Tisbury officials hurt, rather than help, the town
To the Editor:
As I was putting my groceries away in my car last week in the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop parking lot, a man jumped out of his SUV. "I'll take your cart back if you'll let me have your parking space," he said. Unbelievably, here in our famous, quaint little town, a man was bartering his labor for a precious parking lot area. At this same site, at different times, cars unsafely park in the lanes waiting for a space or drive round and round, getting more and more annoyed, so they might buy the necessities of life. How did we go from a fairly efficient herring-bone pattern of parking to one with 10 less spaces and right-angle parking? Who called upon the selectmen to make this change in the first place? Who's to blame? Selectmen and town officials or the group of engineering experts they hired? Who paid whom for what to make this mess?
We had some excellent candidates running last election for Tisbury selectmen. Next time we vote, let us recall that "incumbent" and "Old Boys' club" choices may not be the right answer for a town that needs help on many fronts, including filling empty stores on Main Street and making Beach Road look respectable. We need more than two hours to shop in the summer, without being fined if shops and restaurants are to prosper. We need thoughtful, painstaking, clear-headed actions from people with foresight. An inefficient, dangerous parking lot is the legacy from present town officials. A town election should not be run as a popularity contest. The ballot box should produce a town government that knows how to improve Vineyard Haven, not hurt it.
Roberta B. Mendlovitz
Misstating the danger of coyotes
To the Editor:
I read with amazement the quote in today's Martha's Vineyard Times article, "So many questions for animal control," "There have been only three reported cases of coyotes biting humans in the United States."
What? Seemed very hard to believe. I was living in Los Angeles when a baby left outside a house on Beverly Glen Road was killed by a coyote. A quick web search finds a paper published by the University of California in 1998, "Management of Conflicts Between Urban Coyotes and Humans in Southern California" (http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=anrrec/hrec).
That paper reports over 30 verified attacks in just Southern California in the 10 years between 1988 and 1998, including the horrific attack on a child shown at (http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/awm/docs/coyoteattacks.pdf ).
Okay, so coyotes are not as dangerous as, say, tigers, but they are dangerous. The Martha's Vineyard Times does not serve its readers well when you uncritically publish misstatements about public health and safety issues, as you did in today's article.
Editor's Note: Mr. Jones is right to question the number of coyote attacks on humans in the United States. There have been three reported cases in Massachusetts.
Don't like it, leave
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to Jeffrey Leistyna's biased, and obvious "typical racist rant" in his letter to the editor on Dec. 13. Boy, his perfect world needs a lot of fixing up, doesn't it? OK, so let me see if I got all of this straight.
Mr. Leistyna was clearly unhappy with 1) "our so-called federal government," 2) "South America, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean," 3) That "15 Brazilians share a small house," 4) The "Brazilian woman working at the post office," 5) "Thousands of mostly undocumented, non-English speaking immigrants," 6) "super wealthy New Yorkers and other moneyed elites," 7) "Fox television."
Not much was left off his bull's-eye. Yikes.
When I first came to Martha's Vineyard some 30-plus years ago, there were lots of Portuguese immigrants here. I really didn't think anything of it. I worked alongside with them, broke bread with them, celebrated with them, heck, I even dated a few of them. Yep, they were different from me. Yep, they seemed to be everywhere in town. But it wasn't at all a bad thing, that's Martha's Vineyard. We are all just ingredients in a big tossed salad, everyone separately providing a different flavor to the mix. You may not like one ingredient as much as another ingredient, but when it all comes together, it's really quite a treat.
Jeff, I'm sorry that you cannot seem to find a job on the Island. It isn't just an Island thing; it's a tough economy for everyone these days. So, given that, did you ever stop to think, even for a second, that maybe it's your own attitude that needs realignment? Maybe those people you come in contact with day to day find your positions offensive? Maybe you make some people feel uncomfortable? Can't really see that an attitude like yours would make you a good fit in a customer service role of any type.
