Letters to the Editor
An understanding teacher
To the Editor:
John Morelli was not the only great teacher I had at MVRHS, but he was the one who understood me best. I loved him very much.
During senior year. I discovered Jack Kerouac and begged Mr. Morelli to let our class read "On the Road." It was new to me, and I was excited about it. He ordered a box of copies, and when the box arrived he let me open it.
I liked English class all through high school, but I did not do homework on any regular basis. When I stopped handing in assignments altogether, Mr. Morelli pulled me aside. "You can bring them in when you get around to it, but bring them in," he told me. "I just want to read what you write."
It's important not to lose track of people. I would give a great deal to have taken my sons over, one of these afternoons, and talked books with Mr. Morelli again.
To the Editor:
My family and I would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to The Resource Inc. (TRI), to its program manager, Ted Amaral, and to contractor Ty Rossi for the investment of time, work, and enthusiasm they gave to our recent house repair project. We would also like to thank our friends and neighbors, Henry and Holly Stephenson, who introduced us to this great program.
TRI is a non-profit organization that awards grants to Island towns to provide loans for Island residents in need of doing significant home repairs.
As a school teacher, I met the financial guidelines to receive this loan, and if I don't sell my house within the next 15 years, the loan will be completely forgiven. I know that there are many people on the Island that would benefit from this wonderful program. Ted Amaral was the best possible person to work with, and we are very happy and grateful for our much improved home. Our sincere thanks to all who helped.
To the Editor:
There is a lot of cynicism about Dukes County government, cynicism fed by facts, ignorance, and hearsay. As a member of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission, I am trying to learn the facts and to get rid of my inaccurate perceptions. The following understandings are mine alone and do not represent the position of the Charter Study Commission.
So what have I learned?
Dukes County government is made up of five semi-autonomous units - the airport, the office of sheriff, the Registry of Deeds and courthouse, the treasurer, and the county commissioners and county manager.
The county's annual operating budget is $7,935,000. The office of the sheriff accounts for 47 percent, or $3,700,000, of the county's annual operating budget; the airport accounts for 34 percent, $2,710,000; all other functions combined account for the remaining 19 percent, $1,525,000.
The towns pay less than 10 percent, or $770,000, of the county's $7,900,000 operating budget through their annual assessments. The remaining 90 percent comes from other sources.
The county has assets valued at $95 million. Eighty-four percent of these assets, or $79.7, are airport-related. If Dukes County government were to be abolished, all of its assets would be transferred to the Commonwealth, or other agencies, without compensation to Dukes County towns.
The county has the equivalent of 84 employees. The office of the sheriff has 56 percent of the employees (47); the airport has 27 percent of the employees (23). The remaining 17 percent of the employees (14) are distributed across the other functions.
The most politically volatile area of County government - the county commissioners and the county manager - collectively account for 11 percent of the County's operating budget ($875,000) and eight percent of its employees (6.5).
The roles of the airport, the sheriff, the Registry of Deeds, and the treasurer are pretty self-evident, so I won't describe them here.
The county commissioners perform a policy-setting, or legislative, role. Some of their most important roles are to appoint airport commissioners and the Island representative to the Steamship Authority, to hire the county manager, and to serve as an advocate for the Island to help make useful things happen.
The county manager performs an operating, or executive, role. Some of the services provided by the county manager are health-care access for Islanders, a veterans agent to assist veterans in all towns, rodent control for the schools and towns, discounted engineering services for the towns, management of beaches and other county property, and serving as a watchdog for spending in all county functions.
The only way that Dukes County government can be changed or abolished is via a charter study commission recommendation that is approved by the voters. A binding decision to change or abolish county government cannot be made by town meetings or by citizen petitions. For substantive changes or abolishment, the legislature and the governor of the Commonwealth must approve the recommendations before they are approved by county voters.
The charter study commission has seven possible choices that it could recommend for Dukes County. The options range from leaving county government as is with no changes at all, to abolishing county government with no replacement.
If Dukes County government were abolished, the airport, the office of the sheriff, and the Registry of Deeds and courthouse would continue under new management. They would be under the control of either the Commonwealth or another agency. The treasurer, the county commissioners, and the county manager would no longer exist and their current functions would return to the towns, or cease entirely.
