Letters to the Editor, Aug. 3, 2012
To: the Editor—
We are writing to clarify some of the statements made in the July 28 article “Consultant: Med Ctr not in financial danger.”
The article reports that a consultant views the center as not in bad shape, quoting her as saying that “BIHS could sustain many years of small operational deficits…”
We agree that we are not in a financial crisis. This is due to the generosity of major donors who established an endowment for us in our early years of existence. The consultant in this case was not accustomed to working with endowed organizations, and our situation must have seemed incredibly fortunate in comparison to many other organizations she has advised.
We are fortunate, and additionally so to have had an Investment Advisory Committee that has served as stewards of these funds for over 20 years. Our endowment has been managed well in accordance with an investment policy developed by professionals. It has held up admirably despite the harsh economic climate that has persisted for several years. The funds managed by the Investment Advisory Committee are meant to be walled off from the operational budget managed by BIHS administration, with limited distributions being made to the operational budget. Again, this is in accordance with a professional endowment policy and plan. We receive excellent reports every quarter that review the policy, the investment allocation, and the status of the funds managed by the Investment Committee.
However, we disagree with both the consultant and the Block Island Times that a steady trend of operational deficits is acceptable. Over the past decade our average deficit has been in the neighborhood of $31,325 per year. Over the past three years the average difference between operating revenues and expenditures has been $52,585. These deficits have accumulated despite vigorous and successful fundraising, and the support of our wonderful members. When we end a year in deficit, even with increased fundraising efforts, the endowment gets tapped beyond advisable limits to pay the bills. We are not claiming that BIHS is in financial crisis, but we recognize that continual operating deficits will eventually deplete our endowment. It is not sustainable. The board must look ahead to maintain health services on the island 10 years down the road and for future generations. The Investment Committee has cautioned the board and administration against heavy endowment draws.
Two years ago, the board held a board-staff retreat to confront the pattern of operational deficits and to look to the future to describe how our organization may adapt to the huge pressures exerted by the economy and the dramatic changes happening in the delivery of health care in America. Our nation is facing the most dramatic shifts it has ever experienced in this area. We conducted a study of how health care is managed by other isolated communities with a small year-round population and a spike in seasonal residents and visitors. None of the communities studied provided a blueprint for Block Island, but we concluded that an off-island partner or partners could help us deal with the rapid changes in health care financing and the best health care practices. Our consultant encouraged us to work with Thundermist Health Care, as it is an outstanding example of forward-looking health care management.
Some of the quotations taken from the consultant’s report suggest that we were seeking a high degree of integration with Thundermist. That is one possibility she raised. However, the board’s intent was much more limited. We were exploring contracting with a non-profit organization for services that are now contracted out with profit-making companies. We hoped to save money in this way. Recently BIHS and Thundermist have agreed to discontinue this exploration due to challenges faced by Thundermist. However, the board still believes that off-island partners are essential for BIHS and we will continue that exploration as soon as we are able.
The Block Island Health Services Board of Directors
To: the Editor—
The Board of Directors of the Block Island Health Services would like to thank our members and the community for sharing their concerns and interest. We believe Monty Stover to be a good person who worked long hours on behalf of our organization. We can assure you that the medical center will continue to provide primary care, urgent care and emergency services of the highest quality, on demand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are proud of our staff and the services they provide.
We are grateful to Peter Baute, MD, for filling in at the medical center on a temporary and volunteer basis while we convene the search committee to conduct a careful and prudent search for a center administrator. We are also indebted to Board Treasurer Pete Tweedy for volunteering to assume responsibility for the financial operations of the center, again, on a temporary basis.
We take our legal and fiduciary responsibilities seriously and make every effort to act only in the best interest of the medical center. We are sensitive to actual or apparent conflicts of interest and take action that is consistent with bylaws and legal requirements. We note that the board has been unanimous in decisions made relevant to all personnel matters. It would be inappropriate for us to comment publicly on personnel matters.
Nationally, there are tremendous changes taking place in health care. It is a dynamic and evolving environment with new models, standards and oversight being put into play. BIHS needs to be proactive and prepared to cope with and manage these transformational changes.
As we move forward, we will be talking more about the changes we will be required to make to maintain compliance and to maximize our revenues.
The Board is unified and committed to the long-term stability of our organization. Our priorities must include the development of robust and engaged relationships with our members and donors. We must maximize reimbursements from third-party payers. We must protect and nurture our resources.
The Board is unified and committed to the development and maintenance of the highest quality of clinical services. This means we must identify and respond to the needs of our consumers — all of them — even those who may not share our views. We are heavily invested in providing an environment that is welcoming and encourages utilization of health care services. We will make every effort to assist our patients and their families in facilitating access to an increasingly complex and sometimes inhospitable health care system. The Board is committed to the development and maintenance of appropriate systems for collecting, storing, and sharing of clinical information in a digital age that allows us to participate in a global health care network.
