Prompt, orderly - thank you
To the Editor:
My family and I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the fire and emergency personal of Oak Bluffs. Their response and service to our home for a chimney fire on Jan 23 was very prompt, orderly and professional. It is reassuring to know that we have these dedicated people in our town to watch over us. Thanks again.
Quick action saved the bakery
To the Editor:
On Tuesday, late in the afternoon, Bob (Luther) Eldredge saw flames in front of our small building (Tropical Bakery) on Lagoon Pond Road. He jumped out of his car and ripped the planter off the building, when he realized it was more than the planter on fire.
His quick thinking took him next door to the Island Paint Store for a bucket. He then took the rain water out of the puddle in the road and quickly put the fire out. How many of us would even think to do that? He's a man whose quick thinking put out the fire and saved our building. We can't thank you enough.
We know how lucky we are that Mr. Eldredge is a man who cared enough to even stop, because a few more minutes and who knows how bad it would of been.
You know you're living in a great community when people go out of their way to help with something like this fire.
We'd like to also thank Carol and Bill at the paint shop for helping Bob by giving him the bucket.
To the person who threw their cigarette out into the air from a moving car, think twice before you do it again and use the ash tray instead. Apparently your cigarette didn't automatically go out, because it was raining.
Mr. Eldredge, you're a wonderful man. Thank you.
Thanks to the Jenkinsons
To the Editor:
I would like to give a very public thank you to the Jenkinson family of Up-Island Auto for once again offering a Sunday discount on gasoline.
With so much on their plate, it would have been understandable if the Sunday sale was put on a back burner. It wasn't, and I am most appreciative. May 2008 be as kind to them.
To the Editor:
At a time when bad news seems to blanket the papers, it is great to see our Island newspapers reporting the achievements of our youth and professionals. Unfortunately, you missed an achievement that I believe is worth noting. Vineyard Golf Course superintendent Jeff Carlson was recently awarded the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) board of directors 2008 President's Award for Environmental Stewardship.
At a time when being "green" is in, it is important to know that this achievement was based on a career's worth of work. Congratulations, Jeff, on your award, and thanks for continuing this pioneering work here in our own backyard.
Health Care Access program vital
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my support for the valuable services provided by the Health Care Access program. Last September, I was diagnosed with a chronic and progressive illness that is very expensive to treat. Two weeks ago, in an unrelated and totally unexpected development, I lost a full-time job that I loved. With it went my income, my health insurance, my pension and job security. For me, health insurance is not just a good idea or "prudent," it is critical. Friends who have been through their own battles with serious health problems immediately stepped in to reassure me that I could go to the Health Care Access office on New York Avenue and get help, and I found prompt, friendly, calm, and competent assistance in this scary situation. We all know that living on Martha's Vineyard is not easy for those of us in the lower income brackets. Services such as those provided by the Health Care Access program are pieces of the puzzle that make it possible to keep people living on this Island, making up the community we love and thrive in. We need to keep this program on the Vineyard.
To the Editor:
I am writing to tell the residents of Martha's Vineyard something you probably already know. You are warm and passionate people. Sure, it easy when people come to visit and spend money in your beautiful town, but how about when you leave your friendly confines? I met two of your finest residents at the Saddlebrook resort in Tampa. Although I never did make out there names, I did find them to be very nice and as warm as the weather. Maybe it was because they were tennis players?
You know the Boston area surely gets its press in the world of team sports, and we have shipped you a few of our stars from Minnesota. My impression of Martha's Vineyard was always that its people may not be the most receptive to outsiders, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The gals were as interested in my golf trophy as they were about telling me about the benefits of Martha's Vineyard. After this encounter, I will put this on my list of places to visit sometime soon. I actually think our next sales meeting will be in the Boston area, in the spring though, and a trip to the Island will be in store. Maybe even make a weekend of it? Your people make the place what it is. I only wish I would have made out their names. Could always use a place to stay.
Apple Valley, Minn.
To the Editor:
The Island has lost another wonderful treasure.
Peter Williamson, the former chief of police in Oak Bluffs who passed away Jan. 23, left a legacy that goes way beyond his contributions and service to people on the Island.
Forty years ago, I became a part-time police officer on the Oak Bluffs Police force, working for Peter. I was the first of a line of summer police officers who either graduated from the same school, St. Michael's College in Vermont, or were friends of ours who went on to become members of the force for varying periods of time.