You place all of the blame for the "clogged emergency rooms, over-crowding, tax issues, crime, or illegal driving" on the very backs of those people above, who are getting up and going to work every day. You take no blame personally, however. I think that instead of suggesting that we all take out the croutons or olives from our tossed salad, that maybe you should take a hard look at yourself in the mirror?
Still, if at the end of the day you find that what reflects back at you is still perfect, and that everyone else is screwing up your little utopia, then there is a solution for you. Leave I mean, clearly you don't like what the Island has become today, clearly you don't like the large diversity of the people that make up the Island, and you seem to have run out of opportunity, right? So, since you are not obligated to remain on this less than perfect Island, who's keeping you here, big guy?
San Diego, California
One word ...
To the Editor:
Dear George, Happy Holidays. I would like to thank you for giving Christmas back to the estimated five million Americans who are potentially facing bankruptcy this year. Obviously I don't know all the terms of your proposal, but putting a freeze on interest rates can certainly buy some time.
However, I don't know if this action addresses the fundamentals. The price of home heating oil, the price of gasoline, the price of food and the price of all commodities, which has given rise to, as we have seen, staggering and, numbing, inflation numbers last month.
But let us look at the past. "More Americans own their own homes now, than ever before." Do you remember saying these words during your midterm election campaign, George? I do, I remember you saying them.
That is a provocative statement. Because it appears that you wanted Americans to believe that you were responsible for that significant statistic. Do you still want to take responsibility for that housing boom? And conversely take the responsibility for the real estate bust?
Well, George, let's not get bogged down too much during this Holiday Season, as to who is responsible for the housing shortcomings. In fact, I'd like to give you a Christmas gift.
Computers, cell phones, Internet, all have one thing in common. Each of those products represents a $1 trillion industry. So the real question is, "What is name of the next trillion dollar industry?" Well that is what I would like to give you for Christmas this year.
Stealing a line from the old movie, "The Graduate," when Benjamin's uncle pulled him aside and said, "one-word Benjamin. Plastics," had we all invested a few dollars then in that industry then we all could retire. Well, George, that one word today is, "Robotics." Like it or not, they are the future.
Not just a robot that vacuum's the rug, but everything from computer-generated software engineers to robotic manufacturing, the two words that the Chinese may fear the most. Because what if you have robots that are doing all the manufacturing and what do you do with 1.5 billion people. Of course, that brings us to a good point, what will we do with all of our people, when robots take over labor-intensive tasks? Well George, I will let you figure that one out.
In the meantime, give our children, our young brilliant minds, inspiration to go out and design, to let their imaginations soar and to let their creativity flourish. Give them hope that they might be the solution to some of our perplexing problems now and in the future.
One word, George, robotics. Happy Holidays.
Urges support to pay increase
To the Editor:
Martha's Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) is the largest human service provider on the Island, with roots established in 1961, when a community mental health center was formed to serve the Island population. Today, we employ more than 120 full- and part-time employees and serve approximately 6,000 residents and visitors each year through our Early Childhood Programs, Island Counseling and Disability Services, the Visiting Nurse Service, and Women's Support Services.
Martha's Vineyard Community Services receives more than 40 percent of its revenue from the state of Massachusetts as a sub-contractor providing needed health and human services to Island residents. Our employees are part of what is called the human services industry, doing hard and important work, caring for our children, the sick, the elderly, and disabled residents.
Rarely are human service workers mentioned as an economic force. But a new report released by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services shows that is exactly the case. The human services industry makes up three percent of the state's entire workforce, mirroring the size of the telecommunications industry, and provides more than $100 million in tax revenue to the state and its cities and towns.
"Given the vital role that this industry and its work force play, both as an economic contributor to the Commonwealth and as a partner in delivering care to vulnerable citizens," the report reads, "it is in the Commonwealth's interest to ensure that the industry's work force is paid a fair living wage."