The Board is unified and committed to the development of an affiliation with mainland medical networks that can help us meet our financial and clinical service goals. This does not mean we advocate a “take over” by a Rhode Island health care entity; rather, it means we want to find a way to marginalize those factors that drive up our costs and limit our quality.
We can not do this alone; we need the entire community to support these efforts. We need your help and your trust. We will make every effort to earn your trust.
The BIHS Board of Directors
To: the Editor—
We are writing to address charges leveled in letters to the Times concerning claims of conflict of interest within the BIHS board.
We note that the term “conflict of interest” usually centers on an individual having an opportunity for personal financial gain through his or her activities that might lead to putting personal gain ahead of the organization being served. There is no such conflict with regard to Dr. Peter Baute serving as an unpaid volunteer at the medical center while his wife also serves as an unpaid volunteer on the board. Dr. Baute’s service is not only unpaid; it is also highly temporary. He has no desire or intention to seek employment with BIHS.
We did consult our lawyer regarding asking Dr. Baute to help us during a transition. We were advised that no conflict whatsoever existed as long as Mrs. Baute did not participate in any votes regarding appointing, paying or terminating her husband. Mrs. Baute has done more than that. Expressing surprise when she learned of our desire to seek her husband’s assistance, she immediately offered to step down from the board if he were to serve in this manner. Our lawyer had already said this was unnecessary. In addition, she not only recused herself from the vote to ask Dr. Baute to step in, she left the room while it was discussed. She will continue to follow this practice if there are any further actions taken by the board regarding her husband.
With regard to the charge that a conflict exists between Dr. Baute serving on the Town Council, Dr. Baute has already written to the RI Ethics Commission seeking guidance in this matter. Readers of the local newspaper will recall that Dr. Baute recused himself from voting on the moped renewal agreement at the last Town Council meeting, because a portion of the funds from the new agreement would be channeled to BIHS. While waiting for an answer from the Ethics Commission, he is already acting with an abundance of caution.
Newcomers to our town may not know why Dr. Baute is such a valuable resource to BIHS and the entire community. He had years of practice management experience as the president of a surgical group in Warwick, R.I. During this time, he often filled in on the island when the regular physician was on vacation. After becoming a full-time Block Island resident in 2000, he was employed for several years as one of our physicians. Since his retirement seven years ago, he has continued to offer his services as a volunteer at the Providence Free Clinic and on Block Island, covering for emergencies in rare cases when neither of our paid providers can be on duty or when the severity of the emergency requires the assistance of another physician.
He is an outstanding physician who knows Block Island Health Services well. Block Island residents need to know of his readiness to come to our aid and should share the board’s gratitude for his willingness to protect this community without thought of remuneration.
The BIHS Board of Directors
To: the Editor—
Although I was not entirely surprised by the intense input from the community at large about the departure of James Stover from the medical center, I was a bit surprised to note that several authors have rarely crossed the threshold of the medical center yet felt compelled to protest.
So I too will speak up, not about the managerial decisions, but rather the response of the paper in the paper’s publishing of Mr. Montgomery’s offensive cartoon.
I would remind both Mr. Montgomery and the publishers that Mr. Stover was an administrator and was far removed from the realm of patient care. I was rendered speechless when a physician colleague from the mainland read the cartoon aloud to me; I found the insinuation that Mr. Stover’s departure would result in the decline of patient care incredibly foolish and insulting. I am not sure what the intent was of the paper or the artist, but I would offer that at no time in the last two weeks has any patient received less than the care they deserved or needed, nor will they ever under my watch.
I’d also like to offer that the medical center serves this entire community, possibly including the people writing the numerous letters to the editor. My suggestion for the future is that when you make such an intentional and global attack on the medical center and the board of trustees, that you consider that there are secondary victims of your maliciousness.
I must reiterate that an administrator’s job in any health care facility does not influence the patient care given by the caregivers themselves; it will serve Mr. Montgomery well in the future to keep that in mind. While I cannot speak for Dr. Miller, or Linda Closter, I will say as a professional and a new member of this community, I am offended. And while the newspaper’s featured editorial states its desire to have the medical center “thrive,” I can’t help but point out that this cartoon would indicate otherwise. Overall the reaction of the paper with its lack of judgment, kindness, and sensitivity, leaves me wondering to myself how I can work in an community that disrespects the work of the medical center at the front line.
