Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In last week’s various articles on budgetary woes, I couldn’t help but notice an ironic juxtaposition. In one article the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh stated that free care was down $1.2 million, which he attributed to the state’s health insurance mandate. In another article Sarah Kuh, program director of the Vineyard Health Care Access Program, pointed out they assisted about 1,500 clients in 2008, resulting in 2,500 Island residents obtaining health insurance.

Perhaps the efforts of the access program in providing enrollment assistance for the state’s subsidized health plans had something to do with the hospital seeing more patients who had health insurance.

In our nation’s renewed spirit of cooperation and communities pulling together it might be beneficial for the hospital to acknowledge and support the work of the access program.

Mary Leddy



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Last November you published a letter written by a gentleman from South Dartmouth in which he decried the existence of the hook and line commercial striped bass fishery in Massachusetts.

If conservation and over-harvest is his concern, it would make more sense for this individual to call for the elimination of the recreational fishery, rather than, as he did, the commercial fishery, as far more bass meet their demise at the hands of sportsmen than at the hands of commercial harvesters.

The most recent (2007) figures on captured bass available from the Atlantic States Marines Fisheries Commission, are as follows:

• Coastwide commercial fishery, 7,048,137 pounds; recreational fishery, 22,740,731 pounds.

• Massachusetts commercial fishery, 1,040,328 pounds; recreational fishery, 4,784,948 pounds.

Given these facts, it seems to take exquisite chutzpah to point an accusatory finger at the commercial fishery.

Fortunately, both fisheries have been subject for over two decades to a strictly managed and immensely successful coastwide conservation plan. The resource has been immense; the recovery historic. It is controlled by quota caps, season closures, bag limits and in the case of Massachusetts, both fisheries utilize the same gear: hook and line.

If you sat down to design an ideal commercial fishery from scratch, you probably would come up with something like the Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishery; a strict conservation framework, size and species-selectivity, negligible gear conflict, equal opportunity and best of all, one that produces a delicious product that the public loves to eat.

Both fisheries, recreational and commercial, over-harvested in the 1970s; both have made great sacrifices to bring back the resource since the 1980s and both will continue to be subject to a coastwide management plan that enforces conservation by federal law.

Indeed, this is a commercial fishery worthy, not of elimination, but of expansion and replication.

Russell Cleary


R ussell Cleary is acting executive director of the Commercial Anglers Association.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

How come, with this inaugural gift of the discovery that we as a nation can be realistic about race, we have overlooked the greater gift? Given to each of us, it is powerful but invisible. In my 85 years I have shared the despair of my black playmates, and later friends, in those times when about us blind hatred prevailed. With them I have rejoiced at each new dimension of healing. But such blessings were always tempered or adjusted by the difficulty of facing each other for fear that our understanding would not be understood.

Now we have been given a new language, one that allows us to face each other on truly equal ground, to dismiss the barriers of the past, to speak directly, free of guilt, to prove to each other that respect — and often love — are alive and well, and a part of ourselves that no one can ever take away. How come?

Joe Eldredge

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The inauguration of Barack Obama, though noteworthy, was not historic. It will be a historic inaugural day when we elect a president based on accomplishments, moral character and leadership ability with no thought given to race, religion or gender.

Brian Smith

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you Mr. President, for freeing me from the bondage imposed on me by my racist brothers and sisters, remarks made against African-Americans and other nonwhite Americans by insensitive and ignorant individuals. Often made as jokes but rooted in hatred, those remarks were a burden to me my entire life.

It started on a playground, on the same street in Somerville, where you formerly resided. As a young child, words against black people were said every day on that playground, as we chose sides for baseball. That was 50 years ago. Thank God I had parents that were conscientious enough to point me in the right direction.

I was fortunate because my dad, born on Race street in Baltimore in a strictly segregated area of that city divided on racial lines, never once said a bad word against African Americans. I was fortunate to have a role model who had the character and decency to provide me with the right guidance. I was fortunate to have a father who came from a neighborhood that could have turned him into a bitter, angry and resentful bigot, but emerged a better person.

I was fortunate to have a father who was a gentleman, who taught me never to judge someone on the color of their skin.

Thank you Mr. President, for empowering me and millions like me, who were forced to bear the pain of racism from a different perspective, one of guilt and denial for the hateful words spoken by my inconsiderate and misguided brothers.

May your presidency help remind people that we must move beyond prejudice. It cannot and will not be tolerated any longer. May your presidency serve to galvanize our people so that we may stand together, as a nation, once and for all.

May God bless and protect our President.

Ken Lay



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to encourage more people to donate blood on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at the PA Club. Donating blood takes about an hour of your time, the little prick in the arm does not hurt much at all, and your efforts could save a life. Where is the question here? Why don’t more people donate? I really don’t understand it; it actually kind of makes me mad. If you are physically able, just do it.

Employers should make the time it takes an employee to donate as on the clock time, or even give a half day off. Giving blood is a good and selfless gesture. People who do should be proud to donate; those who can, but don’t, should start. In our current economic climate this is something we can do without hitting our wallets — and it will have a better impact.

Most Island residents are proud of our community, and for good reasons. However, less than 100 pints are gathered at most blood drives here, on an Island of over 16,000 residents. I don’t know the percentage of people who donate, state or nationwide. I do know it’s low, and that is not right. Let’s show the rest of Massachusetts we really are a good, strong, and positive close-knit community.

Don’t be afraid of a little prick; you will feel good about yourself, and really help a stranger. That’s pretty cool, I think.

Bill Jacob



Editors, Vineyard gazette:

In your editorial, The Garage That Became a House (12/12/08), you congratulate the Oak Bluffs town boards that took the necessary steps to force the demolition of the Moujabber construction and defend the town zoning bylaws.