For most of us, Peter was our first boss after college and many of us stayed on for multiple summers. Some, like John McCarthy, the former chief of police in Vineyard Haven, became full-time officers. A number of his legion of former officers from off-Island ended up buying homes and staying on the Island either full-time like clerk of courts Joe Sollitto, or seasonally like me.
As word spread among the Williamson alumni, I could not help but remark at how we all seemed to be so unified in our high regard for and indebtedness to Peter, because of the positive influence he had on our lives since the very first day we met him. Every one of the dozen or so friends of mine who worked for him expressed such pride that he picked us and that we were listed among his tens of hundreds of friends.
Among us are successful lawyers, ministers, business people, military officers, government employees and teachers, all of whom credited Peter - in some measure - for their success and stayed in touch with him over the years.
Peter's gift of common sense, his political, teaching and leadership skills, along with his sense of humor, set an example for all who worked for and with him.
His compassion for the people he served and protected extended to all of us and made us see the good that could come from respecting those we dealt with, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. To steal from the author, Tom Wolfe, Peter was a "Man in full."
The chief extended his good example as a good husband, father, friend and boss and will be missed by more people than you can imagine. It was an honor to have known him.
John C. Verret
To the Editor:
Peter Williamson: a man, I dare say, most everyone knew here on the Island, and certainly a man who was well respected and adored.
I am not some old friend with lots of stories to tell. I am but a young man who remembers a wonderful family man who was able to successfully protect, guide and teach other members of this community a better way to lead their own lives by his example.
Chief Williamson was always very gracious, every time I saw him or spoke with him. I will miss greeting him at the post office, as I often did.
As I write this and wipe the tears from my cheek, I can honestly say that he will always be loved and never, ever be forgotten.
I'm voting for Obama
To the Editor:
As a teacher of history, I studied many presidencies. Therefore, when I first saw the slate of candidates for the Democratic Party, I was hesitant viewing them through my historical lens. The leading candidates seemed to lack that traditional definition of experience, that seasoned definition of long years of elected public service, extensive foreign policy experience, established voting records. The only Democrats who actually fulfilled those traditional requirements were Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden, and the voters quickly dismissed them. So, I had to sit back and rethink this primary, this election, but more importantly, to put on a new lens. Perhaps there was something different happening and maybe it could be even better.
And so, I began to read everything that I could find on Sen. Barack Obama. He caught my interest. I knew he was bright, had worked as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago, had been in the state legislature and currently is a US Senator. Those qualifications give me a different kind of experience, but crucial for the people and policy work that needs to be done, but more so, needs to be organized and led.
Then, I looked at his personal background. He truly brings an international identity and experience to the table not only in his own multi-racial life but also in his studies at university. He seems to be a people person, very friendly, engaging and a listener. Not bad traits when you have to work in both the international and national community. He definitely knows how to organize people and in particular, the young voter. He has a keen wit, so perhaps we'll have more of those JFK-like news conferences.
I read the Audacity of Hope, his second book, and am reading his autobiography in my book club. I volunteered to canvas for him in N.H. since I am teaching at a university up there four days a week. When I reported to canvas door to door, I saw a number of young college age men and women organizing for the senator. When I asked them questions they knew what he stood for, what his platform is and could articulate his ideas/ policies clearly. They knew his positions on health care, education, taxes, the economy and the war and pointed me to papers, memos, etc. that further explained them. But, more importantly, they were passionate; their enthusiasm for the political change was exciting and solid.
I am so impressed by the grassroots organizing. They reminded me of myself over 40 years ago, so excited about JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Wasn't JFK even younger than Senator Obama, and he, too, offered the country something new and different along with his youth and wit. I remember going door to door registering voters in Roxbury. There was a tenor in the country that empowered us as young people to get out there and get the votes, get involved, and make a difference. Many of us, of my generation, are still doing that. It was a participatory time and when JFK gave a news conference, we all gathered around as my parents had done during FDR's Fireside chats.
Senator Obama is an articulate, bright, intelligent and exciting leader. I now see how his myriad experiences, both personal and professional, truly prepare him for the job of the president today. He is a statesman. He is a thinker and appreciates history. He knows people and will work building those most necessary coalitions. His roots are part of him. What refreshing traits in this day and age.
He reflects on history and wants to write the next chapter as president of the United States. There has not been this kind of energy, excitement and interest in years. Look at the voter turnout. It is fantastic. People feel empowered that we can make a change in the course of our current history.
Many young people have joined the Obama campaign. Now, it is time for my generation to join them in setting the course for the next eight years.