Elizabeth Dyer, MSN, RNP
Block Island Medical Center
To: the Editor—
The Block Island Health Service is a precious resource that is much needed by island residents and visitors. From experience as a patient, I know that we are lucky to have a modern health care facility staffed by clinicians who are more than just competent.
For that reason, the current controversy triggered by Executive Director Monty Stover’s leaving the organization is disturbing. It is especially so because some of last week’s letter writers to the Block Island Times made statements using overheated rhetoric that did nothing but inflame an unfortunate situation.
Monty Stover gave many years to the health center during which he often put in long hours doing the best he could in what may be an impossible job. It is undeniable that much good was accomplished during the years he served, and that the center is in a stronger position now than it was when he took over as executive director.
At the same time, the board – all of whom serve without pay — are also seriously committed to the center and many of them put in long hours, as well. Moreover, many have prior experience that gives them insights and skills that help them deal with the center’s many challenges. As just one example, Pam Hinthorn, the board president, is a nurse practitioner and a former nurse manager and professor of nursing. As a former board member, I can attest to the understanding and dedication she has brought to her responsibilities at the center that serve us all in good stead.
Ultimately, it is the board that is legally responsible for the center’s performance. As a result, it is incumbent upon them to ask questions about the center’s finances as well as the services provided by the clinical staff and to set policies — always with input from staff — according to which the center operates. It is also true that because the center has such a lean staff, board members often perform tasks that in other organizations are usually done by employees. That may seem to some like micromanaging. But given the board’s responsibilities, those letter writers who claim the board does not let the staff do their job without interference are wrong. The reality is that the board is exercising its fiduciary duty, and if it did less it would be derelict.
Without knowing the details of why Monty left, I cannot comment on whether it was a wise decision or not. Regardless, however, it is certainly possible that the situation could have been handled in a way that could have avoided the information vacuum that gave rise to the letters in last week’s paper.
But knowing the board members and how they acted during the five years I served with them, I can also say without hesitation that this was a decision they did not make lightly. They must have believed that, considering all the facts and all the options, this was the right decision. As people who depend on the center, we owe them the benefit of the doubt until the full story emerges.
Finally, contrary to the headline on the front-page article, I know of no board member who thinks the center’s finances are so precarious as to make its demise imminent. Yet a health care organization with a budget of almost $700,000 that takes in only half that amount in patient fees has a very large hole to fill every single year. It depends on the generosity of the Town Council, a series of fundraising events, and earnings from the endowment to fill that gap. It should be obvious to all from the recent, very deep recession, that relying on those sources for so much of its annual budget is not optimal. For that reason, one of the board’s perennial preoccupations has been to develop strategies to try to increase utilization of the center in order to bring in more revenues and make the financial hole smaller. When the Affordable Care Act kicks in, the situation might improve. In the meantime, while overused during the summer months, the center has a lot of unused capacity during the off-season; and over the years, the board has searched for ways to increase off-season use. It has also discovered that although virtually all islanders have used the health center, many go off-island for services that could be provided at the center. Trying to find ways to encourage them to rely on the center for routine medical services has been a long-term goal.
The staff and board deserve our support in their efforts to continually improve the health center’s functioning.
Lee’s Ridge Road
To: the Editor—
I am deeply disturbed by the news of Monty Stover’s “resignation” and by the BI Times articles and letters that allude to less than transparent, and possibly dishonest, behavior on the part of the BIHS board. I am usually someone who does not react quickly to situations such as this; I listen, read, and try my best not to judge others harshly, especially volunteers as generous with their time and expertise as many of the board are. In this case, however, having worked with Monty at the Medical Center, I can only conclude that something is terribly wrong with the current administration of the Medical Center.
Shame on you, the BIHS Board, for bringing an elusive “issue” with very real, serious, and immediate consequences to the table at the height of the Medical Center season, when the most important job at hand is medical — not political, and not even financial. You of all groups should know how exhausting and draining this time of year is for our devoted medical staff. How dare you shift their focus from patient care for even a minute? As Mary D said, what is the rush? Is this situation so serious that it couldn’t have waited until fall, or later? I cannot imagine many problems that would warrant such a hasty, sloppy and insensitive solution. My heart goes out first and foremost to the Stover family, but also to the people who work at the Medical Center, who now must rise above the upset, do their jobs and support each other in spite of whatever just happened.
I was moved and pleased to read the many supportive sentiments so eloquently expressed with regard to Monty. I will add that it was a pleasure to work with Monty, a careful, caring, diligent, and tireless professional who managed to work well with everyone, no matter how stressful the conditions.
You owe all of us an explanation for the Pandora’s box you’ve alluded to and couldn’t wait to crack open. I, for one, am confused and angry; I’m obviously not alone.
