Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was addressed to the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror:

There is an obvious, self-serving and shameless campaign going on to discredit the Democratic candidate for state representative for the Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket seat being given up by Eric Turkington. This newspaper is complicit in spreading this misinformation. The Tim Madden campaign is going around with buttons saying Save the SSA, as if a vote for him will save the Steamship Authority from what I can only imagine.

Perhaps the button refers to a bill filed by Senator Pacheco, and cosponsored by myself, that would give the state ten per cent of the vote on the board of the Steamship Authority. Ten per cent hardly qualifies as a state takeover. One has to wonder why the Madden campaign and this newspaper would accuse the Democratic candidate of complicity in this imaginary act that would strip away local control?

Could it be that Mr. Larkosh, the Democratic candidate for the district, is a real Democrat with union support? I know that is something totally alien to Mr. Madden and something difficult for him to understand but Democrats are the party of the working people and it is customary for them to get support from unions who represent working people.

Dan Larkosh has never agreed to support any legislation let alone the Pacheco bill. In my own opinion, the bill actually makes sense because of the inefficient operation of the SSA. The Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Steamship Authority is the only quasi-governmental transportation authority that has no state oversight. And yet the commonwealth guarantees payment of the SSA’s bonds if it should default. But Dan Larkosh has not agreed to support any legislation.

If he is elected, Dan will be able to mediate fairness in any legislation that affects the Islands and he will be the first representative the Islands have had for decades.

On the wind farm, current polling contradicts your publication’s position — especially in Falmouth. Is there any doubt why Dan Larkosh, the Democratic candidate for the Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket district, won the nomination of the party? Falmouth obviously rejected one of their own to overwhelmingly cast their votes for Dan. Perhaps it was because Dan was the only one to speak factually about the wind farm. The other candidates opposed the wind farm for reasons that were simply untrue.

Tim Lasker’s comments and actions are disappointing. He should be reminded that if he is truly a Democrat he should support the candidate elected in the Democratic primary.

If you have to re-register as a Democrat like Mr. Madden did, one has to wonder why. Was he previously unsure he was a Democrat? What makes him so sure he’s a Democrat now? Is it just a convenience to get elected? And if he truly wants to be a Democrat wouldn’t he bow to the winner of the primary after his failed bid for a write-in campaign? Eric Turkington did after he lost his write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination to Tom Cahir in the 1980s. Eric came back to win the Democratic nomination for the new Barnstable Dukes and Nantucket District created in 1990. Madden and Lasker are putting any future support they may seek from the Democratic party at risk by their actions taken today.

I urge all voters to cast their votes for Dan Larkosh, a resident of the Vineyard and a solid Democrat who’s not afraid to say he’s a Democrat. I look forward to working with Dan to resolve all the problems that the Cape and Islands have in common.

Matthew C. Patrick



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My dad died at Walter Reed in 2006. I lost my mom and brother, both also veterans, the same year. Since then I’ve paid particular attention to how well this country takes care of its veterans and to the presidential candidates voting records on veterans issues. It turns out we’re not all John McCain’s friends. His congressional record points to his being a much better friend to fiscal conservatives than to veterans. The 2008 Congressional Report Card issued by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (an analysis of congressional voting records on veterans issues) gives McCain one of its lowest grades (a D). Barack Obama and Joe Biden were awarded B grades. The most recent rating by the Disabled American Veterans group (also a veterans issue specific analysis of voting) gives McCain a pitiful score of 20 (out of 100) while Barack Obama scored an 80 (and Joe Biden a 75).

My family (like other veterans I have talked to of late) would have identified with McCain’s military service, and unless they actually looked at his record with veterans, might have supported him in this election. If veterans get on the Web sites of these nonpartisan veteran groups, they’ll see it’s Obama, not McCain, who has truly been their friend and would more likely have their back in the Oval Office.

Betsy Harrington



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I live in a country where political intolerance is the rule, quite unlike the United States where we can vehemently disagree, but in the end we pull together.

Here in Nicaragua there are several parties, each having their own color: FSLN is red and black. PLC is red; ALN is red and white; PC is green and MRS is orange. You are known by the colors you wear. When you belong to a party, you wear their colors, paint your house that color, spout their rhetoric and beat up anyone who disagrees with you. What is happening now is burning homes, cars, throwing stones at and killing political opponents. Political rallies and speeches are usually broken up by opponents, and journalists who ask questions of politicians are threatened.

I happened to buy an orange T-shirt from the Ocean State Job Lot in Falmouth for $3 for my husband. He wore it to go to the market to buy fruit in Nicaragua. Orange is the color of the MRS, which is a splinter party from the FSLN. That night someone spray painted our home with FSLN colors and a few obscenities. Yesterday Omar wore a red baseball cap with Miami Heat on the front, and our car was egged. We do not belong to any political party, because we consider them all corrupt and self-serving.

