To the Editor:
We should all be proud that our national legislators have no more pressing matters to attend to than investigating the accusations of steroid use against Roger Clemens by the DNA hoarding nitwit, Brian McNamee.
I have some advice for the Oversight Committee. It's really quite simple. Just waterboard the both of them and see who comes clean.
To the Editor:
I was saddened to hear of the death of "Bobby" Flanders this past Sunday. For those of us fortunate enough to have known Bob, we have been blessed with a gift far beyond the comprehension of those who didn't know him. I am the proud father of three children, all under the age of six. The one thing I have learned about kids is that they tell it like it is. There is no gray area with children, just black and white. They like you or they don't, and they aren't afraid to say so.
Three Halloweens ago on the night before trick or treating, my oldest son who was two at the time, seemed unusually sad. When I asked what was wrong, he said, "I don't want to be a bat on Halloween." Naturally the next question I asked was, "Well what do you want to be, then?" His answer, "Bobby Flanders."
As I worked in the basement well into the night reconstructing Bobby's trademark green boat, quahog rake, and fisherman's garb, it occurred to me that in an age where superheroes are glorified beyond compare, and children can be any one of them for Halloween, there was a reason my son chose "Bobby Flanders." For those of you who knew Bobby, you know why he was my son's superhero. For those of you who didn't know Bobby, I'm sorry.
Impacts of the wind farm
To the Editor:
I came to Martha's Vineyard for a summer job over 10 years ago and never left. The natural beauty and sense of community have held me here. The Island is certainly a place that deserves our thoughtful protection. What distinguishes an admirable effort toward local preservation from a "Not In My Back Yard" attitude are the benefits of preservation on one hand and on the other, the implication that some other neighborhood should bear the costs we are unwilling to. The Cape Wind project would alter our seascape for decades, so let us carefully consider what else the wind farm can do.
Cape Cod has the worst air quality in Massachusetts, with the Islands slightly better. This translates to high asthma rates, mercury in our fish, and additional strain on ponds and estuaries, and their shellfish beds.... State regulators have said that Cape Wind would directly reduce production at local power plants with much higher pollution outputs like the Canal Power Plant. Ian Bowles, Secretary of the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs states that Cape Wind's production would be the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off Cape and Islands roads each year. This would also lead to over a thousand tons per year reduction of pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and a reduction of over 770,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
We now know that Global Climate Change is inevitable.
Scientists assure us that much disaster can be averted if we quickly undertake ambitious plans to change the way we consume fossil fuels. Our community has the unique opportunity to take a huge step towards that goal. In fact we have a responsibility.
The wind farm would provide the equivalent of three quarters of all the electricity used on the Cape and Islands, without burning fossil fuels. This alone will not change the global climate, but each community must do its part. Having the first large offshore wind farm in America will greatly ease the way for other cities and towns to make their own necessary changes.
Two extensive federal reviews of Cape Wind have indicated that harm to the local environment would be negligible and short-term, aside from changes to the view. On the other hand the environmental impact of not building Cape Wind would be far worse.
Imagine, we can lead the way fighting climate change, reduce local air and water pollution and increase our available energy, and all independently of stripmined coal or dwindling foreign oil supplies and the geopolitical dangers they entail. The proposed array of windmills will actually embody preservation more than an unspoiled view.
If looking at windmills leaves us painfully aware that power costs more than money, perhaps that will help us. I for one will look out and see the grace of a community embracing solutions and hope for our future.
Support the performing arts
To the Editor:
There appears to be a misconception in the community about the outcome of efforts to prevent cuts in the performing arts department at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). I am writing to offer some clarification and to ask for your help.
The current budget for the 2008-9 year cuts one half of a full-time music instructor position from the three we currently have. Two fifths of our one full-time drama instructor position were initially cut, then restored by giving this position responsibilities that used to be part of a full-time Performing Arts Center (PAC) manager position, which is being correspondingly reduced.
Most importantly, the performing arts department curriculum has been significantly cut - seven out of 22 courses listed in the 2007-8 course catalog, including both music and theatre courses (some aimed at preparing students for college level education in the performing arts) are no longer listed in the 2008-9 catalog. The faculty cuts will also inevitably result in some impact on the extensive after-school activities currently offered by the performing arts department faculty.
Education in the performing arts is not only important to those students who may choose to pursue them at the college and career level (and we have many who do). Studies provide solid evidence that education in the performing arts encourages and teaches creativity and imagination, the art of interpretation, cross cultural differences, the value of different perspectives, teamwork and team building skills, self expression, and general public performance skills, to name just a few - all valuable skills regardless of one's career choices. It enhances studies in language arts and world history, and is informed by these other disciplines. It fosters the integration of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. And, it provides very positive and affirming learning experiences for students whose learning style is more learning-by-doing than learning through books and lectures, contributing significantly to their motivation, self-esteem and success in high school.
I recognize the difficult task before our administrations and school committees to plan and justify ever-increasing budgets in the face of declining enrollments. The community is clearly asking for tax cuts, and the school budgets receive by far the lion's share of our taxes. However, it seems that if a school budget must be trimmed, actual curriculum and instructors should be the last thing to go. The primary business of a school is not to maintain a facility, to provide supplies, to manage teachers, to provide busing, or to provide many of the other line items in the budget. The primary business of a school is to educate. It's possible to provide education without providing pencils or buses. You cannot provide education without teachers and curriculum.
The cost of restoring the half-time music instructor position for one more year would be $27,349.