Service workers' pay has fallen victim to state budget crises for years, resulting in high turnover and recruitment difficulties. Under the current system, providers must "bid to a state agency's pre-set contract prices that are based solely on budgetary considerations and bear no relation to the cost or value of the services purchased," according to a fact sheet issued by The Collaborative, a coalition of human service providers. Payment rates for the service providers the state contracts with to manage the programs haven't gone up in 20 years.
The state legislature is now considering a bill (S 65), sponsored by Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham), that would establish a rate-setting mechanism that would establish a reasonable wage for service workers and provide some predictability for workers and the agencies that employ them.
This is why we support passage of legislation that would, for the first time since 1987, change the rates that are paid to providers. The bill also would establish an advisory council that would help ensure that rates remain at a fair level.
But like most significant legislation, the bill must also be approved by the Ways and Means committees, which are controlled by the House Speaker and Senate president. Even the best bills often don't clear that hurdle.
This bill deserves the blessing of Speaker Sal DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray. Gov. Deval Patrick has already indicated his support for reasonable rate reform.
The most vulnerable members of our extended families depend on the caring hands of human services workers. Those workers ought to be able to depend on a decent paycheck.
We cannot outsource these jobs. Nor can we use technology to replace the skill and care these workers bring to their profession. This legislation should become law not because it is their turn. It should become law because the state needs these workers as much as the workers need the state.
Please contact our representatives: Senator Robert O'Leary (Robert.O'Leary@State.MA.US or 617-722-1570) and Rep. Eric Turkington (Rep.EricTurkington@Hou.State.MA.US or 617-722-2015), as well as Speaker Sal DiMasi (Rep.SalvatoreDiMasi@Hou.State.MA.US or 617-722-2500) and Senate President Therese Murray (Therese.Murray@State.MA.US or 617-722-1500) to urge them to support S 65.
Martha's Vineyard Community Services
On the radio
To the Editor:
The new community radio station WVVY is now broadcasting on FM 93.7- thanks to helpers too numerous to list here exhaustively, volunteers who aided us in many ways since the process of starting a radio station started eight years ago. In our most urgent hour of need, several people came as if called to get our transmitting equipment purchased and installed. Craig Hockmeyer donated the money needed for our transmitter. The pole for our antenna was brought to the Island at no charge by Ralph Packer. Fred Lapiana and the Department of Public Works, the Tisbury Selectman and Andrew Nanaa of fiber-optic company GPCS worked expeditiously together to allow our pole to be set at the DPW in Tisbury, a nice win-win scenario in which the town also gains better communication with its own antenna there as well. Jim Medlock provided much-needed advice. When the pole arrived, the NStar crew helped set it. A Fire Dept. ladder truck helped our techs install the antenna. Andy Gunn of the Prometheus Radio Project guided us through the equipment purchase process and came on short notice to the Island to install our station and to aid us in putting a station together on a shoestring. Vinnie Padalino hopped in his truck and drove to Buffalo to pick up equipment that would have otherwise been delivered late. Jim Glavin sacrificed many otherwise billable hours to make sure everything was where it was needed when it was needed. New volunteers with needed expertise have been coming forward as we need them. The proposals for radio shows are flowing in. Once again, the Island has demonstrated what "community" means: teamwork.
I am so deeply grateful to the volunteers who dedicated so much of their time to this effort over the long haul: Bill Morancy, Wayne Tackabury, Nick Azzollini, Nicole Hawkes, Bob Lee, Diana Reilly, Eric Hawkes, Jason Danielson, Nina Gordon, Sally Barkan, Marta Camargo, Roland Jahn, Trip Barnes, and many others. There have also been many musicians who have played benefits for us and donated songs to our compilation CD, such as Willy Mason, Nina Violet, Colin Ruel, Rob Meyers, Ballyhoo, Maynard Silva, Unbusted, Billionaires and many others.
