Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want the voters who will be voting on the override on May 28 in Oak Bluffs to know how strongly I oppose placing the town’s budget problems on just the schools. With less than 40 per cent of the town’s budget, the schools in Oak Bluffs are being asked to fund 100 per cent of the budget override. This is wrong. This is a town problem, not just a school problem.

I find disturbing the reoccurrence of the us versus them attitude about schools in this community that was predominant in the 1980s and early 1990s. The town would still own the building on School street, now worth well over a million dollars, instead of selling it for a mere $245,000 in 1994. I thought the attitude that the school was not part of the town had gone away. But now that this override is for the school instead of distributed among all the departments, it is back. Very unfortunate.

The school committee made more than $207,500 of cuts from our proposed elementary budget before even submitting it to the finance committee. In the last five years the schools’ share of the town budget has decreased from 39.97 per cent in 2004 to 36.79 per cent this year, not increased as this override may suggest.

Our elementary school is a community. Its budget supports 408 children, their teachers, guidance professionals, paraprofessionals, custodial staff, cafeteria workers providing breakfast and lunch, and office staff.

The elementary school budget supports custodial costs, building maintenance and most building repairs, heat and electricity, wastewater, and telephone, unlike all other town departments except the wastewater department.

Our population remains steady at between 405 to 410 students and we do not anticipate the drop in enrollment that is expected at the high school.

Negotiated salaries are 78 per cent of the budget, superintendent shared services are 16 per cent of the budget and the expenses — cut from last year — are 6 per cent of the budget.

But if the elementary school override fails we will make over $236,000 in cuts in the elementary school budget. If the voters support the override they will be supporting instrumental music, grades two through five Spanish, two special needs paraprofessionals, the library assistant, an after school program for kids to help with homework, one of three bus routes, our cultural programs, one custodian, a mentoring program for new teachers and more totaling more than $236,000 in cuts and seven full or part-time staff.

Oak Bluffs already spends substantially less per child than Tisbury or Edgartown or Up Island.

We must support the override to maintain not only the excellent elementary education we provide to our kids, but to stay on a par with the other towns on Martha’s Vineyard and not put the kids from Oak Bluffs at a disadvantage when they reach the high school.

Priscilla Sylvia

Oak Bluffs

election REMINDER

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Next week the voters in Oak Bluffs will vote on an override and debt exclusion that totals to $864,655. You might think that is a substantial chunk of money.

So consider that America spends that amount every three minutes and 43 seconds on an unjustifiable and indefensible war that never should have happened.

Ken Rusczyk

Oak Bluffs

Sheriff needs oversight

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am an inmate currently incarcerated at the Edgartown house of correction and this correspondence is in regard to a situation that I believe should be brought to the attention of the taxpayers of Martha’s Vineyard and the rest of the commonwealth.

As you know, the good sheriff of Dukes County has been complaining about the fact that he is over budget and needs additional funding, from the county and state, due to a shortfall in his budget, to cover the remaining months of the fiscal year ending July 1, 2008. Based on the substance of the Gazette’s May 2 article, it would appear that the good sheriff has sold his loyal flock (Dukes County Commissioners and others) down the river (to Beacon Hill) to secure a supplemental budget from the state.

Meanwhile, back at the jail the control room is, at any given time, being manned by an employee with the rank of sergeant who devotes a significant portion (three to four hours) of his shift on a taxpayer-owned and operated computer playing solitaire at taxpayer expense. This is common knowledge among staff and inmates and I have personally witnessed this activity, not fair to the other hardworking staff members. This is just one of the examples of the mismanagement currently plaguing the sheriff’s office.

Based on my observances it is my opinion that a full financial audit is needed of the sheriff’s office books. Moreover, the audit should not be restricted to just that particular area. It should also include a review of staff credentials, education and training. Another area that needs to be examined is the staff-to-inmate ratio. Why does the good sheriff need 44 employees to oversee 20 inmates? That is a two-to-one ratio plus.

Let me tell you how the good sheriff will address or handle the substance of this correspondence. He will no doubt, deny, defend and reward Sergeant Solitaire and retaliate and punish me the inmate for bringing these issues to the attention of the taxpayers of the commonwealth. Apparently, inmates are only held accountable for their actions.