West Side Road
To: the Editor—
For our newspaper to proudly run four extra pages of letters to the editor in a one-sided display is in my opinion unprofessional.
It is particularly blatant considering that a co-publisher and a reporter both resigned from the Med. Center board.
To allow this unfortunate development to fester for a full seven days without any kind of statement from the Med Center Board is hardly unbiased. A mere call to the board might have avoided this, even if the board’s reply to the call was “We have no statement at this time.”
Even politicians are afforded this courtesy.
West Beach Road
To: the Editor—
I am a former island property owner who sold my house in September of 2011 after my husband’s death that January.
My husband, our children, grandchildren and friends have been patients at the Med Center over the past 27 years. I, perhaps, have been the most appreciative patient there, because of the medical acuity and the quick diagnosis of my symptoms by Dr. Jan Miller. Without Dr. Miller’s realization of the severity of my condition, I would not be here today.
I was taken off to Rhode Island Hospital by helicopter and spent seven days in ICU with multiple, bilateral pulmonary emboli.
I have read with dismay of the dismissal of Monty Stover and the threat of Dr. Miller’s termination, and I wonder what could be the underlying cause — real or conjectured — of this turmoil. Could some board members feel they must make a power play or statement because they can, or because they are not fulfilled or noticed for their brilliance on Block Island? Is there a real fiscal disconnect at the Med Center? Are the doctors and staff, including Monty, incompetent? Remember: this is not Johns Hopkins or Sloan Kettering.
Block Island is a small community where each resident or visitor has his or her needs, and each makes contributions to the mental, physical and social health of the island population.
It seems to me that one, or perhaps a few, islanders might have power-play issues which not only cause dissention and divisive behavior among themselves and all island residents, but also erode the foundation and trust of the Medical Center — upon which residents, summer people like me, and visitors have all come to rely for competent, caring and professional medical care. Remember: BI is not NYC or Boston, but the Med. Center will send you there if need be.
Please get to the bottom of this nonsense before Block Island wakes up one morning with no doctors or Medical Center, nor helicopter to transport those in need of acute emergency attention.
Leslie S. Ariail
To: the Editor—
The BI Times deserves a note of gratitude for its editorial last week with regard to the ongoing controversy at the Med. Center. As referenced in the editorial, the atmosphere of paranoia which appears to be endemic and pervasive within the BIHS board serves no purpose and conjures up concerns which may or may not be factual.
However, we do know this: a very competent well-liked employee was asked to resigned in a manner that was terribly inappropriate. He was the island face of the Med. Center and in many ways was responsible for much of its success. That action alone brings shame and embarrassment, not just to the board, but to all of Block Island.
In addition, to further compound the issue, the board “then” hires a current member of the town council to assume some of the Med. Center functions. Certainly, as many letters indicated, it raises the specter of conflict of interest. In this regard, even if it does not violate the strict legal definition (and it may), it will certainly further damage the Med. Center’s reputation.
The Med. Center, having just launched its financial campaign, cannot afford to lose the confidence of island residents. Issues associated with ethical standards,or in this case the lack thereof, will undoubtedly influence public perception and financial contributions. It is not inconceivable that with no Monty, there will be no money.
To: the Editor—
I am disappointed by the readiness of some neighbors and the Times itself to condemn the hard-working and unpaid members of the Medical Center board. We all know that personnel decisions are difficult and, well, personal. They cannot be discussed publicly. None of us can know all the reasons the board and Mr. Stover took the actions they did, and that is as it should be. We should allow those reasons to remain confidential and trust the governance structure we put in place.
On several occasions in my ministry, I have had to encourage resignations of staff members. Every time I was advised by attorneys and HR professionals in my congregation to make no comment and to give no explanation. Sometimes this was spelled out in a severance agreement. I am glad that both Mr. Stover and the remaining board members have kept the matter confidential.
I remember visiting Mr. Saxon’s law firm with island eighth graders. I am sure that not every attorney makes partner, and many are encouraged thus to leave the firm. I am equally sure the firm gives no explanation to the public.
The fact that the medical center is a semi-public entity does not mean that the public would be well served by being able to interfere in personnel decisions. The most important decision any nonprofit board makes is the choice of its CEO. That decision should always have more to do with the board’s mission for the organization than with personal loyalty to individuals. A change in leadership is not a condemnation of current staff, but a decision about the direction of the organization.
If I were to resign from Harbor Church or to be asked to resign, I would hope that everyone would be so discreet — including me — that no one would know which was the case. I would be unhappy if anyone gave an explanation and annoyed if a newspaper insisted on one.
