had to sign parents' prewritten contracts to ensure such things as gym, recess, daily communication, and natural learning consequences as opposed to non-related punishments?
How will the school be responding to Dr. Mel Levine's seminar in terms of adopting this new learning research into teaching and curriculums across the board? Will the school be adding it to their school philosophy and goals? To foster healthy, happy, children who are actively learning and connecting both at home and at school? Adopting philosophies that bring together teachers and parents in positives and in high esteem? Will teachers participate in further training and how will schools enlighten parents to these new research findings about learning?
Can we come together to create the kind of education that will help children make connections to life, interests, careers, family, friends, and society? The governmentally mandated MCAS testing is taking the human element out of teaching and generalizing us all. So is the new wealth-based funding system that counts the number of residents by their P.O. Box numbers in each town. Because of it, Tisbury will be paying one million dollars more a year to the government for public education. Yet Tisbury School won't be benefiting from it. Schools don't have the power to change these mandates, but people do. If we speak out at our town meetings, school boards, and to state reps, we may be able to effect changes.
To the Editor:
Surprised to see Riggs Parker's comments ["Yacht owner sues Chilmark for Menemsha dockage, Jan. 25, MVTimes] about Paul DeJesus's lawsuit vs. Mr. Parker and the town of Chilmark. The suit is Mr. DeJesus's, not mine. I have no idea what Mr. Parker is referring to as a "mega-palace."
I bought a historic home in Chilmark with Ron Rappaport's help some two years ago and have consciously chosen to respect its history and tradition by not altering any of its configuration, by comparison with the teardowns and new McMansions that have been allowed to flourish in Chilmark, contrary to the master plan that Mr. Parker has publicly referenced.
My last boat that used town dock space was a very traditional, flat-bottomed steel trawler, not a Feadship or Ferretti, not even a Hinckley Picnic Boat that Mr. Parker surveys the harbor with. Mr. Parker should deal with the facts.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, including Mr. Parker, however what they are not entitled to, particularly when they are sworn public fiduciaries, are their own selective and arbitrary group of facts. There is no place for discrimination and selective rule enforcement in Chilmark by Mr. Parker.