If the charter study commission were to recommend abolishing or substantially changing Dukes County government, the earliest that the changes could become effective after being approved by voters would be January 2013. This is due to a lengthy approval cycle which involves getting approval from the state legislature, the governor, and then county voters.
Some types of changes to county governance only require approval by county voters and do not require state approval. If the charter study commission were to recommend these types of changes, the soonest they could be implemented after being approved by voters would be January 2011.
If the voters turn down the recommendations of the Charter Study Commission, Dukes County government will continue as it is, with no changes.
In November, the Charter Study Commission will start to narrow its choices in preparation for making recommendations to the voters. The facts will influence the recommendations, of course. But subjective considerations will also be important. What should county government do? What unique governance needs do we have because of our Island-ness? Is it possible to design a governance structure that can withstand incompetence by hired, appointed, or elected incumbents? How can governance be kept accountable to voters and to town governments? How can we encourage innovation and constructive entrepreneurial approaches? How can county government be made relevant and challenging enough to attract exceptional candidates? The list of considerations is long.
Each of the 23 members of the charter study commission is developing her/his own view of the county's future. If you care about what happens to county government, please let the Dukes County Charter Study Commission members know what you think by sharing your ideas and questions via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or surface mail (P.O. Box 2925, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557).
One cat's life
To the Editor:
This letter is to share about one cat's life on the Vineyard. Her story begins in the spring of 1991, at the West Tisbury Elementary School. I was in the seventh grade, and on this day Fran Bradley and her son, Matt, brought a basket of kittens to the classroom. How lucky. All the kittens were taken into the hands of some very happy kids. All except one, she was so little, the runt of the bunch. Her eyes had just opened. She was fluffy and calico, and I took her home. I named her Snickers, like all the colors of the candy bar (a favorite food of mine then). But that name didn't stick, she was then called "kit-ten". Kit-ten spent her life with her human family living on State Road in West Tisbury. Kind and gentle, she made a great feline companion.
I graduated high school and began the "Island Shuffle." Kit-ten didn't like moving every season, so she stayed with my parents on State Road. In my early 20s, I moved off the Island. I still couldn't take the cat with me because here, off-Island, there are actual animals that prey on friendly felines for lunch. So, she stayed where she was happy and safe, right at home on the Vineyard. She began to enjoy the semi-retired life with winters in sunny Florida and vacations at the RV resort. Who knew, a cat that enjoyed traveling.
But there's another side of this story. One about your neighbors, or maybe even people you call a friend. The Vineyard does have a predator to our cats and our dogs. It's called the automobile, the SUV, the dump truck. Maybe driven by people we know, our friends and neighbors. Maybe driving too fast and maybe by a much too careless human. On the morning of Oct. 11, Kit-ten left her State Road home and didn't come back. She was hit by one of these predators, and left in the middle of the road in front of the MV Co-op Bank.
I want to know how many of you friends and neighbors kept driving, swerving to avoid hitting her again? How many of you actually know me or my family? I hear that our cat was the third recent hit-and-run in the area. Is speed the factor? Or people who just don't care about animals? Is 35 mph too fast for this stretch of State Road? And why is there a passing zone in front of the MV Co-op Bank? Has anyone else ever noticed this? Having spent most of my life on this road, yes, I know it's busy. Actually, very busy. It's a thickly settled business zone and, yes, 35 mph is too fast. Cars are going about all day long. And having witnessed the traffic my whole life, I know people speed at night and during their morning work commute. And before I get a stupid response, I know the cat should not have been in the road. That's where the speed and carelessness ties into everything.
Kit-ten lived to be 17 years old. She is greatly missed by her human family, who are pondering the question, "What kind of person does this? Is it someone we know?"
I would like to thank Chris Murphy of Chilmark for kindly stopping and for taking our cat to West Tisbury animal control. It was very nice and respectable of him. I would also like to thank Joan Jenkinson for her kind words to our family and doing her job so well.
Kit-ten was cremated at the MSPCA on Oct. 18, hours before we got to claim her remains. She was never able to come home.