At Harbor Church we do have a committee to deal with any conflict between the pastor and the congregation. I am permitted to choose one person to represent my interests in that committee. The member I chose, the person I trusted the most to deal with personnel matters, is Kay Lewis. I wish all my neighbors would trust her with personnel matters at the medical center as well.
To: the Editor—
Thank you Monty Stover for taking the time out of your busy day to help me get me the medical care I needed but could not afford. You literally stopped what you were you doing and gave me your full attention, showing me patience, compassion and kindness that I will never, ever, forget.
With great respect and thanks,
West Side Road
To: the Editor—
Don’t all of the people with negative opinions in the current controversy ever want to have medical care on this island? I personally have used the medical center a number of times, received excellent care (as good as, if not better than, some of the care I’ve gotten in Boston for similar problems), and can’t imagine how people are more concerned with the administrative decisions that thoughtful people made with consideration and knowledge that obviously not everyone had.
I know the issues will be clarified in time as more information becomes available, but meanwhile, instead of shooting from the hip and being so concerned about what really isn’t the central problem, we have to focus on trying to understand that the goal is to have continuous quality care, made even better with difficult decisions when necessary.
If we are responsible citizens of Block Island, we have to have health services. Until we have facts, personal issues do not matter. While having opinions and input, we must relinquish governance to a duly constituted board which has, in good faith, behaved as responsibly as thoughtful, caring people do.
Lee’s Ridge Road
To: the Editor—
To those of you on the Block Island medical board who made the cruel decision to dismiss Monty Stover from his position as executive director — shame! Shame.
The selected and elected members of the medical board are supposed to be representative, with high esteem, of citizens of the B. I. community. However, your recent behavior with Monty denies that fact.
Now it is time for those of you who brought such a negative light to the Medical Center of B.I. to pack your bags and move on/out.
Dr. Shirley B. Kessler
To: the Editor—
The very sudden change in leadership at the Block Island Medical Center and the announcement by the Board of Directors that Monty Stover had resigned abruptly and without notice was a shock to everyone who knew him. Since we all know that he did not wish to resign, many, including me, are questioning the decision of the board to end his career, which began back in 1996.
I do not profess to be an expert about the duties of a Finance Director. I do know that in the last 20 years during which Monty has been in charge, I have never heard any criticism of his performance, either from the series of doctors who have come and gone, or from the many boards of directors who have been in charge.
Monty has always been a highly qualified, hardworking and intelligent director who has been successful both at fundraising and at procuring the many grants that paid for the elevator, the new X-ray machines and many other pieces of equipment badly needed at the Medical Center.
The board has stated they wish to fill Monty’s former position quickly. This is easier said than done. If an off-island person is hired, housing will be necessary at an additional cost. We all know those who look forward to living on Block Island — until they spend their first winter here!
Since Monty is an honorable man and is unable to discuss the details of his “resignation,” I hope that we will receive some explanation from the chairwoman of the board of the Medical Center. As Mary Donnelly said at the July 17 Meeting, “What has happened that we need to move so fast?” What indeed?
Grace’s Cove Road
To: the Editor—
I applaud those who want to thank Monty Stover for his 16 years of service. I’m sure it is well deserved. However, I am saddened to think that some feel it necessary to publically criticize a group that cannot defend themselves due to confidential personnel issues.
I was not privy to what happened at the executive personnel sessions, so I cannot comment on whether what happened was right or wrong, but I do know everyone on that board and know that each of them has the best interest of Block Island and the Medical Center at heart. I thank Monty for his years of service and I thank the board members for being willing to serve. And while I’m at it, I thank the Rescue Squad and the staff of the Medical Center for their tireless service to keep us all safe and well.
Is it any wonder that it is so hard to get volunteers to fill Block Island decision making needs?
To: the Editor—
I just wanted the residents of Block Island to know that we had the most enjoyable and magical time on your precious island last week.
We traveled to Point Judith from Oakville, Conn., to board the ferry for the 55-minute ride with 25 Boy Scouts with bikes in tow. We were told Boy Scouts are the only ones allowed to camp on your island. That made us feel very special.
When we arrived at the Sandsland Campground, we met two Troops already camping in two of the three sites. One, to our surprise, was from Naugatuck, Conn., our next door neighbors, and one from Greenwich, Conn. They both were leaving the next morning.
The Sandsland campground is primitive camping, no water, showers, just two port-a-lets. Almost every tent site is carved out of the brush and trees, so you feel you are part of the landscape and that you have your own little private cubby hole.
Well, enough about us. We were all so moved by the reception we got from everyone from the time we boarded the ferry till the time we left, everyone was so accommodating. At Point Judith, Brook made the ticket purchase so easy — and what was so unique about it, was that Brook was on the island handling tickets for our return trip.
