Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Brandy Marie Gibson in an automobile accident. We did not know her but understand she was a beautiful young woman. Our hearts go out to her family and friends.

According to the police, Brandy and the two other people severely injured in the accident were not wearing seat belts.

We know about the pain of losing a loved one and the importance of seat belts. Our son David Furino turned 17 on May 3, 2004 and died four days later on May 7 in a car crash along with his best friend Kevin Johnson. Both boys were not wearing their seat belts and were ejected from the car.

Life changes in an instant. Your child or loved one is gone forever. They will never walk through the door with a smile on their face. Their dreams and yours cease to exist.

At first you feel unknowable sorrow and then anger. Why did they have to die? Who is to blame? What happened? Why did they forget to buckle up?

How many children or adults will die or become injured until we realize how important it is to wear seat belts? We see drivers young and old and only half are wearing seat belts. We’ve talked to parents who buckle in their children but don’t buckle themselves in. Education is the key from grade school on up and it begins with adults setting an example for their children.

Some people think that this Island is the yellow brick road. It may have been in the past but not now. There are more cars and uneducated drivers, and more hazardous situations.

Others think, “Oh, I’m just going to the store.” But any drive poses the risk of an accident. Statistics show that 80 per cent of traffic fatalities occur within five miles of home and below 40 miles an hour.

They think air bags are enough, but air bags were never intended to be used without a seatbelt. An airbag increases the effectiveness of a seatbelt by 40 percent and are only three per cent effective when used alone in preventing serious injury.

The automobile is the number one killer of teens and young adults in this country. Approximately 68,000 teens died in the past 10 years.

More than half were not wearing their seatbelts. Tens of thousands are seriously injured every year.

Sadly, too many young people have died on Island roads. They leave behind parents and families living their worst nightmare. We should do everything we can to learn from those accidents.

Driving is a privilege. We believe every driver should have the proper education and training and be licensed. In untrained hands, a car is a lethal weapon.

This letter was written to try to make a difference. Please wear your seat belt. We all need to stick together on this. If you know someone you love that does not wear a seat belt, convince him or her to wear it.

Telling someone to buckle up means I love you. You don’t want to live with this kind of pain.

Rest in peace, Brandy, and a speedy recovery to Francellyo Dias and Lessa Keila.

Tom and Barbara Furino



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Who is giving us a correct report of the fatal accident on Jan. 29? Let us compare the accounts published by the Times and the Gazette.

The Times says the deceased, Ms. Gibson, was driving westbound toward Vineyard Haven, and that her car struck the van driven by Mr. Dias. Her car struck the van’s side front wheel with enough force “to push both vehicles back some 50 plus feet,” and “the exact speed of Ms. Gibson’s vehicle has yet to be determined.”

The Gazette says that Ms. Gibson was driving east toward Edgartown and that her car was struck by Mr. Dias’ van. The front wheel of the van struck the Gibson car. “(The van) struck with enough force to push both vehicles back some 50-plus feet.”

So in what direction was Ms. Gibson driving? And did her car drive the van 50-plus feet — or did the van drive the car that distance?

I suggest both newspapers revisit this story, and try to agree on a presumably accurate description of the accident.

Minor Knight

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to share some thoughts that have come to my mind as a result of attending the League of Women Voters’ 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:

• 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 and groups are more valuable and deserving than others.)

• The high-value people have greater rights to earth’s resources (land, oil, etc.).

• 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:

• 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.

• Slavery in the United States: 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 United States immigration policy is based upon these same faulty beliefs. We seem to believe that:

• 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).

• 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 the 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 towards 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.

Chris Fried

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It was with great sorrow that I learned of the passing of Joe Nunes, the patriarch of the Portuguese community. Joe was always willing to help with the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society and other areas of the community.

I first met Joe Nunes at the annual killing of the pigs at the house of Tia Maseda. Growing up in those years of the Depression, those pigs provided the meat to get us through the winter. This was before Thanksgiving. Being that it was cold, I was first introduced to Portuguese prestone. It could have been 20 degrees below, but one sip later it was like it was summer.

The next time I would see Joe, it was in the late spring. There he was, leading the procession of the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society from the Oak Bluffs steamship pier to the Holy Ghost hall.

As some of you read this, you will remember the wakes and funerals held in the homes. Most Portuguese homes had a room that was used only for funerals and wakes that would last all night and sometimes several nights. Joe would be there telling stories to try to cheer the mourners in the kitchen.

Joe was the sextant of Portuguese Catholic Church in Oak Bluffs. One story he would tell was that a couple of weeks before Ash Wednesday, he was supposed to burn the palms from the previous year. He had thrown out the palms, so he had to use Portuguese ingenuity. He went home, burned some cardboard and paper, pulverized it into ash and gave it to the priest.

So for the people left behind, especially Kay Manning and her family, remember Joe with his happy times.

Joe, I know you are up at the big Holy Ghost Festa with my Dad, Joe Burgess, and my uncle Manny Burgess, among others. Have a drink of that prestone, and save a place at the soupas table for me.

Joseph Burgess Jr.

West Sacramento, Calif.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Living in a state that is often associated with progressivism, it is ridiculous that all of the commonwealth’s politicians are not openly supporting the Cape Wind project as a solution to climate change. The fight against Cape Wind does nothing more than solidify stereotypes of politics in the United States.

Most of the politicians in Massachusetts talk an incredible game with regard to global warming and most are willing to walk that talk. However, there are a few privileged politicians who are not willing to support those solutions that they regard as inconvenient.

Our own Sen. John Kerry recently spoke at the Bali conference in Indonesia imploring the international community to move forward with expedient solutions to climate change despite the Bush administration’s unwillingness to keep pace on the issue. Senator Kerry said that he believed the current president does not fairly represent the American people and the next administration will be willing to do more to address global warming.

Senator Kerry is correct. Recent polls show that more than 70 per cent of Americans believe immediate action on climate change is necessary. Senator Kerry clearly understands the urgent need for solutions to global warming and the will of his constituency to address it, but is failing to take meaningful action.

More than 75 per cent of Massachusetts supports the Cape Wind project as a solution to climate change and a move toward clean renewable energy. Senator Kerry has no position on the Cape Wind project.

Senator Kerry, the time for action is now. It is no longer enough to talk about solutions and urge others to action, while supporting only those solutions that are convenient. It is time to step up to the challenge and support the Cape Wind project as a viable solution to climate change.

The scientific community has spoken. The time for discussion and debate has passed.

We need politicians willing to lead and make difficult decisions in order to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change.

Paul M. Moriarty