Don’t shoot the messenger


To the Editor:

The surprising personal criticisms of Jim Malkin, the Vineyard’s recently appointed SSA governor and chair of the board, by three of the four other governors do not bode well for righting the listing SSA ship. His offense was to report, perhaps too honestly, his insights on the SSA to his appointing board, the Dukes County commissioners, to whom he is responsible. Malkin’s professional background of sorting out troubled corporations and organizations make him uniquely qualified to take the Vineyard’s seat on the SSA board. A quick study besides, he understood immediately many of the SSA’s ongoing problems. There’s bound to be some unwelcome news. The other members of the board need to give him a fair and patient hearing. 

Evidently 80 percent of the SSA board is very satisfied with the management of the ferry line, as they revealed in their criticisms. It is not unreasonable to ask them to take a step back and look more carefully. I realize that shooting the messenger can be very tempting if one has been offended. Ultimately, however, it’s the message that’s important, not how it was phrased. The past two years have made the message very clear: Many ferry users are unhappy. Many Islanders are unhappy with the annual summer flood of vehicles. Many Woods Hole residents have had it with SSA’s lack of sensitivity. Many town officials are concerned about SSA finances and debt. There’s much to do all around, and Jim Malkin can guide, if he’s allowed to.

The county commissioners chose the right guy to be our SSA governor. He shouldn’t have a target painted on his back and front. He needs our thanks, and deserves our support for trying to get the SSA on course. Slings and arrows are easy to launch on all sides, and can consume a lot of energy that is better directed at changing the status quo. How about a truce, and getting down to making all the needed changes?


Richard Knabel

West Tisbury