Engage in debates and animated discussions, but please do not fall prey to what is happening here. Intolerance of opinions different from yours is a deadly trap. I also do not know anyone who can be pigeon-holed into a rigid format. Most of us have compiled ideas from all parties, changing with our life experience. It is too easy to call people right wing or left wing —makes it easier for us to neatly catalog people, but that is very dangerous. I am living it down here in Nicaragua.

Muriel Laverty

Masaya, Nicaragua


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Artists for Obama fundraiser held at Dragonfly Gallery and Alison Shaw Gallery on Oct. 12 and 13 is proud to have raised $21,535 for the Obama/Biden campaign. This was truly a grass-roots event that left everyone involved, including the over 50 participating artists, gallery owners Holly, Alison and Sue, the public who had an unprecedented chance to donate and choose a piece of Island art and the others who gave freely of their time and expertise, feeling inspired, happy and grateful.

Everyone gave for the future of our country.

All involved deserve a big thank-you but several need a special word: Holly Alaimo who said yes without hesitation to hosting, Pam Coblyn our graphic designer, the spectacular gallery helpers and the Island art community, some of whom donated more than one piece. A special mention must be made to Alison Shaw who raised a third of our money from the donation of dozens of her incredible photographs. Lastly, I thank the Island people who supported this fund-raiser.

To all my Island artist friends, I am so proud to be part of a group who are so wise and generous. Yes, we can!

Leslie Baker

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As two of the volunteers at the Art For Obama fundraiser at the Dragonfly Gallery last weekend, we want to thank the artists who donated their works, Holly Alaimo who offered her gallery for the event, and especially Leslie Baker who conceived the project and delivered it with style and grace.

Bonnie and Bob George



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to make mention of and to thank a group of individuals who work behind the scenes (i.e. authorized personnel only) delivering valuable services that we would like to bring to light. On Sept. 23 and 24, two informational meetings were held, one at the Wampanoag tribal administration building in Aquinnah and one at the Tisbury senior center in Vineyard Haven. The occasion was a visit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to conduct a tularemia and Lyme disease study for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) members and their families.

While the CDC provided much in the way of materials needed to conduct the study, in addition to traveling from Colorado and Georgia, to lend their expertise, we were still in need of phlebotomists to draw blood from participants in the study. We had asked for volunteers from another organization and they declined but thought they could muster up the required personnel if we could pay for the services. The Wampanoag health service staff is small and currently without a nurse or funds to pay for such services. An e-mail was sent to Carol Bardwell, chief nursing officer at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital explaining our dilemma. She coordinated with Lynn Mercier, lab manager, and in short order we had the volunteers needed to make the event a success. In addition, Carol engaged Donna Enos, infection control nurse at the hospital, and she quickly volunteered to assist.

It wasn’t known in advance how many people might participate, but nurses and phlebotomists were willing to donate their time as needed, sacrificing an evening of much earned and deserved relaxation at home. As it turned out, the response and number of folks who turned out for the study was much higher than anticipated. Participants and staff alike were not only appreciative but in awe of how this sudden demand was met with immeasurable calm and cheerfulness. Each participant was shown unrivaled courtesy, care and compassion, without exception.

At the end of each evening, after the last draw was made, it was necessary for the blood samples to be spun down in a centrifuge. Again, this required equipment and skill that was not available at the Wampanoag health service clinic. Again, it was Lynn Mercer (and her devoted staff) at the hospital lab, who came through, quite late at night, to assist the CDC with this aspect of the study.

Tribal members who couldn’t make it to the appointed study dates are still able to participate by going to the hospital lab. It is the same dedicated staff facilitating the continued collection of data for this important study as well as lending the use of the centrifuge for preparing the samples for shipping and delivery to the CDC.

So our hats are off to the following individuals for their outstanding volunteer service: Donna Enos, Muriel Monaco, Ellen O’Brien, Liz Wilson and the lab technicians who put in hours late at night in this effort. I wish I had all of the names of the wonderful staff behind those closed laboratory doors who worked tirelessly through the night. You are unsung heroes. Thank you, Carol Bardwell and Lynn Mercer for all of your support, professionalism and can-do attitudes. As the new hospital goes up‚ it is important to note that bricks and mortar don’t make a great hospital; people like you are what make a hospital great. You are all wonderful assets to this community. Our most sincere gratitude goes out to you.

Ron MacLaren

and Cynthia Robinson



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Sunday, Oct. 12 Alley’s General Store celebrated our 150th birthday as Dealers in Almost Everything! It was a fine autumn day and we had a terrific turnout. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all the kind folks who helped make the party a success.