When we boarded the ferry, the boat crew took our bikes from us and gently placed them in a secure area. Upon arrival, our first stop was the visitors’ center, where a woman with a young girl helped us with what to see and do. I asked the young girl what she recommended we see, since most of our Scouts were near her age, and without any hesitation, she said the clay cliffs.
After settling in, our first trip was to the north lighthouse to be greeted by a youngster who saved our lives with refreshments under a grass umbrella. After cycling almost five miles on the hottest day of the year, he was our oasis in the desert.
Walking out to the lighthouse, we encountered so many diverse people from all over the world. Everyone had a different story of why they were there, and we enjoyed every one of them.
We continued our journey from the lighthouse up that killer hill to find the clay cliffs. We stopped an elderly woman with blonde hair in a green cab van. She was the sweetest direction-giver I have ever met. She went as far as to say that everyone loved the Boy Scouts coming to the island. Then it was off to the public beach for a good protected swim and a nice shower.
The most accommodating were the Gibbons family who live on the island; they supplied us with propane to cook with and the use of their front yard hose for water.
The next day we headed up that really big and long hill to the Southeast Lighthouse. The people at the lighthouse broke us into two groups for a tour.We all wanted to go outside and walk around, but they said the rails were not safe. They are having a hard time raising money for repairs.
Our next stop was the Mohegan Bluffs and another oasis, a young entrepreneur selling lemonade. After the Bluffs, off to the beach with the Painted Rock, this was a big hit with the Scouts. To the west was the love shack made of driftwood and anything that washed up on shore. But to the east, they stumbled on the nude beach, which they witnessed from afar, but they will have a good story to bring home to the Scouts who could not make the trip.
Heading back to town, to make my point again, a family supplied a bench with a sign “Sit your Butt and Take a Putt,” we took them up on their offer and had a great time resting and putting around.
Heading back to Old Harbor with the promise of getting ice cream, we enjoyed the precious few moments speeding down that huge hill that it had taken forever to come up. This was part of the nicest and worst thing that happened to us. When you are traveling with 25 scouts on bicycles, some go really fast and some go slow and there are many spread out in the middle. When we got into town, one scout stopped at Rebecca’s statue, short of our meeting point at the Visitors Center bike rack. This scout, who just turned 11, was lost and started to cry. The owner of Rebecca’s took him inside his restaurant and made him a grilled cheese sandwich with fries and a drink. He called the police and we were able to walk a few hundred feet to pick him up.
The next day we all went to eat at Rebecca’s and offer our thanks.
So I don’t know what you are putting in your water or food to make people so nice, but continue doing it. At your shops, rental people, bait shops, restaurants, marine institute, Historical Society and grocery stores, everyone was so nice and made us feel so special. We arrived on your island at 78 speed (Old Victrola speed) and left at 33 1/3 (long Playing record). I know many of the adults are coming back with their spouses and the scouts want to come back with their families.
Troop 140, Oakville, Conn.
To: the Editor—
I’d like to thank Peter Wood for presenting himself as the Ted Knight to my Rodney Dangerfield in our island’s own version of the movie “Caddyshack.” If you’re not familiar with this classic 80s film, it bears a viewing, as the dynamic between the characters played by the aforementioned actors accurately parallels mine and Mr. Wood’s blossoming relationship. Peter Wood exemplifies to a T the sort of elitist who believes that their own singular experience is all that matters and that others who don’t subscribe to his particular brand of “appropriateness” have no place here. Thank you, Mr. Wood, for embodying a level of self-importance that provides you with the audacity to believe your one day’s spoilled beach walk is more significant than the survival of our island’s business community.
To address Mr. Wood’s insults one at a time, I’d like to begin with the least offensive and work my way back toward the top. First off, Mr. Wood condescendingly points out that I spend considerable time patting myself on the back. You’re damn right I do. I’ve worked tirelessly to provide this island with a safe, enjoyable place to experience live music and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. And I’ll again pat the local police on their backs too. Under Chief Carlone’s direction, they’ve helped us work towards creating as safe an environment as possible.
Second, I feel Mr. Wood owes an apology to Peter Muzsi of Greenwich, Conn. Peter is an organizer of the “Mohegan Bash” who also penned a well written letter addressing this subject. He’s pejoratively called Mr. Muzsi and his constituents “drunks.” Because they were consuming alcohol, “cavorting to amplified music” and “relieving themselves from a variety of orifices,” Mr. Wood has positioned himself as judge, jury and executioner when it comes to deciding what is “appropriate” and what is not. I would like to applaud Mr. Wood’s ability to “hold it,” as I’m certain he would rather abruptly curtail his own beach walk, turn around and endure the “bit of a hike” back around the rocky point and up the bluff’s steps to the nearest restroom rather than answer the call of nature on a deserted beach should the need arise.