All statements made in this document are to be true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Robert Wilkins



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My wife and I are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support that came our way on May 1 at Outerland that we’re really at a loss to even begin thanking.

I know things started with Barbara Puciul-Hoy and Slim Bob Berosh, and soon Barry and Mona Rosenthal of Outerland, Don Groover, and Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish all joined the juggernaut. So there’s a load of thanks right there.

Beyond that point food was cooked, posters made and local media generously publicized the event, so another truckload of thanks. Somehow I suspect Tisbury Printer and Vineyard Playhouse were hotbeds of conspiracy.

And then there was that sweet, crazy audience! I’m going to have to live a long time and not be a jerk to pay these good Island people for the reception I was given.

We are both humbled and buoyed by the great deal of financial support that poured in. Believe me, we can use every penny as we navigate the changes in life cancer has dealt us.

For me, the best thing was still the music. Hearing people who I’ve watched study roots music for decades cut loose and play it real not only packed the dance floor, but warmed my heart.

Remember, this is the Island where Thomas Hart Benton painted Gail Huntington. We have a tradition here of simple, honest music shared with joy and finesse, and that tradition was romping and stomping May 1 at Outerland.

So thanks for the hard work, the love, the money, and most of all for the spirit. And thanks from Milo in Mongolia, where he’s reaching for the dream.

Basia and Maynard Silva

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Ever since moving to the Vineyard almost 10 years ago, my husband and I have driven or walked past the Bradley property and watched it slowly falling into ruin. We entertained dreams of buying it ourselves and using it as a home and studio where I could make and sell my art and where we could offer affordable rentals to other artists in the developing SoHo area of this wonderful Island.

So, now to have a viable plan to make this a reality for so many people on so many levels is a dream come true. Imagine it, affordable living and working space in a great location for artists who don’t have the means, or the heart, for mega-mansions. Affordable housing for people who desperately need it — and the revitalization of a historic neighborhood where a number of derelict and abandoned houses blight the area for the rest of the residents and home owners. And yet, there are those who would so constrict the development of the Bradley Square project as to render this all but impossible.

What really is the problem? Why is there venom dripping from the trees? Why are longtime friends and neighbors turning against one another? I don’t believe it is all about parking on the streets for at best three or four days a year for a couple of hours. Is it covert opposition to affordable housing? Is the not in my backyard principle at work here?

We all know what people who need affordable housing are like. I certainly do, I’m one of them. Is it fear or distrust of change? Is it concern, or fear, over the kinds of strangers who might move in and alter the ambiance of the neighborhood? Is the stonewalling a hedge against future profiteering? These are questions that come to mind. If I had the answers, I wouldn’t be asking them, but I do believe they need to be asked.

What I do know is that over the years of my living here, I’ve seen a funky little tumbledown neighborhood slowly blossom into the arts district of Martha’s Vineyard. It is like no other place on the Island. Here you find artists and shopkeepers and just plain folks, living and working together, helping each other, improving the neighborhood, and bolstering the economy of both the town and the Island. More of the same can only be better.

I want to go on record, as a working artist, a working minister, and a voting resident of Oak Bluffs, to say that we are indeed our brother and sister’s keepers. Remember, when the last tourist leaves in October, who do we really have but each other? Whatever we can do to provide affordable living and working space as well as community meeting and worship space to the many faces and facets of our uniquely diverse community, so be it.

The Rev. Judith Campbell

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing in support of the Bradley Square project. I live on Dukes County avenue. I am a neighbor living in the arts district. I am not a working artist. I came to this specific neighborhood to live among like-minded people, in a diverse community who care about each other and who believe that it is important to not just take from the community, but also to give back, by growing the neighborhood and bringing beauty and culture to this part of Oak Bluffs. I have no agenda.

What I do have is an open heart and mind to believe in the people and in the neighborhood.

One of the reasons I came to this community was because it was a place where artists could live, work and display their art. Many artists cannot afford to live or stay on the Island, and this project would help them to be able to afford to reside here.