Our freedom at stake
To the Editor:
I've recently been the recipient of one of those fantastical e-mail chain letters being broadly circulated these days, entitled: "Who Is Barack Obama?" Full of mistruths, it anonymously warns us about Obama's "secret allegiance" to "radical Muslim" belief, and while attacking Barack's Christian faith and deep patriotism, the e-mail assures us that its assertions are all supposedly "verified" by the rumor site snopes.com. (Untrue: a check on that web site refutes the whole slimy e-mail.)
John McCain, a Vietnam POW who served heroically, is being labeled, in anonymous phone calls and e-mails, a traitor, collaborator, and against free speech.
We have a description for this kind of behavior that was coined when another courageous Vietnam vet, John Kerry, suffered a similar kind of orchestrated personal attack during his run for President. It's called "Swiftboating."
Dirty politics are not a new phenomenon. Been around forever. But, for the past 25 or so years, it has been, in some circles, the thing to do. (Karl Rove has been a master of dirty tricks.) The belief is, if you sling enough lies at an opponent, no matter how far-fetched, they begin to stick, and any denial just makes the recipient look guilty. And the Internet makes the dirty trickster's job a breeze.
When this kind of behavior becomes so common that it is dismissed as just politics, when winning is more important than integrity, and the manipulations that ensue continue unchecked, it swiftly wears away at the fabric of our democracy. The dirty tricks don't stop at name-calling, they become bolder and more menacing. When eager beavers are properly motivated and are secure in their secrecy, it's okay to get your guy in by denying certain folks voter access, by creating misleading ballots, by jamming phone lines, and by manipulating the vote tally.
Now that we have all those fancy Diebold machines all over the place that have no paper trail, it has become a relatively easy job to fix an election. These voting machines have been tested by experts and have been shown to be easily and untraceably vulnerable to attack. There's a lot riding on a national election, and a lot of pressure to get results. Now that manipulating our vote can be done on a national scale, how difficult will it be to quietly fix the results? And fix them big, so that we won't have to revisit the 2000 election when the Supreme Court decided a presidential outcome. Really, how will we trust that our vote will be counted?
That is why I took the time to reply to that e-mail, and to all its listed previous senders, with evidence refuting its crazy assertions. For those of you who've also received the Obama diatribe, actually check out snopes.com, which the e-mail cynically says it quotes as verifying its assertions, but which actually clearly refutes it point by point. It seems that those orchestrating this smear campaign expect that many folks are lazy or so eager to believe the slime that they won't bother to check.
That's why it is important to thoroughly check out information before you pass it on. That's why it's imperative to write your representatives and urge everyone else to write and speak out to demand that all machines have a proper paper ballot back-up. Democracy flies out the window when we do nothing. And nothing less than our freedom is at stake.
To the Editor:
When I plunked down $1,000 to hear Barack Obama speak at a fundraiser at a grand house between Eastville and East Chop last August, I couldn't afford it, by any normal standard, but I had an inkling that I might be onto something truly unusual, something immeasurable by any normal standard. Wishful thinking? Perhaps.
I've been involved, off and on, in presidential politics since 1968. The only winners I've backed - Carter, Clinton - were solid choices to my way of thinking, but never inspirational.
In the sixties, when many of us came of age politically, we were all innocence and optimism. And then, our heroes - JFK, RFK, and MLK - were shot. There went the innocence - bang, bang, bang - and our optimism was compromised, to say the least, No wonder some of us became cautious, even skeptical, while others dropped out altogether.
But now there's a movement afoot that has awakened the kind of excitement that I haven't felt for decades. Barack Obama's message of hope and change is gaining traction by the hour. It's backed up by specific positions on the most important issues facing the country, but it's his embrace of the future, his appeal to our idealism, and his conviction that we can make a difference if we work together that attracts new converts, and endorsements, by the day. Last night, as we watched a rerun of his victory speech in South Carolina, my wife said she was getting goose bumps, and my daughter was visibly excited - a true measure of the truth of his message.
When kids get engaged, anything is possible. I think they respond to Obama because he is inviting them to be part of the solution, part of the future, instead of promising all sorts of this and that, and basically boring them stupid. He comes across as the real deal, someone they can trust and someone they want to believe in - no small feat when you consider how critical they can be.
Still, we're told that Obama doesn't have enough experience. Yes there's value in experience, but it's often used as a cover for stale thinking, a dam against fresh ideas.
