Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In response to the advertisement announcing the endorsement of Neal Maciel for sheriff by the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union representing the union workers of the Dukes County sheriff’s department, in the Oct. 21 issue of the Martha’s Vineyard Times, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify who this organization represents in the Dukes County sheriff’s office.

Out of the over 45 individuals currently employed by the sheriff’s office, only 18 employees are members of the union, and only a minority of these employees were ever approached by their shop steward for their opinion or agreement to endorse Mr. Maciel for the office of sheriff. As a non-union employee of the Dukes County sheriff’s office, I was approached by a union member, who expressed his unsolicited displeasure with the union’s decision to endorse Mr. Maciel for sheriff without the membership’s consent. The union worker stated he had not been approached for his opinion and had conducted his own poll revealing a majority of the members had not been surveyed. In my opinion the union did not fairly represent the interests of Dukes County sheriff’s office union workers by endorsing Mr. Maciel on their behalf.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Maciel’s record as a state police officer and his decision to run for sheriff, but this endorsement, in my opinion, does not constitute a true picture of the opinions or wishes of the union and non-union employees of the Dukes County sheriff’s office.

As a 20-year veteran of the Dukes County sheriff’s office, I have been privileged to witness the inspiring work Michael McCormack has accomplished during his tenure as our sheriff. Through his commitment to community policing, community corrections, communications and correctional practices he has conducted himself with integrity, respect and professionalism. I am proud to join many of my colleagues in supporting Sheriff Michael McCormack’s campaign for re-election.

Robert Ogden

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Members of the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard are appalled at the secret campaign cash we are seeing in this election. It should have no place in our American democracy. Huge sums of money from secret sources are going into campaign advertising. Much of it is negative advertising that poisons the airways and undermines the truth.

Special interests are spending millions and millions of dollars in this election and it threatens to drown out the voices of individual voters. And because of changes in the law which hasn’t any disclosure requirements — even foreign government corporations could be funding these ads.

The League of Women Voters has been calling attention to secret money being spent on political advertising for months, but the U.S. Senate has refused to act to require disclosure, even after the House of Representatives passed a strong disclosure bill.

These activities are detrimental to our democracy. Voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. The League of Women Voters calls on all candidates to disavow secret advertising and asks our local media outlets not to accept ads unless the names of the true donors are made public. Also, we encourage all voters to take this form of negative campaigning as false advertising. You do not know the source of their funding.

Remember, vote on Nov. 2. Every vote is important.

Carole Early

Vineyard Haven

The writer is a member of the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Three statewide ballot questions will hurt people, in very concrete ways.

Question one, which will repeal the tax on alcohol, will not only eliminate about $110 million from our state budget, but will eliminate state funding programs that address substance abuse. It will disproportionately promote more alcohol consumption among young people, as their consumption is more price-sensitive. We are already losing too many of our youth to alcoholism and other addictions.

Question two will repeal Chapter 40B, the state’s key affordable housing law, which promotes privately-built, affordable housing and is responsible for more than 80 per cent of most of the affordable housing built in Massachusetts over the last decade. Also, it promotes a fairer distribution of that housing and avoids building all affordable units in isolated neighborhoods. The need for affordable housing on the Vineyard is well known.

Question three will cut the sales tax by more than half. This will add to the state’s deficit by more than $2.5 billion. When added to an existing $2 billion deficit projection, discretionary state spending will be cut by nearly 40 per cent! State support for education, police, social services will have to be slashed. Further, this will seriously risk our bond rating, raising debt service obligations.

Our sales tax is relatively fair and progressive. About half the states have approximately the same rate as we do, or higher, and unlike Massachusetts, about half do not exempt food. It is not broadly understood, but when all state and local taxes and fees are taken together as a percentage of income, our overall tax burden is already well below the national average. And, while one might not expect large business associations to oppose tax cuts, the three largest ones in Massachusetts oppose question three. Question three is a reckless proposal.

So we must vote no on all three ballot questions.

Julia Burgess

Oak Bluffs

The writer is executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I love Martha’s Vineyard. I love living here primarily because of the natural beauty but secondly because of the people who live here. I cherish our year-round community of people including nurses, doctors, teachers, policemen, artists, professionals, farmers, chefs, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs. But Martha’s Vineyard is in danger of losing these people because of a critical shortage of affordable housing. I don’t want that to happen. Martha’s Vineyard needs more affordable housing. Chapter 40B makes affordable housing happen. This law has been used to create affordable housing here on the Vineyard, such as Island Elderly Housing and Island Cohousing. I agree that Martha’s Vineyard needs more than Chapter 40B to address its affordable housing crisis. However, it makes no sense to repeal a law that can help create more housing when housing is so desperately needed. Repealing this law now will unquestionably frustrate the creation of affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard. This Tuesday, Nov. 2, please go to the polls and vote no on question two.

Caroline Flanders

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Question two on the ballot this Nov. 2 would repeal our state’s main affordable housing law. We hope you will join us in voting against this reckless effort. We cannot let this important law be taken away from our seniors and working families, the very people who keep our towns and businesses going on a daily basis.