Perhaps the most outstanding insult, however, is Mr. Wood’s metaphor, which either directly or indirectly refers to me as a “turd in the punchbowl.” Appropriate indeed sir! Way to keep it classy! And thank you for lending more credence to my “Caddyshack” reference, as the offending object in that film was a Babe Ruth candy bar haphazardly tossed into the country club swimming pool.
To be honest with you, Mr. Wood, I would rather be a considered a “turd” by you and those like you than what might pass for a gleaming, upright pillar of society in your eyes. Although I would in my defense argue that at least I’m a “polished turd.” And please, Peter, don’t back pedal and rebut that you weren’t referring specifically to me or other folks like Peter Muszi who hold similar values. Have the decency to be a grade-A jerk and say it to my face the next time you sneak in to Captain Nick’s to pick up your sushi. You may not get the reaction you were expecting though. I’ll most likely smile and offer to buy you a beer in hopes that it loosens you up enough to dislodge the incredibly large stick that seems to have been residing in one of your major (as you so charmingly put it) “orifices” all of these years. How’s that for a metaphor?
To: the Editor—
This is a public safety response to the letter by Mr. Peter Muzsi of Greenwich, Connecticut, regarding the so called “Mohegan Bash.” The area that Mr. Muzsi and friends chose to hold an unlawful, unlicensed liquor and entertainment event for his 400 or so closest personal friends is extremely remote, and it would be nearly impossible to conduct a rescue call there if some of the people in attendance — who were drinking from morning on — became ill or injured. Public safety also has no way to communicate because our communications system does not operate in that area.
As it turned out that day I had to take a group of officers away from other duties to respond and watch over that group because some of them refused our reasonable and polite requests to leave the alcohol and coolers off of the beach for safety. Our Volunteer Rescue Captain was very concerned for their safety and for the fact that they could not respond to the area if something went wrong. That was the reason for the police presence: their safety.
I have spoken to Mr. Muzsi in past years about this event, which has been hidden from the town with organizers collecting money, burying kegs of beer, and going to extreme lengths to be certain that the town was uninformed and therefore unprepared for any emergencies. In my previous conversation, he denied any knowledge of this event, and then held it unbeknownst to the community anyway. The lack of respect to Block Island is apparent, and he seems to feel entitled to do whatever he pleases without any regard even for the police chief’s concerns. There are good reasons for the laws and practices that are in place.
We cannot have 400 people getting intoxicated in these remote areas and just hope that everything turns out alright. What if several other large groups of friends decide to hold unlawful events in various areas surrounding the town? What would Mr. Muzsi think if a large group of drinkers showed up in Greenwich, Connecticut, disregarded all of the laws in place, and decided to hold a party from early morning?
I have a suggestion for Mr. Muzsi and company, who claim to love Block Island but show utter contempt for the reasonable laws and public safety practices that are in place. If you truly wish to support Block Island, why not have your event at one of our hotels that has a liquor license and outdoor entertainment? Our businesses would be delighted to host a group of people that planned on staying over and having a celebration. Our businesses need these types of gatherings to survive and only have 10 weeks to make enough money to stay afloat. I suggest, Mr. Muzsi, that as you appear to be at least in your 30s, it is time to grow up and act like a responsible adult. Another thing you may consider is to not write a letter admitting to intentionally breaking the laws of the State of Rhode Island for the past 14 years, and then have the gall to request an audience with the town to continue the unlawful conduct. You certainly will not get clearance from this office.
Chief Vincent T Carlone
New Shoreham Police Dept.
To: the Editor—
Bill Bendokas was the first resident I met 42 years ago when I flew to Block Island on his newly-established New England Air. He was in his early 20s and said he hoped to establish a year-round service.
By dint of hard work and perseverance, he succeeded where many another might have failed. From the days of having a single plane, and ever contending with New England weather and seasonal ridership, his airline became a necessary and reliable service that Block Island has come to take for granted.
Bendokas is the real deal: the prototype of a hard-working, self-reliant, successful businessman. Over the years he has created good jobs for many on Block Island and in Westerly, and this without government subsidies or handouts. In addition to year-round scheduled flights, he has personally flown many medical emergencies to the mainland. It is hard to imagine life on Block Island without the services of New England Air.
This is all about to be undermined by a federal $900,000 pay-off to an airline owned by a well-connected Massachusetts state senator and to a Puerto Rican tourist company for the establishment of service from T.F. Green Airport to Block Island. Don’t think this government-subsidized outfit will be flying to Block Island in the off-season. And good luck in getting them to allocate any portion of the $900,000 slush fund to flying you off in a medical emergency. This political pay-off will have adverse consequences for Block Island. What an outrage.