We've been told too often to be patient, that we'll address such-and-such problem after a focus group is convened, which will appoint a commission, which could lead to a congressional hearing, which could lead to an official statement. By that time, everyone knows it's too late, the urgency has gone, and we're left with flat, flabby "solutions" that everyone knows won't amount to much.
The pragmatists, never mind the negativists, among us remind us that ideals are nice, and all that, but it's a complicated world out there, and good intentions aren't going to get the job done, and blah, blah, blah. The pundits, as Obama mentions in his regular stump speech, say he's too young, too naive.
But I say, when you encourage people to dream their dreams out loud, to mix their conviction and enthusiasm with their idealism, the sky's the limit. This is the kind of thinking that Barack Obama has inspired in me, and it feels great.
So when I had the chance to shake his hand as he left the party at East Chop, I told him, "Pundits, schmundits - keep it happening." He smiled and said, "We'll keep her going."
I think Barack Obama gives us the best chance to move past the divisiveness that has undermined this country for far too long. His vision and his steadfast refusal to change his tune from day to day and issue to issue give me great hope that there is another way, founded on honesty and constancy and respect for each other, to move forward together, and I want to be part of it.
Whit Griswold is The Times copy editor and proofreader.
In support of Cape Wind
To the Editor:
I would like to reply to the letter last week from Daniel Benefieta, arguing against the Cape Wind proposal. The first objection he stated in his letter was that the proposed farm is right in the middle of an oil tanker shipping lane, and that the obstruction will no doubt cause oil tanker accidents and oil spills. Well, if there were oil tankers going through Nantucket Sound, wouldn't we have noticed by now? Wouldn't there be a hue and cry about this by now? Especially going over the shallow waters of Horseshoe Shoals.
The second objection is that the construction of the wind farm will tear up the ocean floor and it would never recover, wiping out the fishing and shellfishing industry. No one denies that the construction will temporarily disrupt the seafloor. But the wonderful thing about bottom-dwelling organisms, including clams, oysters, and scallops, is that their young are free swimming, part of the plankton. Once the construction is finished, not only will the seafloor repopulate, but the new concrete and pipes of the wind farm will be additional support for marine life. The wind farm will become a series of reefs where more sea life will live than before. Managed properly, the wind farm will be a boon for the shellfishing industry.
These reasons are precisely why the wind farm project is sailing through the government regulatory hearings. Our government is here to help protect our resources, but they stay out of the way when no real threat exists.
I'll be so happy to see the wind farm off on the horizon when it is completed. I will be able to look at it and think: there is where my electricity is being generated, instead of a coal or oil burning power plant. We'll all be able to breathe freely about that.
To the Editor:
As many of you already know, on Friday, Jan. 11, a fundraising dinner with dance was held at the Portuguese-American club in Oak Bluffs for the incorporated nonprofit charitable organization known as You've Got A Friend. The fundraiser was an effort to offset the ever-increasing overhead for tax filing fees and their related expenses. It was a successful event not only in raising the capital needed for our beneficiaries to receive 100 percent of the monies raised for them, who are victims of catastrophic events in their lives, but it was also extremely successful in raising the awareness of our organization to the Island community.
Much of the success of the evening was due to our many supporters. I would like especially to thank at this time Pat Waring of the Martha's Vineyard Times for her informative article; the PA Club for its guidance and use of its facility; and in particular, PA Club board member Sue Madeiros, and Barbara and Paul Humber and Lainy Bonito who cooked the dinner. I would also like to thank Caroline Flanders for her tireless efforts and dedicated support; Greg and Laura at WMVY; and a very special thank you to Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, without whom the entertainment would not have been possible.
We are also most grateful to those who learned of our campaign effort and came out to support it, or simply made a charitable donation to support it without physically attending the event.
On behalf of the board of YGAF, thank you all.
An energetic neighbor
To the Editor:
As a friend and admirer of the late Nan Rheault, I was pleased to read of the continuation of the Girls Ice Hockey Tournament she initiated (Jan. 24, Martha's Vineyard Times).
Whether she made provisions for its continuation, or her family has kept it going, it is a fitting tribute to an energetic Vineyarder, who herself took up ice skating as an adult. We would all do well to try to emulate her contributions to the Vineyard during her lifetime.
Leigh B. Smith
To the Editor:
Many of my colleagues at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School support the appointment of Stephen Nixon, the only Island candidate, as the next principal of the high school.
for 77 faculty and staff members at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School