While I won’t argue with your gushing high-fives to the boards (“. . . the town of Oak Bluffs deserves credit for taking action that served the broadest public interest.”), I do wonder why you ignore the people who live in the neighborhood.

They deserve some (if not much) of the credit for the removal of that hideous wart on the landscape. These good people have spent countless hours in meeting after meeting, have incurred (probably considerable) legal expenses, have lost much in peace of mind and the enjoyment of their homes, and have worked diligently to see the bylaws enforced.

And now, as a reward for fighting the good fight, they will have to live with a so-called revised plan, wherein Moujabber is allowed to build an addition onto his home that is still out of scale with the other homes in this long-settled (and long-suffering) neighborhood.

Surely you can spare some praise for them, and acknowledge their tremendous contribution to the effort.

I don’t know any of the aggrieved citizens in that neighborhood, but I have been following their struggles with interest. I think if Henry Beetle Hough were alive, he would have energetically allied himself and the Gazette with their cause. He must turn over in his grave when he sees what is happening to the Island: the Moujabbers and the McMansions, the infilling, the flouting of zoning laws and bylaws. I am certain that our dear Mr. Hough is turning over in his grave with such frequency that he is actually spinning, and has earned the sobriquet pinwheel.

Kristen Henshaw



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We are writing to correct $22 million worth of factual errors in two of your recent stories regarding the Edgartown public library and its plans to expand at its historic downtown site.

On Jan. 9, the Gazette story about town applications for federal economic recovery funds made reference to a $15 million request from Edgartown to expand and renovate the town library. In fact, our request was for $5 million to supplement funding already provided by the town and promised by the state of Massachusetts.

On Jan. 16, reporting on the financial advisory committee’s decision not to recommend a $195,000 Community Preservation Act grant to the library, the Gazette described the library’s proposal as “part of a bigger project for which the library is seeking $12 million in state funding.”

In fact, the library is not seeking another penny in state funding for its expansion project. That’s because the state board of library commissioners has already set aside $4.6 million for the expansion and renovation of the Edgartown Public Library on its historic North Water street campus. The citizens of Edgartown have also contributed their share, expressing their desire to keep the library downtown in the strongest terms possible — with their pocketbooks — voting $3.5 million to purchase the adjoining Warren House property and thereby expand the library’s building options.

The Edgartown Community Preservation Committee, after extensive discussions of our proposal to renovate the 1904 Carnegie building which is the historic centerpiece of the library, after studying our 10-page application, and after a visit to the site, voted unanimously to support this project. The financial advisory board, after a few minutes of discussion and without studying our documents — without even the basic courtesy of inviting a representative from the library board of trustees to be present to explain the plan — decided to recommend against. We would gently but firmly suggest that the latter, hastier decision was by far the poorer of the two.

We take it from the Gazette’s report — not having been invited to the meeting ourselves, it’s impossible to be sure — that the primary concern expressed by members of the financial advisory committee, in deciding not to recommend our project, was that it is somehow premature to undertake the repairs we have proposed to the Carnegie library building. Had these members read our proposal, or invited one of our board to explain it to them, they would know that the proposed work has been designed to preserve and restore the building, whether or not it is moved closer to North Water street as part of the library expansion plan.

The proposed project involves the restoration of woodwork, trim and bookcases, the refinishing of the original oak flooring, removal of display cases and of inappropriate and inefficient lighting fixtures, both installed in the 1970s, repairing and refinishing the original bifold doors, improving the brick entryway to the 1938 addition, replacement of panes in the original windows to save energy, and repairs to cornice and exterior trim.

Not a single aspect of this project will be endangered if the Carnegie building is moved forward as part of a later expansion. As was explained in the proposal unanimously approved by the Community Preservation Committee: “While the trustees of the Edgartown library have developed a capital campaign project to address the library’s current service demands and future growth, steps to restore and preserve the historic Carnegie building must be undertaken regardless of the future expansion project. The planned work will be in keeping with the original historic design, will provide for greater library functionality and security, and will achieve greater energy efficiency.”

Thank you for this opportunity to set the record straight. We remain firmly convinced that our proposal to restore the historic Carnegie building is exactly the sort of project for which the Community Preservation Act was created, and that it represents a responsible approach both from the standpoint of fiscal prudence and the good stewardship of Edgartown’s historic resources. We look forward to defending the merits of our restoration plan on the floor of annual town meeting in April.

Ann Tyra



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like the thank so many people who helped me and my family during a very difficult time. Thanks to all who came by, dropped off food, called and sent beautiful flowers and cards. Thanks for all the hugs, kisses and kind words. There hasn’t been a day gone by that someone has not stopped me to express their sympathy.

The death of Anthony (Tuffy) Gonsalves has left a hole in so many hearts. His family misses him very much. Please keep him and all of us in your prayers. Thanks again to all from the bottom of my heart for all you have done.

Margaret Oliveira



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to share a heartwarming story that reflects the character of our community.

On a recent shopping trip to down-Island Cronig’s, I unloaded my grocery bags into the car and inadvertently left my wallet in the shopping cart. It was snowing heavily and it was very cold. I brought the cart back to the store and never noticed that my wallet was still in the cart.

Shortly after I returned home, I received a call from the Cronig’s acting store manager informing me that a customer had spotted my wallet and brought it to the desk. The manager put it in the office safe until I could pick it up the next day.

When I drove by this morning to retrieve my wallet, there it was, complete with all the credit cards and all the cash.

My sincere thanks to the store manager Sarah Strelecki and to the unidentified honest Vineyarder who returned my wallet intact. I am so grateful to be living in a community where the quality of one’s character is valued beyond temporary material gain.

Judy Crawford

West Tisbury