Alley’s is grateful to all our friends and neighbors for their friendly support. Now that the busy season is behind us, we hope you’ll stop by and say hello. There’s always a fresh pot of coffee at Alley’s.

Rhonda Backus, Manager

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Well of course no one slows down on Island roads (Caught Speeding, editorial in Vineyard Gazette) — despite our claim that the Island is so special, we have the same standard road signs that people tune out all over the country. Yes, enforcement can play a part, but drivers will really only slow down on, say, Lambert’s Cove Road, when they are somehow jolted to realize that going fast is a negative, not a positive. Just 35 mph is not going to do it — we need entirely different signs, like, This Road Established 1844 — What’s Your Hurry?”

Christopher Gray



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Our New England wildlife, from the eastern bluebird to the monarch butterfly, depends on weeds for survival. Weeds, meaning our beautiful, yet neglected native plants, have been weeded out of our yards and replaced by nonnative exotic plants. Through evolution, an intricate relationship has developed between our native plants and our indigenous animals. The native plants provide the required food for our local wildlife. On the other hand, alien plants do not provide the essential diet for their existence. Sadly, we hear fewer songbirds and see fewer wild animals. However, by providing an array of striking native flowers, shrubs and trees we can help to restore our natural landscape.

The number one cause of species extinction is habitat destruction. We do not have to travel to the rainforests to see this. We need look no farther than our backyards. Lawns, most foundation plants and gardens are filled with exotic ornamentals that do not provide food for our native wildlife. We can reverse habitat destruction in our corner of the world by bringing back the colorful and fascinating native plants into our yards. The bonus is seeing more hummingbirds, butterflies, interesting caterpillars, pollinating insects and songbirds.

The true weeds are the invasive nonnative plants that have attacked natural landscapes and have insidiously crept into our yards. Some of the worst offenders include Japanese knotweed, oriental bittersweet and multifora rose. Invasive species are the second leading cause of species extinction, according to conservation biologists.

A great way to get started this fall is to pull out the invasive nonnatives, especially on the edges of your yard, to make way for the native plants to grow. Identify plants before weeding. Hidden under the invasive plants you might discover native plants such as blueberry, flowering viburnum, fragrant milkweed or delicate woodland wildflowers.

This winter, when thinking about plants to add to your yard, consider some Vineyard natives, which will bloom year after year and provide needed food for wildlife. Spring flowering blue-eyed grass provides bright blue flowers perfect for a neat garden edge. Swamp milkweed provides a stunning pink summer bloom, when many other flowers have faded. In the fall, purple aster can replace the chrysanthemum. Winterberry shrub provides bright red berries that are brilliant against the winter snow and provide food for the birds in the early spring. It is important to ask your nursery for the Latin name, not the common name. Otherwise you may end up with an exotic.

Anne Mazar



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you for your article in the Oct. 10 edition of the Gazette, Vineyard Haven Library Series Shows Many Ways to Save Energy. I’d like to add one more detail of how the library is going greener.

The Friends of the Vineyard Haven Library have purchased reusable, recyclable polypropylene bags to reduce the use of plastic bags by library patrons. The sturdy eco-friendly bags can be used to carry books and DVDs from the library, or may be used for groceries or even beach totes. Buy a bag at the library for $1 (which is slightly less than the cost of manufacturing and shipping).

As a kickoff, the first 10 attendees of the energy lecture series Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. will receive a complementary bag.

Anne Lucas

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Rosenthals have done a great service to the Island and to the entertainment community in carrying forward the tradition of live music at Outerland. However, the Gazette’s excellent article on the sale of Outerland on Friday, Sept. 26 may have created a misimpression. Outerland is currently listed with Martha’s Vineyard Premier Properties (since April 8 of this year). We are sure the error was unintentional, and we appreciate your making this correction in print.

Cory Cabral, Michael West

and Roy Cutrer

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing this letter to commend and thank a wonderful Samaritan on your beautiful Island.

My family and I visited Martha’s Vineyard to attend a wedding on Sept. 27. After the wedding, we had a difficult time finding the reception site, which was the Sailing Camp off Barnes Road.

It was dark and pouring rain, and our GPS was not very helpful. After driving up and down Barnes Road for almost an hour, we pulled into the driveway of a town’s resident. When the family saw us approaching, they opened their doors, cheerfully welcomed me in from the rain, and inquired as to how they could help.

One of the family members, a very kind gentleman, offered to drive to the Sailing Camp while we followed him. He held his umbrella over my head as he escorted me back to our car.

We hope that this wonderful family will see this letter.

By the way, we are an African American family who was rather reluctant to knock on the door of complete strangers in the dark. This incident truly touched our hearts, and we are extremely grateful for this experience.

Violet Watson

West Orange, N.J.