Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

So the Obamas shouldn’t “live like this” while people are out of work? Poppa Bush can vacation on a huge oceanfront family compound in Maine, Bill Clinton can borrow an 80-acre estate here on the Vineyard, and George W. Bush can set an all-time record for vacationing (490 days) on his 1,600-acre ranch, and also buy an 8,500-square-foot home for well over $3 million in another part of Texas, but when Barack Obama, who so far trails W. by over two months in vacation time, rents a house with his own money — after providing unemployment, COBRA, mortgage, and health insurance support for stressed Americans — he’s living too well for some people? There’s an old saying that in the old South, African-Americans could get close if they didn’t get too high, while in the North they could get high, if they didn’t get too close. Perhaps for some the Obamas are both too close and too high, but for most of us Vineyarders of all colors, they’re right where they belong.

Richard Barbieri

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I’m very glad that the First Family is protecting their privacy. By keeping a low profile, they are able to guard quality family time, something we all strive for, in and out of vacationland, and something that must be close to impossible to find, most of the time, for the President of the United States and his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia. As has been pointed out in many recent Gazette commentaries, the Vineyard is the closest place to perfect for very well known families to hang out since Islanders do not make a big deal out of “celebrity.”

I’m sure the Obamas are grateful to be able to remain out of the public eye — perhaps, a disappointment for celebrity seekers, but a real gift for Islanders and other vacationers, who can more easily go about their business (leisure or labor) unimpeded. For example, my daughter must leave our house, just down the road from the Obamas’ retreat, every morning but Mondays, at about 7:30 a.m. to drive the 12 to 15 miles to her job in Vineyard Haven or Edgartown. The round-trip drive is long, the cost of gasoline is high, but there has been no competition on the few Island roads to town from frequent presidential motorcades of the kind that occurred during President Clinton’s family visits to the Vineyard. I, for one, am grateful that my daughter’s demanding schedule has not become more difficult, that she has had to deal only with the usual volume of summer traffic. It is important that her work schedule is not disrupted since her earnings from summer work and her husband’s is what sustains them in the summer months and will carry them and their two-year-old child through the coming winter.

I am thankful to our First Family for their gift to my Vineyard family, for their thoughtful approach (conscious or not) to being visitors in our neighborhood. We are lucky to have such considerate vacationers and wish the Obama family a wonderful, secluded and happy vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Island. We hope for more — in every way! — in the years to come.

Sally Scott Cook


and Cambridge


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This morning I was distressed to see that someone had deliberately torn off both sides of a sign that I had made that read: “Welcome to the Obamas, Please come and visit the Camp Ground!”

The welcome sign withstood the northeaster but not persons who Monday night pushed out part of our fence and trampled a protected butterfly weed flower in order to do their damage.

I realize that this is a minor thing in the scheme of life, but it is upsetting to think that someone on the Vineyard thought that they should vandalize a sign welcoming our President. My son in law doesn’t agree with my politics, but he agrees this was dirty pool, no matter what your beliefs.

Dorothy Wass

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A variety of people and groups are opposed to wind turbine projects, some with admirable motives. However, there have been recent revelations about the billionaire Koch brothers, Koch Industries, and various Koch-financed front groups. Much of the Kochs’ enormous wealth comes from oil refineries and oil pipelines. They have given many millions of dollars to “denier” groups, in an effort to cast doubt on the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change. They also support efforts to block or delay sources of alternative energy, such as wind farms.

Full-page ads in the Gazette opposing wind turbine projects are costly. Some readers might appreciate some journalistic probing by the Gazette, about the funding of P.O.I.N.T. and other anti-wind energy organizations.

Laurence Pringle

West Nyack, N.Y.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Page Six of the Tuesday, August 24 Gazette, regarding the picture caption: “Special commendation for saving a life.” As an active emergency medical technician for the past 11 years, I do know firsthand that saving a life is very much a team effort, and perhaps you inadvertently overlooked the names of all the other dedicated individuals that played a role in the life saving effort for Mr. Esposito. Chuck Cummens is an outstanding paramedic, but you need many extra hands to be able to have a successful outcome. Please give additional credit where it is due.

Kathleen Perry



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Saturday, August 21, with Gov. Deval Patrick in attendance, the Tisbury volunteer ambulance association honored members of the Island emergency medical technicians service, county dispatchers, hospital staff and police officials who helped save the lives of two people in Tisbury.

Jeff Pratt, ambulance coordinator for the town of Tisbury, and representatives from the American Heart Association presented Save pins and Heartsaver Certificates to over 30 individuals who were part of the lifesaving teams.

