Vineyard Grocer granted license

Seidman sidelined from a finance committee peppered with potential conflicts.

Elio Silva stands before his Vineyard Haven market. — Rich Saltzberg

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Tisbury select board approved a common victualer’s license for Vineyard Grocer. A mainstay of the Vineyard’s Brazilian community, the business was denied a victualer’s license on August 11, despite required code fixes and upgrades being done, including a long-awaited fire alarm system. Business owner Elio Silva previously said he felt racial prejudice might have informed the denial. Following that meeting, select board member Jeff Kristal said he was at a loss for how the board’s decision could have been construed as racially influenced.

“I have a question. Is everything signed off?” select board member Jeff Kristal asked Tuesday. 

Alexander Kral, executive assistant to the town administrator, replied, “Yes.”

“Then I’ll make a motion that we approve the common victualer’s license for Vineyard Grocer, 294 State Road,” Kristal said. 

The last time Kristal moved the vote forward, he wound up casting a no vote. That didn’t happen again. 

“If everything is signed off and approved, I will second,” select board member Larry Gomez said. 

Ahead of the vote, select board chair Jim Rogers asked Silva if he wished to comment.

“At the time of the last vote, everything was signed off,” Silva said.

“Unfortunately that’s not the information that we have,” Rogers said. “Let’s move beyond that, put that behind us — so sorry for any discomfort that was caused. Sounds like you’re all set to go now.”

“Thank you,” Silva said.

Kral pointed out what appeared to be a parliamentary misstep — that the board didn’t close the Vineyard Grocer hearing back on August 11. The board voted to close the hearing.

Silva told The Times Wednesday morning that he was in compliance three weeks ago. He admitted there had been a few hiccups getting the alarm system installed. These included, he said, delays from contractors, delays from Eversource, pandemic delays, and negotiating with the landlord. 

Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland said his department inspected the new fire alarm system on July 20 and found it in good order. His department returned August 18, following the select board’s denial, and found the alarm system remained in good order, Leland said. 

Familial ties multiply on finance committee

In a joint session with the finance committee, the select board appointed three new finance committee members: Kelley Metell, Allan Rogers, and India Rose. The select board voted unanimously to appoint Metell. The finance committee supported her appointment 6-0. The select board unanimously appointed Rogers and Rose too. The finance committee voted 6-0 for Rogers, and 5-1-0 for Rose, with committee member Laura Rose abstaining. 

Metell is a teacher, Rogers a retired logistics manager, and Rose a business and public relations consultant. Applicant Dan Seidman, a professional financial planner and a former member of the planning board, wasn’t afforded a seat on the finance committee. 

Asked if the résumés of the applicants were reviewed by the select board as part of the evaluation process, Rogers said he didn’t believe so.

“We reviewed submittal letters, ” he said. He was unsure if town hall staff or the finance committee reviewed résumés. “I know I didn’t look at any actual résumés,” he said. “I just looked at letters of intent.”

Gomez, a former finance committee member, said he hadn’t looked at any résumés either.

Asked if there was a way to gauge the financial experience of the applicants based on the letters they presented, Rogers said, “You get a feel for the history of the applicants, what they’ve done, and whether or not they’ve been involved in financial matters.”

Kristal pointed out the applicants were previously interviewed publicly by the finance committee and the select board. 

With the new slate of appointees, the finance committee sports several potential conflicts of interest based on family relationships. Finance committee member Jynell Kristal is married to select board member Jeff Kristal. Newly appointed finance committee member Kelley Metell is married to DPW director Kirk Metell. Newly appointed finance committee member India Rose is the daughter of finance committee member Laura Rose. 

Reached Tuesday night after the meeting, India Rose said she hadn’t consulted with the State Ethics Commission regarding the blood tie she now has on the finance committee, but had consulted with select board members. She said she believed they would have vetted any potential conflicts. “I mean, they must have,” she said.

Rose said she grew up in Tisbury, and has a daughter in Tisbury School. “The town means a lot to me,” she said.