A few years ago, while dining at the Beach Plum Inn, I found a one-eyed cat missing from her owners. I don't remember your name. How is your cat? Your story had a happy ending.
Warren, Maine and
Joe and Judy Amaral
Your help needed
To the Editor:
Again this year, the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, along with Reliable Market and several of our local houses of worship, are working together to ensure that our Island families that are in need will have a great Thanksgiving meal (and Christmas). We are asking you to sponsor one of these families by contributing the cost of one family's meal, $25. Last year we were able to provide more than 100 meals for Thanksgiving and the December holiday. Unfortunately we ran out of meals. We plan on ordering more meals this year, but we will need your help.
Reliable Foods is putting together a special Thanksgiving Basket that includes: Turkey, stuffing, 5 lbs. potatoes, 1lb. cranberry sauce, I dozen dinner rolls, 2 lbs. onions, 1 lb. carrots, 3 lbs. apples, fresh butternut squash, canned pumpkin and gravy. They provided us with our Christmas/Holiday meal last December, and it was a wonderful complete meal for $25.
The Vineyard Committee on Hunger (VCOH), which operates the Surplus Food Program, will then order one large shipment and distribute the meals at our November and December distributions. Please make your checks out to the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, and indicate it is for the Family-to-Family Program. It is tax deductible. You can give your checks to any VCOH member or send it to the VCOH, PO Box 1874, VH 02568.
Remember this year, with high fuel prices looming on the horizon, one family helping one family is a wonderful way to celebrate an Island Thanksgiving.
For the Vineyard Committee on Hunger
To the Editor:
On Oct. 18, Island Grown Initiative (IGI) presented its mobile poultry processing unit (MPPU) to Island farmers, representatives from each town's board of health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The demo was a monumental step in providing safe, clean, humane, size-appropriate on-Island processing - so farmers no longer have to transport their animals off-Island, wasting valuable time, money, and fossil fuels. Nor must animals be subjected to unnecessary stress.
Thanks to many people, there is now a constructive dialogue between growers, the local and state governments. So, as a community, we can grow more healthy food for our families, which also supports both the local economy and the agricultural integrity of the Island's open working farmlands.
The MPPU demonstration was the culmination of the widespread support that we have received since the launch of IGI's Pastured Poultry Pilot Program. IGI would like to thank: South Mountain Company, Farm Neck Foundation, Permanent Endowment of Martha's Vineyard, Dakota Organic Beef, The FARM Institute, Cronig's Market, Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center, Big Sky Tents, Souza Landscaping, the MV Agricultural Society, Elio Silva, Richard Andre, and Oscar Thompson.
Most importantly, IGI applauds all the growers, the towns' boards of health and the Mass. Dept. of Public Health for their commitment to clean, safe, humane, locally grown food for our Island.
Island Grown Initiative
More than expected
To the Editor:
The Vineyard Committee on Hunger is wrapping things up from the Outerland Silent Auction and Dance. We want to thank Outerland for the donated space, thank the MV Times for their wonderful coverage of Island events, and a special thank you to all the generous stores and artists for their fabulous contributions. We couldn't have done it without you. All of these exciting gifts helped us to reach an amount which exceeded our expectations. Our chairman, Jeri Dantzig, did a terrific job.
Stay tuned for our event next year - it will be bigger and better than ever. Thank you all for making this
year so successful.
Carole G. Early
Vineyard Committee on Hunger
For the record
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Museum is to be commended for its recent restoration of the Edgartown and East Chop lighthouses. But, the last time either lighthouse was painted was under the care of Vineyard Environmental Research Institute (VERI) for six years, not by the U. S. Coast Guard. For the record, both of these lighthouses were sand-blasted, inside and out, and painted under VERI's auspices. VERI also replaced the windows in the lighting rooms of both lighthouses, and installed new balcony railings at the top of the East Chop Lighthouse.
If it wasn't for the effort of VERI in giving testimony before U. S. Congress in the mid-1980s, and having three of the Island's lighthouses transferred to their care - these lighthouses were scheduled to be torn down and replaced by steel skeletons with strobe lights.
After six years of fundraising and loving restoration of three of our Island's lighthouses, VERI transferred the care and control of our Island's historic sentinels to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, now the Martha's Vineyard Museum.
