Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Amanda Hutchinson and I were neophyte beekeepers together. I knew her peripherally, living in the same town, but hadn’t spent any time with her until we both attended a beekeeeping workshop last April. Since we both had a few trepidations about the whole enterprise, we decided to try it together. We each bought hives and set them up at her place. I can’t say our first, and so sadly, only, as it turns out, season of beekeeping was a tremendous success but we did harvest a little honey, leaving most for the bees. We reveled in the structure of a colony, the industry with which each bee — worker, drone or queen — had its specific tasks to perform in such harmony. Amanda was definitely a worker bee (though she could spot the queen like nobody’s business!); did anyone worker harder than she? We humans seem to have a harder time living in harmony but Amanda certainly tried to make life easier for everyone she met. May she rest in peace.

Mitzi Pratt



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

After arguing for thousands of years, believers and nonbelievers both appear happily convinced the other is a fool for not seeing the light. That’s okay and reconcilable . . . for things religious and philosophical. Man, it seems, was made to ponder and never meant to learn certain metaphysical, unattainable truths. But should this same kind of apathetic dismissiveness (based on the preconceived notion of never being able to know for certain what the truth is) go unchallenged for things more secular, by people who designed and built a government to serve themselves? Is truth really so unimportant or inconsequential or unattainable to our democracy in fighting, for example a murder, or worse, high crime and treason? Our founders didn’t think so, who felt there should be a third branch of government: the Department of Justice. Properly run investigations follow and don’t ignore established methodology and protocols; examining all evidence, (controlled demolitions), no matter how inconvenient, including testimony under oath (not coerced) and cross- examining contradictions to find out who’s lying and why.

Proud 9/11 “conspiracy theorists” such as myself feel compelled to point out that the objection to the official 9/11 Commission Report is not about the conclusion reached but how (improperly) the conclusion was reached. By short-circuiting such highly evolved, agreed-upon, established principles we undermine and compromise not just the conclusion being sought but the very integrity of the report. Was it sloppy and amateurish or criminally intentional? In either case, only a proper and independent, unbiased investigation (versus a top-down “report”) can help unite our country. (See The more our mainstream media tries to whitewash this, downplaying all ramifications, the more serious it becomes. We are the jury; let’s follow the rules and make sure the rules get followed. Talk it up, not down.

Nick van Nes

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following is the text of testimony submitted this week by Cape and Islands Sen. Dan Wolf to Massachusetts insurance commissioner Joseph Murray:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding the 2012 homeowners’ insurance rate changes as proposed by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association (FAIR plan). As the state senator for the Cape and Islands, I would like to address the proposed rate changes before you which would raise homeowners’ insurance rates for my constituents by more than six per cent this coming year. This would be in addition to an almost 25 per cent rate increase in 2006. If this hike is approved, rates on the Cape and Islands will have risen almost 44 per cent in 10 years. This rate hike should not be approved as proposed, because the process in determining the rates is not fully transparent and crucial information in how the rates were determined has not been released. Without a transparent process, it is impossible to justify this or any other rate increase to my constituents. I am also concerned that the risk assessments for the Cape and Islands are incorrect. I understand that the rates in my district are higher because of the potential for hurricanes and coastal flooding, however other meteorological events that appear to contribute to our rates are inappropriately applied. Due to maritime influences and the class of soil found in my district, we are not susceptible in the same way as the rest of the state to thunderstorms, tornadoes, widespread rainfall and subsequent flooding or ice storms. I speak not just as someone who has lived on the Cape for over 30 years to witness the lack of these events, but also as a successful entrepreneur whose entire business is dictated by meteorological events.

Data supports Cape and Islands rates to include hurricane and coastal flooding risks, but does not support the risk inclusion of other meteorological events. However, it appears that these events are also factored into our risk assessment. This is not a reflection of our actual risk and I believe is falsely contributing to our high rates. I also question the impact of the reinsurance market on our rates and the role they play in this rate increase proposal. Lack of clear information about the role of the reinsurance market reinforces the need for clearer and more transparent information for ratepayers about how their rates are determined and why this rate increase is necessary.

Lastly, looking at historical loss ratios, it is hard to make sense of the rate structure from the Cape and Islands perspective. Over the years, my district has had a relatively low amount of claims paid out but consistently high premiums. In fact, more recently, the private insurance market has started writing policies in my district again, suggesting that there is potential for significant profits to be made, below current FAIR plan rates. In summary, I believe that with the actual exposure of the Cape and Islands, a lack of transparency in the rate structuring to suggest otherwise, and additional competition in the market, all point to a rate decrease being a more appropriate and competitive recommendation for the FAIR plan and not a rate increase.

Thank you for your attention to this most important matter for the Cape and Islands and for the entire commonwealth.

Dan Wolf

North Harwich


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard would like to thank all those who helped to make our annual Robert Burns Dinner such a success.

We’d especially like to thank those who contributed to our scholarship fund auction and raffle.

Thanks to the Harbor View for a great meal, chef Shawn Sells for delicious Allen Farm haggis, Jack Wildauer for his awesome sound system and Trip Barnes, auctioneer, for again humorously separating us Scots from our money, no easy feat. See you all next year.

Steve Ewing