As a stopgap measure only, a group of concerned community members is working to add articles to each of our six town warrants to raise the funds to restore the half-time music position back to full time, for just one more year. Dividing up this modest one-time sum according to current high school enrollments in each town means, for example, that the town of Aquinnah, with the fewest students, would be asked to appropriate a one-time amount of just $714, and the town of Oak Bluffs, with the most students, would be asked for just $7,676.
Our thought is that if we can just keep our current bare-bones faculty positions in the budget for one more year, this would buy us a year to work on obtaining alternative sources of funding to not only maintain but in fact continue to enhance the vitality of this outstanding program, while at the same time reducing the burden on taxpayers in the long term. We have in mind developing and executing a business plan that would involve applying for grants, holding fundraisers and seeking donors. We already have two active, community-based nonprofit organizations in place that support our high school performing arts department.
We are also looking for other forms of support from the community. Our administrations and school committees need to know what value their constituents place on the arts curriculums in our schools. The cuts in next year's budget are just the beginning. More and deeper cuts will follow. If there is no community response to this year's budget cuts to the arts, your administrations will surely read that as a lack of value placed on the arts in our curriculums. Thus, we are also working to add a second article to each town warrant, which would allow towns to vote to communicate their support for performing arts education in our schools without voting to actually appropriate funds. This expression of community support may be important in seeking grants and donors in the long term.
To add these articles to town warrants, we need a small number of petition signatures from each town. Please keep your eye out for opportunities to sign these petitions. Remember, your signature would not be a vote to appropriate money or express support - it would simply provide each of our towns the opportunity to consider and vote on these articles at the next town meeting.
In addition, we would welcome participation of any sort from more community members in our activities to support the performing arts programs in our schools. We have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that our current and upcoming high school students will enjoy the same performing arts opportunities as past students. Please email me at email@example.com if you are able and willing to support our efforts in any way.
Our faulty beliefs
To the Editor:
I would like to share some thoughts that have come to my mind as a result of attending the League of Women Voter's Jan. 25 immigration forum:
It seems to me that our lives are steered by our beliefs, and unfortunately, some of them are faulty and very powerful. Here are three:
1. People are not created equal. Yes, I know that we say the opposite in our Declaration of Independence and most religious documents. But in the real world, we believe that some people/groups are more valuable and deserving than others.
2. The high-value people have greater rights to earth's resources (land, oil, etc.).
3. The high-value people get to rule. They get to restrict, deport, imprison, or kill those who they decide are bad, inferior, or undeserving.
These faulty beliefs have greatly influenced our behavior, and have helped shape history. Two examples follow:
(a) The settlement of North America. Europeans (our ancestors) considered themselves superior to the Native Americans, so felt justified in taking their land, killing many, and confining survivors to reservations.
(b) Slavery in the U.S. Our ancestors decided that they were superior to Africans, so took away their freedom, declared their ownership, and worked them until they died.
Many other examples exist, including those that have resulted in the extermination of millions of people (Jews, etc.), poverty, starvation, and restricted rights (speech, voting, movement, etc.).
It seems to me that our present U.S. immigration policy is based upon these same faulty beliefs. We seem to believe that:
(a) Our ancestors (European settlers) were superior to Native Americans, so had the right to take control of the continent and pass ownership to their offspring (and finally you and me).
(b) We Americans are superior to Mexicans, Brazilians, etc. and thus have the right to sort through them and admit only those who we judge as valuable and deserving. (I wonder how Native Americans would have sorted through our ancestors if they'd been given chance?)
Therefore, because our present immigration policy is based upon faulty beliefs, I suggest that it be abolished. I recognize that its abolition will be very difficult (just as it was with abolishing slavery, abolishing women's voting ban, and abolishing the inhumane treatment of Native Americans).
But I believe that we can (and must) abandon the callous and immoral perceptions that we have toward people wanting to move to North America. Like our European ancestors, the Mexicans, Brazilians, etc. are valuable and good people and are simply trying to find a place where they can live decent, free lives.
To the Editor:
There is a lot of talk on the Cape and Vineyard about developing alternative energy, but we can do more than talk. We can buy such energy today by selecting one of two Cape Light Compact Green rates for residential or commercial electric service. These options support renewable and sustainable energy sources from on and off Cape and Vineyard that have come online in the last 10 years, or will come soon. This means wind, solar, low impact hydro, landfill gas, and biomass.
Most types of green energy are currently still more expensive than fossil fuel energy. However, buying green today helps build demand and fund technological innovation, which should bring prices down.
Instead of supporting U.S. fossil fuel dependence, why not go green? Choose 50 percent or 100 percent green energy. The surcharge over regular rates is small and the difference you pay is deductible from your federal taxes, if you itemize and your tax deductible amount is equal to or greater than $10. Currently, for example, the price difference for residential is 0.9 cents/kWh for 50 percent green (about $4.50-$5.50 a month more for average use) and 1.6 cents/kWh for 100 percent green ($8.50-9.50 a month).
To sign up, call the Compact at 800-381-9192 or go to the web site: www.capelightcompact.org/enroll.
To the Editor:
I've been to two separate Island Plan meetings. At the first meeting West Tisbury's Martha's Vineyard Commission member Linda Sibley aggressively defended West Tisbury's policies to keep the rest of the public off of Lambert's Cove Beach. The beach is a public park.
At the next meeting, I heard her say how important it was to maintain hunting and fishing on the Island. Access to public areas is paramount to hunting and fishing. This hypocrisy will relegate The Island Plan to more feel-good rhetoric that is already pervasive on the Island.
There are plenty of West Tisbury residents involved with The Island Plan. It would be great to hear from one of them who feels that sharing the beach is the right thing to do. I doubt it will happen, though. End beach apartheid.