Now we have a radio station. It will take some time for us to work out some of the technical kinks. Our broadcast also relies on computers that sometimes crash, causing occasional radio silence. We hope you will bear with us through these teething troubles. If we're down, check back later. As our resources increase, our equipment and stability will improve. We will be adding programming as we go and look forward to developing a crack news and public affairs team. Those who are interested in having a radio show can leave a message at the station: 508-693-9379. To volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to entertaining and elucidating you. As our schedule firms up, we will post it on our web site at www.wvvy.org (where streaming audio is also available). We play the award-winning non-mainstream news program Democracy Now! every weekday at 5 pm. Check Local Lunch every mid-day for Vineyard musicians of today and yesteryear. We promise that WVVY will be like no other station you have ever heard. We look forward to playing music and news and theater and comedy and strange noises for you for many, many years to come.
WVVY station manager
To the Editor:
I am distressed by the xenophobia expressed in two recent letters to the editor of your newspaper and would like to present a different point of view.
I do not support the us-versus-them division of our community that your letter writers have presented. There is no us and there is no them on Martha's Vineyard, or anywhere in this country.
Once a person moves to a city or town in the United States and buys a house, or starts renting, puts their kids in school, buys groceries, and works in that city or town, he or she becomes a community member and a neighbor.
To all the wonderful newcomers that have chosen to call Martha's Vineyard home in recent years, I say welcome. I enjoy the fresh perspectives you bring, as well as the new businesses. I love to hear new languages, and to get to know your life stories. To my neighbors and friends that are working hard in the service industries that support the Island economy, I say thank you. To the entrepreneurs that have started their own businesses on Martha's Vineyard, I say congratulations. Free enterprise is one of the founding features of this country and its economy. To those among us that have traveled the farthest to be here, from places such as Nepal, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Ecuador, I say how brave and determined you must be. To leave all that is familiar to you to in order to make a better life for yourself and your family must be a torturous decision to make.
The previous letter writers do not speak for me. Nor, I suspect, do they speak for the many, many others that live here harmoniously among neighbors, regardless of their time on the Island or their place of birth. Once again, I say to my new neighbors: You are welcome here. If I can be of any help to you as you are getting situated on Martha's Vineyard, please let me know. I'm in the local phone book.
Thanks to you all
To the Editor:
This is the time of year associated with miracles and kindness to strangers, and the Irish history and culture class at the Regional High School, for which I am the advisor, has been the lucky recipient of incredible generosity. It does indeed take a whole village to raise a child, and this Vineyard Village turned out in style to make it possible for young people with no money, but a whole lot of heart to go to Ireland in April, 2008.
We wish to publicly acknowledge the unforgettable acts of kindness from all of these people listed in this letter. How lucky we are to live in a community that takes care of its children.
Caroline Taylor Properties, Jim's Package Store, Bernier's Markets, daRosa's, R. M. Packer, Vineyard Harbor Condo Trust, Remax on Island, Sollitto Associates, Vineyard Bottled Waters, Martha's Vineyard Buyer Agents, Martha's Vineyard Seafood Group, Vineyard Electronics, Eileen T. Reilly, Mailroom at Edgartown, William Mueller, Jr., Ledden Properties, Vineyard Pool and Spa, Schofield, Barbini and Hoehn, Stripah Guide Service, Electronic Security Systems, Andrew Flake, Martha's Vineyard Construction Company, P.J.'s Cafe, Jane Brown Associates, Dr. R. W. Hermann and the Island Water Source.
Thanks to all of you, we have our own miracle right here on Edgartown-Vineyard Road. We don't need 34th Street. Your kindness has made a dream come true.
We wish you all a very happy and safe holiday and an Irish blessing:
"May the wind be always at your back, the rain fall gently on your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."
Elaine Cawley Weintraub
Those who need help are helped
To the Editor:
This is in response to the article "Tisbury tax shift" in last week's Times.