Corn Neck Road
To: the Editor—
Imagine my surprise to learn that an aircraft carrier is on a Block Island Club mooring and that Ted Merritt is her captain. Concerned that he could actually back through the location of the proposed quarter-acre oyster farm, I immediately set out to see how I could have missed such a big vessel. Though I searched for many hours, I finally had to conclude that there actually was no aircraft carrier in the Great Salt Pond. Yes, I am exaggerating, but it seems that this may be something Harbors, Shellfish Commission, and I can have in common. I’ve tried all types of approaches for eight years and have been rejected just about 100 percent of the time, so I was thinking that this approach could work.
So what is their problem? I estimated the distance from what I believed to be the Block Island Club’s closest mooring to the proposed oyster farm at 160 feet. The only vessel I saw moored by the Block Island Club was approximately 22 feet. This means that this vessel would have to back up seven times its length to enter the proposed farm. Not to mention all that the vessel would back up over is water and lease markers. Hmmm, seems like another episode of Block Island misinformation and character assassination. I don’t have the class of Mr. Monty Stover so I am fighting back rather than walking away.
Taxpayers have a right to expect good government. Harbors and the Shellfish Committee don’t just affect their specific areas of responsibility, but by their actions infect other parts of Town Government and our community with their misinformation. They issue opinions that show that they are not interested in facts or correcting their Byzantine policies. It’s impossible to forget the statements by the Harbor Master that aquaculture in our requested area is like planting tomatoes in Rodman’s Hollow, and that no one should be able to profit from the Great Salt Pond. Would that include mooring service companies, kayak and paddle board companies, tour companies, restaurants that buy seafood, the workers employed, the Shellfish Commission, and the Harbors Department? As much as I have disagreements with the Harbor Master, I am positive that he did not come up with those statements on his own. It’s not within his character. So what is this really all about?
Sun Farm Oysters
To: the Editor—
I would like to thank George Dodge for all the time and effort he must put in to make “Blues on the Beach” such a success.
It always makes people feel good to be able to see their friends, family and neighbors at the beach and feel blessed to be able to listen to fun music, and at times dance to the beat. Thank you, George.
Sherry Fisher Carley
West Side Road
To: the Editor—
From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all the Block Island and mainland businesses and individual donors who, along with church members and community leaders, made our 2012 Harbor Church Fair and Auction such a smashing success and a really fun event. If I listed the 21 island restaurants who donated food or all the artists and artisans who created beautiful art for us, or all the companies both on and off the island who gave us their goods and services, there wouldn’t be any space left in the paper for anything else.
Harbor Church is such a vital fixture in our community, not only for worship and weddings and Bible study, but for community meetings, concerts, our Friday night Soup and Song, our island food pantry space, the Rec Center, Vacation Bible School and Sunday School to show our children how much they are loved by God and by us, youth gatherings, Boy Scouts, Skype access to Butler Hospital, and so much more.
I’d personally like to thank Rev. Steve Hollaway for his devotion to, and seemingly indefatigable efforts on behalf of, our beloved church and fair, and for always keeping his eye fixed, as best we humans can, on the example of Christ, a highly misunderstood figure who was loving but who also stirred things up from time to time when he thought things were broken.
A heartfelt thanks, also, to Rheba McKernan, Martha Ball, Doug Michel, Fred Nelson, Sally Marte, Sue Ventris, Sonny Kern, Margie Comings, Gene Davis, Ellen Jacke, Will and Penny Young, Bill Penn and Sally Stephens, and all their team members, especially our visitors from Zion Lutheran Church in Bristol, Conn., and Florham Park Fellowship, from N.J., who really stepped up to net the church roughly $16,000. May God bless and keep you all!
2012 Fair Chairperson
To: the Editor—
On behalf of American Legion Post 36, I would like to thank all of the folks who generously supported our Annual Family Picnic, with special thanks to Ed McGovern and the Yellow Kittens, Rita Draper at the 1661 and George at the Oar, Stan and Cindy Geer at the Depot, Mary Jane Balser at the Block Island Grocery, Cliff Payne at Payne’s Dock and Rebecca’s. Also thanks to Mark Scortino at Captain Nick’s for the sound system.
Thanks to all the help and delicious desserts that the Legion Auxiliary provided, and thanks to the Post 36 members for cooking all the great food.
Most of all, a special thank you to everybody who came and enjoyed a very successful afternoon of food and fun. This event supports Post 36 Block Island and our military and veteran charities.
American Legion Post 36 Block Island