There has been the suggestion that this project was planned without the input of neighbors, and then presented to them in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of fashion. To the contrary, all the Bradley Square meetings have been open to the public and it was encouraged for all to attend and have their voices heard. I know that because I came from off-Island to make my suggestions. I was so excited about the care and thought that went into the plans and drawings of the project. What a beautiful way to anchor the neighborhood and to honor the history of the black community.

There seems to be a perception that it is difficult to park in this neighborhood, and as I look out my kitchen window onto Vineyard avenue, I realize that there are tons of available on-street parking spaces, which I believe are there for public use.

As to another area of objection, everyone who knows me knows that plants and trees are my love. As far as them taking down trees on the Bradley Square property, the existing trees are marginal at best, and the plan is to leave the best trees there and to plant new healthy ones with the beautiful landscaping for future generations to grow to love.

It’s my hope that a few people’s negative agenda will not block this incredible humanitarian project.

Martha Adleman

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

When the May 9 edition of the paper came to my box at the post office, I barely made it home for laughing. Thank you for producing, in the article about what was called the “controlled” burn on Noman’s, one of the best howlers you’ve produced in a while. You’ve probably had your nose rubbed in the mess already, but presumably the Gazette staff now knows the difference between ordnance and an ordinance?

We have such anabundance of ordinances these days that it is a very lucky circumstance that the fire was not a Vineyard event, and occurred insteadon another of Moshup’s offshore creations. Had some of those potassium permanganate igniter-balls fallen on our town halls, and found the pilesof unexploded ordinances that proliferate there, we might not have any town centers left anywhere on the Island. Just as an example, not meaning to single out any department in particular,the newly imposed buildingcode contains enough “unexploded ordinance” to level half of the existing structures on the Vineyard. We live in dangerous times.

Tom Hodgson

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Congratulations to the trustees of the Chilmark Community Church and to the leaders of the West Tisbury School in working together successfully in finding a near perfect solution for the new location of the flea market. The West Tisbury School is more central and accessible and Old County Road is safer than rural and narrow Middle Road.

Hoping everyone shops often this summer at the flea!

Gregory H. Green,

Greenwich, Conn.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you to Island fifth and sixth grade students, plus their teachers and parents, who braved rainy weather last Saturday morning, May 17, to attend the model solar car race at the Chilmark Community Center. This race is sponsored by Vineyard Energy Project and Cape Light Compact. It had been originally scheduled for May 3 and postponed because of rain on that day.

We thank everyone for their faith in the weather forecast and their enthusiasm for this project. Forty teams of students were interviewed inside the center by community volunteers who discussed design, technical merit and solar knowledge with them. Full sun emerged just in time for the race at noon!

Although all Island elementary schools participated in making model solar cars for this project, not all participants could attend this rescheduled race. Thanks to teachers Jackie Guzalak, Chilmark School, Anna Cotton, Charter School, Gale Meister, Edgartown School, Kelli Pecararo, Oak Bluffs School, Dan Johnson, West Tisbury School, Lynn Gatchell and Alice Robinson, Tisbury School, and their students for their spirited participation in learning about solar energy, photovoltaic cells and the transfer of energy while making model solar cars for this project.

Thanks also to our community volunteers who are essential to ensuring this race takes place in a variety of ways, including making the race course, inspecting cars, registering and interviewing students, assisting at the start and finish lines, plus organizing ribbons and prizes to give out. Thanks also to the many volunteers who helped.

Nan Doty



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On behalf of the Tisbury school staff we would like to thank our PTO for organizing a wonderful staff appreciation week. All week long we were feted with lovely flowers and scrumptious foods. Each morning winners were randomly chosen to receive items donated by island businesses. Thank you so much for highlighting the work and dedication which keeps the Tisbury School such a vibrant community. The goodwill generated by such appreciative gestures was embraced by one and all.

Connie Alexander

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

During the week of April 14, students at the Edgartown School jumped all over heart disease and stroke by participating in Jump Rope for Heart. The students raised more than $3,000 for the American Heart Association.

Donations raised during Jump Rope for Heart help fund research to fight heart disease and stroke and also support the American Heart Association’s public and professional education programs. Heart disease is the top killer in America and strokes rank third. The event was a huge success, and we are proud of all the jumpers.

Jump Rope for Heart is a program that promotes physical fitness and heart health through the fun activity of jumping rope. It is co-sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Michelle Pikor