First, the article doesn't clarify how the existing residential exemption is particularly beneficial to the owners of the least expensive homes. The first $163,400 of valuation of any residence is exempt from the $5.20/$1,000 tax. For example, a full-time resident in a home valued at $408,500 is taxed as if the home were $245,100, paying tax of $1,274. The owner of a home assessed at twice that value, $817,000 (the Tisbury average), is taxed as if the home were $653,600, paying tax of $3,398. Both residents save $849 but the owner of the lower-valued home has reduced their tax bill by 40 percent, while that of the higher-valued home is only 20 percent less. In other words, this tax reduction is considerably more significant for the residents in less expensive homes.
Second, the article mentions five prominent Tisbury business owners. Public records (the Island phone book and The Times' "Vineyard Property Values for Fiscal Year 2007") enable one to research their particular situations vis-à-vis island residence values.
Assessment Tax Bill
Philip & Deborah Hale, 174 Mayflower Lane, VH $901,000 $3,835
Patrick Gregory Red Farm Road, WT $1,052,300 $4,609
Stephen Bernier Hammett Road, CH $2,374,600 $4,440
Sherman & Susan Goldstein 9 Capawock Road, WT $1,526,200 $6,684
Peter Cronig Main Street, VH $1,870,400 $8,876
On average, their residences are valued at $1,544,900 and their annual residential tax bill averages $5,689. Two live in Tisbury/VH and would pay additional residential property taxes if the tax codes change. The other three are not affected in this respect. All five, of course, are seeking additional income by reducing their business expenses. It seems to me that their businesses are already enabling them to live an above average lifestyle, and I do not see a compelling reason for imposing significant new taxes on the many lower income residents of Tisbury.
For the record, my home is assessed at $459,000, I live on a fixed income, and I would be seriously burdened by this proposed change.
Edward F. Wessel
Valuable county assets have income potential
To the Editor:
I read your editorial in the Dec. 6 issue of the Martha's Vineyard Times and agree with your premise that Dukes County has considerable assets, particularly the airport property, that is owned by property owners of Martha's Vineyard by virtue of a deed passed in the late 1950s. This deed's "restriction" only requires that the property be used as an airport, and the county leasing the property to an airport commission or for that matter a "fixed base operator" would be completely consistent with the conditions of the deed. In fact, it could be argued that for the county to not lease the airport property would be a violation of their fiduciary responsibility. As to your second point that the county could provide useful services, I have recommended a "cooperative" form of county governance where each town is represented as stakeholders and owners of an Island-wide government.
I would argue that leasing the airport property is completely consistent with "operating" an airport and further that revenues generated by the Martha's Vineyard Airport should be comparable to Barnstable, Block Island, Nantucket and New Bedford airports. There may also be some adjustments in the leasing arrangements associated with the Airport Industrial Park that warrant consideration as part of a broader review of leasing county property. There are also suggestions in my earlier memorandum that non-taxable property held by various non-profits and conservation groups be considered for revenue generation by the Island towns through display and sale of native species on conservation lands and a leasing of water and waterfront rights surrounding the Island towns as additional revenue sources. Also included in my earlier memorandum are thoughts on increasing Island "multiplier effect" and "ownership re-investment" that could increase Martha's Vineyard enterprise revenues and employment to the benefit of both public and private sectors of economy.
In an earlier memorandum furnished to you by Jeff Kristal on my behalf, I offered a series of recommendations aimed at how a cooperative could work as a public-private partnership. You should feel free to use any of the arguments in my correspondence with which you are in accord to buttress why the Island needs a system of governance that has political, technical, and economical balance beyond simply being a political subdivision. You might even argue that the constitution of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which gives the taxing franchise to the towns and not to a regional government, reflects John Adams's cooperative thinking as a farmer.
An assault on natural beauty
To the Editor:
I don't know what you think about Cape Wind, but I am disturbed with the private use of pristine, public expanse. I think the wind turbines are actually stunning visually, but there is such an assault on natural beauty these days, that I cannot applaud this project in our waters. As far as I know, they aren't making any more beautiful places like ours.