One who benefited from the quick response and expertise of Island emergency personnel was Tony Esposito, who was riding a bicycle on State Road when he suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed onto the road. Paramedic Chuck Cummens of Edgartown happened to be going by and stopped tohelp. After initiating, Mr. Cummens called 911. Mr. Cummens was joined by EMT Jennifer Gardner who stopped to assist. En route to the hospital Mr. Esposito was treated with an electrical shock that successfully began Mr. Esposito’s heart pumping. He was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital where he was stabilized and evacuated to Rhode Island Hospital. Mr. Esposito made a full recovery and he and his family attended the ceremony to thank all those who worked so hard to save his life and his lifestyle.

There are two levels of emergency medical technicians: intermediate and paramedic. The difference is in the degree of training and protocols allowed. All levels are authorized to administer shock via a defibrillator, as is the general public. There are automated defibrillators located in many public places on the Vineyard including senior centers, the Steamship Authority, health clubs, and others. According to the American Heart Association, the key to survival of sudden cardiac death is early intervention that includes calling 911, effective CPR, defibrillation and advanced life support.

EMT services are provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury each have their own trained responders. Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury are covered by the Tri-Town ambulance group. Although there is a core group of full-time employed EMTs, most are volunteers who take an extensive training course that covers EMT basic education, a four-month course offered annually on Martha’s Vineyard. The honorees are EMTs Chris Cini, Chuck Cummens, Jennifer Gardner, Enrico Holly, Tracey Jones, Melinda Loberg, Bob Merritt, Jeff Pratt, John Rose, John Shannon, Eamon Solway, Tony White and Zeke Wilkins; Dispatchers Bobby Brown, Maria Williams; Martha’s Vineyard Hospital emergency department staff Dr. Cathy Beland, Sue Bettencourt, R.N., Martha Bishoff, Helen Green, R.N., Maureen Robertson, Rick Call, Rich Huffam, R.N., Betsy Vanlandingham, R.N. and Cindy Taylor, Lauren Frazao; Tisbury police department staff Dan Hanavan, Rodney Silvia and Tim Stobie.

Jeffrey Pratt

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We hear a lot about taxes and reducing the cost of government. More than half of that cost (58 per cent) is the publicly declared military budget of this nation (nationalpriorities.org/charts). The tax burden for our military that is borne by taxpayers in Massachusetts is currently about $21 billion per year (bit.ly/avZw0l). Averaging over the population of Massachusetts (about 6.6 million of us), that’s about $3,200 per year for each man, woman, and child in the state, or $9,600 per year for a family of three.

Multiply the $3,200 per year per person by the 15,875 year-round residents of Martha’s Vineyard (2009 figures: city-data.com/county/Dukes_County-MA). That’s nearly $51 million per year. The breakdown per town on the Island is as follows:

• Edgartown: 4,054, $12,972,800

• Tisbury: 3,916, $12,531,200

• Oak Bluffs: 3,954, $12,652,800

• West Tisbury: 2,701, $8,643,200

• Chilmark: 894, $2,860,800

• Aquinnah: 356, $1,139,200

This does not include “supplemental funding” that is by definition out of budget. Considering only the most recent, the supplemental war funding passed earlier this month was $89 billion, $454 for each man, woman, and child in Massachusetts.

Our federal government spends far more on warfare than any other country in the world. “As much as the U.S. Navy has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, for example, in terms of tonnage, its battle fleet is still larger than the next 13 navies combined — and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners.” (Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, A Balanced Strategy, Foreign Affairs, January 2009). There is some concern recently about growth of China’s military power. The military budget for China in 2010 is about $78 billion. We spent more than that in the most recent supplemental funding for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, passed this month ($89 billion). The total military budget of China is about equivalent to what our Federal government spends on children’s health and on kindergarten through grade 12 education combined.

With 58 per cent of the nation’s budget going to the military, that leaves 42 per cent for everything else (veterans’ benefits, five per cent; education, four per cent; environment, energy and science, six per cent; transportation, three per cent; international affairs, four per cent; and so on). There is broad agreement that at least 15 per cent of our military budget goes to cold-war weapons systems that are obsolete, though they are still profitable for some. Think about what we could do if just 10 per cent of the money for swords was converted into money for ploughshares. Imagine returning it to the towns, for example. What would you do with an extra $1.3 million in Edgartown? Almost as much in Tisbury and in Oak Bluffs, $800,000 in West Tisbury, $286,000 in Chilmark, $114,000 in Aquinnah?

We always hear more about the need to defend our national interests. As we go into the fall and the political shenanigans that surround mid-term elections, please think about what our interests really are as a nation, in our state, on this Island, and as communities and families. Pork-barrel spending to enrich the few honors no one.