William E. Marks
I will miss you
To the Editor:
Virginia, I will miss you. I will miss you at Chilmark Chocolates. I will miss seeing you riding your bike.
I will miss seeing your happy, cheerful face. But, I will always know that you are smiling down from heaven, telling us all to behave.
Taking care of our own
To the Editor:
My name is Staff Sergeant Michael Blake, and I am from Oak Bluffs and a MVRHS grad of 1996. On Oct. 14, my brother, Specialist Daniel Blake of the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division was ambushed while conducting convoy operations in Afghanistan. My brother's vehicle was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, and he sustained some injuries. Currently, he is an inpatient at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, but he will be in outpatient status soon.
I wanted to say thank you to everyone on the Island for the support given to his wife, Ashley, and my mother. With my third tour to Iraq weeks away, it makes me feel good to know that Vineyarders take care of their own. Thank you.
Staff Sergeant Michael Blake
7th Squadron 10th U.S. Cavalry 4th Infantry Division
Fort Hood, Texas
To the Editor:
Don't you just love the English language? We have a new term in our midst these days, "sub-prime lending." Isn't this a great term, and we all think we know what it means. Just like the word "detailing." For the longest time it was a mystery word, one with great allure. People would say, "Oh, I'm having my car detailed." And many, like myself included, would say impishly, "Wow, that's great." But, we were thinking, what do they do that's so special for $125. Well, after a couple years of trying to not look stupid, the definition for "detailing" became apparent. It is, "cleaning the car," but obviously for the sake of professional detailers, it means cleaning the car really, really, really well. So, now when someone asks me what I'm doing and they catch me during some mundane household chore, I simply tell them, "I'm detailing my bathroom." Of course their usual response is something like, "That's exciting." You wonder if this trend will catch on and some day house cleaners will begin to call themselves, "house detailers."
So, let's not kid ourselves, the term "sub-prime lending" can be defined simply as, "The rich and greedy taking advantage of the poor and needy." But this certainly doesn't sound like anything new.
The only thing that's new about it is they (the R&G) found a way to completely max out on the dream of homeownership. Prospective buyers were told, "No money down," "100% financing," "Cash back at closing." What a great deal that was. If I could do that three times a week I could give up my day job.
They would tell the buyer, "Yes it's a variable rate, and it will only go up if the rates go up." But I guess they forgot to tell the buyer that the rates were the lowest they had been in decades. So how could the rates do anything else except go up?
But, to spice things up and add more confusion to the mix and for the buyer, they had even more great terms like, "no doc loans," "balloon mortgages," "interest only," etc. etc.
Isn't it also funny that while all these real estate transactions were happening with all these "sub-prime loans," our government was installing new laws to make it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. What a coincidence that was. I wonder what our leaders were thinking.
I saw firsthand the lending policy of a company I was affiliated with. We were told, "Money is never an issue: bring me a buyer, and I will get them the money. As long as he or she has been working at a job for two years they get the money. There are all sorts of creative financing packages available." Seemed okay to me and giving a four-year-old a loaded pistol might be fine, as well.
Oh and let's not forget that since cheap money was available, the seller and the brokers knew that they could get more money for the property, and prices skyrocketed, didn't they?
So the poor little unsuspecting and often fiscally uneducated "sheep with a dream" buyer was led right into a pack of wolves and hoped that he or she could make it out unscathed. Well, we'll see, won't we?
But don't we want to ask, "Who is responsible?" "Who created this mess in the first place?" "Who is accountable?" A further question might be, "Why isn't the federal government assigning an independent task force to dig into this matter?"
It almost sounds like something akin to the Enron fiasco, with one exception. The Enron scandal would amount to a pimple on a mosquito's ass compared to this mess.
Let's not forget one thing. Who's going to pay for all of this, us? How about the federal government? Oh, that's right, that's us, too. How about our children, or maybe their children?
There is talk that the Chinese may take on this fiduciary responsibility. It sounds fine by me, because I already know how to use chopsticks, and I love rice (brown rice), anyway.
So, the next time a real estate broker tells you that things are slow, just ask them, "Oh, I wonder how that happened."