Please join us in taking a stand to protect our residents, particularly those most vulnerable in this economic recession. The affordable housing law is responsible for about 80 per cent of all affordable homes and apartments built on Martha’s Vineyard since the early 1990s, including homes sold by Habitat for Humanity, Good House Associates and the Island Housing Trust, and rental apartments managed by Island Elderly Housing, Community Builders at Morgan Woods, the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Housing Authority, and the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority. These are high-quality homes and apartments that fit into the Island community and its neighborhoods, and provide home ownership and rental opportunities to hard-working families and individuals who would otherwise never be able to afford to live on the Vineyard.

We urge you to vote no on question two next Tuesday.

Philippe Jordi

West Tisbury

The writer is executive director of the Island Housing Trust. Also signing this letter are Jessica Burgoynne, Tony Nevin, Neal Sullivan, David Vigneault and Ann Wallace.


Editor, Vineyard Gazette:

On election day, I urge voters to mark yes on question two, and defeat Chapter 40B, the state statute that benefits developers and is responsible for the construction of high-density housing and the consequent destruction of neighborhoods all across the commonwealth.

No matter what they say, Chapter 40B is not about affordable housing; it is about allowing developers to bypass local zoning bylaws and build in areas deemed unbuildable by those same bylaws. The developers have gotten very rich at the expense of the rest of us. Chapter 40B is 40 years old, and has, in its four decades, been responsible for infilling, congestion, reduced real estate values and higher real estate taxes.

The more you learn about Chapter 40B, the less you will like it.

Vote yes on question two next Tuesday.

Kristen Henshaw

Vineyard Haven

and Wakefield


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

When I first got stoned in the late 1960s, I could never understand why the weed was considered evil and was illegal. The drug produced such a sense of peace and love. Some 40 years later, I still don’t get it. There are so many other legal drugs that are so much more toxic — alcohol and tobacco for starters. Why? Because it’s big business. And ironically, the laws in this country seem to be gradually easing regarding marijuana mainly because of monetary motives: California’s deficit, and our state finally realizing that enforcing the “law” ties up police time and crowds our courts and jails. I wonder, for example, how much it costs to send those incredibly irritating fly-over helicopters to the Vineyard every August, disturbing our peace and tranquility. That would be money better served helping those people whose lives have become unmanageable due to addiction to other, more lethal substances. I haven’t been stoned for awhile now, but I’ll still vote yes on question four. As the late, great Peter Tosh once proclaimed: “Legalize it, don’t criticize it.” Ya mon!

Peter Simon



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Edgartown Library building committee:

I think the Edgartown Library should remain downtown on Water street. Here are my suggestions to make it happen.

First, the Warren House. Remove the addition from the back. Bring up to code the plumbing and electrical, insulate the back wall and rebuild. Restore the front facade. Put this work out to bid and pay for it with a loan secured by the property. Put it on the market and sell it. It should bring $3 million. Otherwise, the Warren House is a $3 million loss.

Second, a new addition. Excavate beside the Carnegie building to street level and make a parking garage with the driveway and floor at street level. Build over this garage a 70 by 65-foot building at the same level as and attached to the present library, one floor with an attic with four dormers. This would be 4,550 square feet of floor space, not counting the attic. This adds up to a 13,500-square-foot library with second-floor storage. The 70-by-65 building would begin at the back of the original Carnegie building and extend 70 feet back to the end of the present building, and 65 feet across the back line parallel to the street. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Joyce Hall



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The board of directors of the Friends of Sengekontacket Inc. would like to publicly acknowledge the retirement from the board of longstanding member Albert H. (Hap) Hamel. Hap has been instrumental in leading our organization, serving as president from 2006 to 2007 as well as clerk from 2002 to 2004. Equally important is the quiet, thoughtful and thorough way he has provided guidance and leadership in every activity we have undertaken during his nine-year tenure on the board. Hap is a concerned citizen who communicates how to help. In 2004 he wrote a comprehensive neighborhood guide on how to care for property in the Sengekontacket watershed, with recommendations for individual responsibility in addressing water quality; and in 2009 he explained in the newspapers how parking on the beach grass leads to the eventual destruction of the dunes that protect the pond. Hap has labored on State Beach, digging postholes and posting carry in/carry out posters and planting beach grass. He has faithfully attended barrier beach task force meetings promoting development of the beach management plan for State Beach as well as enhanced county stewardship of the beach and pond. Hap has devoted hours to some of the more mundane yet essential tasks of board management; he conducted a painstaking internal audit of the first 15 years of FOS financial records, and he facilitated the summarization of FY10 accomplishments for the annual meeting. During our strategic planning efforts Hap’s voice was the logical, methodical and practical one. Most important, by his steadfastness and dedication Hap demonstrates how best to love Sengekontacket Pond — work tirelessly among the community to preserve and protect this great Vineyard resource.

Terry Appenzellar

Oak Bluffs