Bruce Nevin



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On behalf of the Possible Dreams committee, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the donors, bidders and auction goers for their generous spirit and enthusiasm demonstrated during the 32nd Possible Dreams auction on August 2 to benefit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. We would also like to thank our sponsors: American Express, Comcast, the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank and Tilton Tents and Party Rentals, as well as the Martha’s Vineyard Times, MVY Radio, Plum TV and the Vineyard Gazette for their loyal support and extensive coverage of the event. In concert with auctioneers Arnie Reisman, Paula Lyons and their Says You crew, scores of volunteers worked tirelessly to raise as much as possible for the benefit of our neighbors and friends who come to seek help from MVCS in times of personal crisis and need. To all of you, we are forever indebted. Last but not least, many thanks to the town of Oak Bluffs for hosting the auction at Ocean Park. The vistas were breathtaking, the grounds absolutely beautiful and the help and cooperation we received from all the town officials were invaluable.

Founded in 1961, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services was established to meet the needs of Island residents. As the largest human services provider on the Vineyard we believe that the health, safety and well-being of each individual and family we serve is a human right rather than a privilege. To that end, we are happy to share that thanks to all you loyal supporters the 32nd Possible Dreams auction and celebration dinner have to date raised in excess of $450,000. This welcome revenue will go far in ensuring that especially in this year of much economic uncertainty and stress, Community Services will be available for all.

So much of what Community Services does is behind the scenes and confidential. We can’t post pictures or print names of our beneficiaries, but we can share a sampling of the powerful impact of the proceeds of an evening filled with Dreams.

Your donations will provide child care so that parents can enter the work force and earn a living, support and advocate for those who find themselves in abusive situations, enable seniors and their caregivers to cope with the challenges of aging, find employment for those who are disabled, and provide an ever-expanding continuum of care for those who suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol.

As the Possible Dreams auction made dreams come true, you in turn are making all of the above and much, much more a reality for so many who thought it impossible to survive in their time of crisis.

DiAnn Ray and Wiet Bacheller

Vineyard Haven

The writers are cochairmen of the 2010 Possible Dreams auction.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Think about three independently Island resident-owned businesses you’d miss most if they disappeared. Stop in, say hello, and pick up something that will make someone smile.

Statistics say that for every $100 spent here, $68 returns to our Island economy through taxes, payroll and other expenditures helping to make it healthier. If you spend that at a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

When you support a locally-owned brick and mortar businesses (retail stores, dry cleaners, movie theatres, restaurants, etc.), which are solely responsible for paying their own rent, marketing, and other expenses, you help the people behind the counter and in the back office who are the same ones you see at the nearby grocery store, each of which has a personal stake in the health of your local economy.

Every day, and as we approach the holiday season, I encourage you to make a special effort to buy on Island! It is actually fun to see if you can get all your holiday gifts here!

Ann Hoar Floyd



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society fair staff.

For most of the last 25 years, I’ve entered yeast breads in the fair’s baked goods section. The rules and regs didn’t change much until last year, when the two yeast bread categories were consolidated into one and a few other categories were dropped. When I filled out my entry form this year, I scanned the premium list to make sure I’d got the class number right, but that was it. So last Thursday morning I was surprised when I was told that I had to submit my recipe to enter my bread in the fair. Was this to make sure that the judges weren’t allergic to any of the ingredients? No, I was told; it was so that the fair can publish a cookbook.

I wasn’t happy about this, and there were several other people grumbling at the picnic table while we prepared our entries, but I wrote my recipe down and handed it in. I’ve since heard of several capable bakers who decided not to enter anything because they took exception to the recipe requirement. Good for them!

If the agricultural society wants to publish a fair cookbook, fine, but let the Island’s bakers decide whether they want to submit recipes or not. Plenty of cooks prefer to share their trade secrets selectively, or not at all. To make an entry in the baked goods category conditional on surrendering a recipe is like making entry in the fishing derby conditional on disclosing one’s favorite fishing location.

I hope this coercive and uncalled-for requirement disappears from the rulebook before next year. It is, in more ways than one, unfair. Next year for sure I’ll read the rulebook before I get down to baking, but I won’t be happy about it. It’s too much like having to lock one’s front door because one doesn’t trust one’s neighbors.

Susanna J. Sturgis

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter is to ask for assistance in locating new volunteers for our long-term care ombudsman program. This program provides nursing and rest home residents with a means and opportunity to voice their concerns about their care and treatment.

Ombudsman volunteers are trained and certified by the executive office of elder affairs to act as advocates for nursing/rest home residents. They make weekly visits to facilities on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to observe and monitor conditions and to address residents’ complaints.

On Oct. 27, 28 and 29 there will be a training held at our office in South Dennis. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

Debbie J. Machon

South Dennis

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.