Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Since the Island Housing Trust and Island Affordable Housing Fund set forth to the public that they did not have the funds promised for the rental program, the Vineyard Gazette as well as the public has looked more closely at the trust and the fund. The Martha’s Vineyard Times did not report in any detail the opposition’s position on the Bradley Square project, only reporting with great well wishes the trust and fund’s position. The Times has written nothing recently but articles and editorials about how wonderful these nonprofits, its projects and John Abrams are. The Vineyard Gazette uncovered such things as percentages of donations and CPA funds (I still get upset over that one!) being given to former fund director Pat Manning as extra salary, the truth behind the history of the Denniston building, the thousands of dollars spent by the nonprofits for a dance floor, the use of a donated car by a nonprofit employee, that the directors are hired and make profits . . . I could go on all day and we do not know if this is just the tip of the iceberg? It does not help the public when the reporting is all one-sided so that the public cannot view both sides and reach an opinion.

So now the Vineyard Gazette does even-handed, well-researched truthful and completely honest reporting and the board members do not like it. Hmmm. Also the tax returns and audit Philippe Jordi is talking about are the ones required to be made public by the IRS for nonprofits and are not very informative. In fact the IRS has recently changed its rules to try to make these tax returns a bit more informative because the nonprofits only give information they are required to give, and no more. Suggesting that those returns have the true picture of the internal workings of the nonprofits, give clarity about the conflicts and profits of the board members and provide transparency is another smoke screen by the nonprofits to shield whatever it is they have been up to and do not want us to know.

Okay, Island Housing Trust and Island Affordable Housing Fund, once again: open the meetings, make public the minutes, reveal the conflicts and profits, and open the books.

Candy Nichols



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Island Housing Trust board is made up of Island folks from all walks of life, the community at large, town and Island boards, bankers, accountants, attorneys, real estate agents, businessmen, and very importantly, lessees (homeowners) who volunteer their time and whose primary objective is to create and keep affordable housing on this Island. They have spent countless hours creating a terrific and very committed board and a ground lease that is designed to preserve long-term affordability with an ongoing monitoring body in place.

The Island Housing Trust has observed and borrowed from other trusts around the country and done an amazing job of creating a trust that best serves our unique Island situation with its commitment to conserving the land as well as its people. Why is every article written by the Gazette about these housing organizations skewed to make it seem we are all a bunch incompetents trying to deceive the public with our shady financial practices? I’m all for thorough transparency and would not be on this board if I thought for a minute that it was not doing everything in its power to remain open and committed to represent the public need in the most ethical and honest way possible.

It seems clear from the paper’s editorial three weeks ago and other recent articles, that the Gazette has an agenda and that they are going to do everything possible to discredit the Island Housing Trust as well as the Island Affordable Housing Fund. No one is trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. You make a point of not mentioning all the incredible work that has been done by both boards in the last several years. Why?

Can we improve? You bet! We rely heavily on private donations and town participation through CPAs and town affordable housing trusts. There is no housing bank to keep the ball rolling as with land conservation. Being as transparent as possible is absolutely necessary but the paper’s efforts to castrate and discredit two excellent organizations will do no good in the near future for anyone hoping to have affordable housing on this Island.

In addition, none of us who has even a remote financial connection to a project that comes before the trust board can either discuss or vote on that project and are made to leave the room. As required by the state ethics commission, we must all disclose any perceived conflict of interest to our appointing boards. I am not sure what this “profiting” on the board is about if any board member connected to a particular project is not able to discuss or vote on it. You are making all kinds of false accusations and assumptions to inflame the public. Perhaps you need to get your facts straight. So, I guess I am asking, what is the witch hunt really about?

Dale Julier

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to thank Tammy Conroy Hersh from Conroy’s Apothecary for avoiding what could have been a serious overdose of medication.

Last week I had the occasion to go off-Island to see a physician who prescribed me a medication which was twice the normal dose. She called the physician’s office to find that someone had made a serious error.

It is gratifying to know that our pharmacist is looking out for us.

Judy G. Mayhew



Editors Vineyard Gazette:

Kate Murray, the director of the high school play and theatre program, is a star. Due to previous travel plans, my husband and I will be unable to see our nephew perform in the musical Rent this week. Kate kindly let us have sneak preview at a dress rehearsal. Even with mostly understudies, this play is superb. The high school should be extremely proud of its students. The subject matter of Rent is provocative and these young actors handle it with true maturity and great dignity. Kate Murray has directed a brilliant musical. You don’t want to miss this one; go see Rent this weekend at the high school performing arts center.

Lisa Brown Langley



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It is with admiration and thankfulness that I write this letter to our community. Two weeks ago a benefit was held for Dede Hagen at the Mediterranean Restaurant. As expected, our community came together to help a family who has been fighting an emotional and costly battle against cancer. What I didn’t expect in organizing this event was how many ways people showed they cared. Throughout the process of putting together this fund-raiser, I was continuously humbled by the generosity of people.

I would like to publicly thank everyone who helped to create this special night, including Leslie Hewston of Mediterranean Restaurant. The silent auction was an amazing experience that would have never happened without Sarah Aliberti’s diligence and the silent auction angels. It seemed that out of nowhere a group of women got together to set up and run the silent auction. I am so thankful to all these amazing women who came to the rescue. There are too many of them to thank individually in this letter. So many people donated items and services, all of which were bid on generously. Thanks to all.

And lastly, thanks to all who came to the event; on a cold January night about 350 people came out to support a family in need. We never expected such an outpouring of people.

The saying goes, it’s better to give than receive. That night we all gave something to Dede, whether by donating money, items, time or our love. To quote Dede’s own words that night, she felt “covered in love.” We should feel very proud about what our community does for one another. I know I am.

Elliott Bennett