But, please, when you speak with our neighbors and brothers, the real estate brokers, be compassionate because they too are only victims of a destructive process initiated by greed.
The time for questions has passed. It's time now to put your foot down and demand answers.
with a prize
To the Editor:
The jetty on the Lobsterville side of Menemsha Creek entrance is one of my favorite places to visit on a beautiful fall day, especially during the Derby. I experienced the true spirit of the Derby with my sixteen-year-old son Pete two weeks ago. He was home from school for the weekend and entered the Derby - just in case.
When he was only four, Pete weighed in an 8-ounce bluefish, and years later he won first prize with a winning fluke in the Derby's Kids Day. There were many other catches but none as memorable as these.
The last Friday in September, Pete informed me on the way to Menemsha that the albies were on the way out, but that he was going to try and catch one. I said, "Great, you only have a few days, so go for it."
Well, wouldn't you know that after fishing for a few hours, he started to see them jumping. It was the most gorgeous morning up there. Everyone from the Coast Guard to Dan Larsen and his boys were going in and out of the harbor.
Pete Fitzgerald, a Derby Island visitor, told Pete that everyone had been catching fish at an area off the Menemsha side jetty. Wouldn't you know, Pete hooked an albie. All his fishing skills came into play over the next 10 minutes, which felt like an hour. Right in the middle of the fight, a Coast Guard boat came in and I was sure my son would lose the fish.
That morning I realized that catching a fish is an art. Just the right touch of the rod is needed at the right time. After a nerve-wracking wait he pulled in the albie, and what a beautiful sight it was. As he held up the 10-pounder, all the fishermen who had been watching the battle gave Pete a thumbs up and one guy yelled, "Great job, kid."
Pete thought his fish might be large enough to win him a weekly prize, but he released it because, he said, the albie was just too beautiful to keep.
What a fun morning. I'll never forget it.
Not really thrifty
To the Editor:
I have lived on this Island for 46 years. I raised my daughter by myself and have done what I had to in order to get by. This has always meant a trip to the Thrift Shop. Back in the day that meant you could get a pair of shoes for a dollar or a shirt for 50 cents. I know that things have changed, but come on. I went to the MVCS Thrift Shop (the word Thrift being used very lightly), and I saw a few shirts that were marked $5. When I went to pay for the items I was told that one of the shirts had two tags, one for $5 and one for $20. I told the tall, short-haired lady with very little compassion that I was not going to spend $20 for a shirt that was the same name brand as the other two shirts for $5. She removed the shirt from the counter and rang up just the two that were $5 each.
Now, a little lesson to those who are in the retail business. If something is marked with two price tags, you must charge the least amount. I have talked to many people about the prices at this store. It is a place people donate items so that other people with a little less can have things they need at a lesser amount than what they would have to pay for it at a retail store.
A perfect example of this is this summer, when my boyfriend and I decided to donate about 60 or more pairs of shoes that we had left over from previous year's inventory from his shop. After weighing it out, we made the decision to give them to the Boys and Girls Second Hand Store, due to the fact we knew they would be sold at a reasonable price. I have gone to the Thrift Shop before and seen shoes selling for $40. That is more than Payless sells brand-new shoes. I and many other Islanders are tired of the overpriced items that are at the Thrift Shop. This is too bad, due to the fact that this money is going back to our community. Maybe we should all take a stand against the overpricing. Let's donate our items and shop at a store that stands behind its name, The Second Hand Store. After all, the money that store brings in also goes back in to our community, the children on the Island.
I hope that all of you that I have talked to will stand behind me and stop shopping and stop donating to this store until they are what they call themselves: a Thrift Shop.
Loss of trust
To the Editor:
I would like to address the person who stole my gray kayak from the Mink Meadows Beach. Your selfish act has led to the loss for me, my children, my grandchildren, my neighbors and their children, of the enjoyment we derived from a peaceful paddle on the pond and the ocean, learning to appreciate the water and the wildlife. But even more than this, you have destroyed the sense of community, trust, and respect that existed in sharing our beautiful spot, and that is a far greater loss. Now we must turn to locks, alarms, and distrust, and I find that very sad.