The Block Island Times

Letters to the Editor, May 25, 2013

May 27, 2013

To the Editor:

I hope now The Block Island Times will adopt a policy of considering the fragility of a person when they decide what to print in the Police Log column. Historically, The Block Island Times has been very selective about what and about whom it chooses to include in this column. You demonstrated no heart and no mind recently, and bear some responsibility for this community’s most recent loss and grief.

Christopher Warfel

High Street

Ed. note: The Block Island Times does not edit the information provided to us for the police log by the New Shoreham Police Department.


To the Editor:

As the season begins to take off, some things can fall through the cracks and I would hate to see the election of Board Members to the Block Island Heath Services fall to only those who have time for such matters. It is vital to the health care of our community that we take time and vote for who we feel will best serve this community in sickness and in health.

If you are not already a member then you would need write a check to the Medical Center for $25 for a single person, $45 for a family for membership. You will get a ballot in the mail for the board elections and then you vote and return your ballot.

Our Medical Center needs us, all of us, just as much as we need them. If you show up at the door with your four year old’s ear infection or your father who is feeling weak, do you get told, “We don’t have time for you”? No, you get seen and you or your loved ones are cared for. Let us as a community tell the Medical Center and the hardworking nurses, doctors, interns and staff, we have time for them to carefully consider and vote to provide them the support and guidance they need and deserve. The deadline for joining and voting is June 6, do it today. If you are not sure who to vote for, educate yourself about the nominees’ residency, history of support to the Medical Center and medical experience.

We need our Medical Center to thrive and this is the next step towards that goal. After that, consider making the medical center your primary care. The more residents who utilize the Medical Center for wellness visits/check-ups, the more resources, equipment and offerings the Medical Center will be able to offer. As John used to say, “one hand washes the other, they both wash the face.” We need the Medical Center just as much as they need us, all of us.

Jill Seppa

West Side 20


To the Editor:

Quite apart from the Monty-gate fiasco, the Medical Center’s Board of Directors (BIHS Board) needs a change of personnel and direction to remedy the financial bleeding which necessitated a huge dip into the Medical Center’s modest endowment. On May 13, the Board’s Secretary provided a handout (at a committee meeting which they had to cancel due to oversight) which showed that donations dropped $67,139 last year. We believe this drop was due to a protest to Monty’s abrupt dismissal, lack of trust in the Board’s judgment, inadequate financial management, lack of fundraising, stonewalling and non-responsiveness to the island’s concerns, among others. Originally, the Board of Directors asked the town to consider raising its support from $86,000 to $180,000-plus.

After negotiating a new management contract with the Board, with provisions to keep the Board’s actions open to public scrutiny and adding a Town Council member to the board, the town added $50,000 of our taxpayer revenue to its support level.

We need new, responsible and trustworthy members on the board to reverse the disastrous direction in which the board is moving. We need your vote to add to the new voices of Bill McCombe, Bob Fallon, Sue Hagedorn and Ken LaCoste recently added to the board. Please join Mary D and support our candidacy for the Medical Center’s Board.

Are you a BIHS member? You can’t vote unless you are. Uncertain? Call 466-2125.

Ken Maxwell — Corn Neck Road

Bruce Montgomery — Cooneymus Swamp Road

Peter Saxon — Corn Neck Road


To the Editor:

Even on a dark and drizzly day, the generosity of this island shines. On Saturday, May 11, as gray clouds covered the sky and runners made their way through muddy paths and antique books lovers filled the town library, many of our busy community members still made time to come and support the Early Learning Center (ELC).

Our Second Annual First Step Art Auction, held at the stunning Atlantic Inn, was blessed with supportive patrons who generously bid on beautifully decorated mirrors and frames as well as numerous donated fine art pieces. Their benevolence helped us raise close to $2,000, which will aide in the replacement and reconfiguration of our playground and buy new multi-passenger strollers. It is through these continual fundraising efforts and the overwhelming philanthropy of the town, the community, its visitors and seasonal guests that we, as a school, are able to find a balance between keeping our tuition rates affordable and not being an ever-increasing burden to the town budget.

So, the staff, board members and parents of the ELC would like to take this opportunity to express our tremendous gratitude to all of the patrons and supporters that have continually attended these countless fundraising efforts. We would also like to extend an enormous “thank you” to the Marthens’ family for graciously allowing us to use their exquisite inn (The Atlantic Inn). It was a spectacular location that, even on such a gloomy day, illuminated the items for auction. It was an incredible backdrop and Brad, Brad Jr. and Rick were so helpful and welcoming to all of us. We would also like to express our appreciation to all of the contributing artists who donated artwork and to those who work diligently to paint, draw, glue, decoupage, and beadazzle the numerous frames and mirrors. Without your creative pieces, there would be no auction.

Every year, we are more and more amazed by the big heart of this community and grateful to be a part of such a nurturing environment. It is our goal to reflect this benevolence in the classroom and strive to instill this sense of community in all our children.

Lisa Robb


Block Island Early Learning Center



To the Editor:

Thank you to all who supported our B.I. Boy Scouts by coming to get their cars washed this past Sunday. We very much appreciate Jason Howarth and his family and Interstate Navigation for once again allowing us to use Finn’s Restaurant and parking lot for our squeaky clean fundraiser. See you in the fall!

B.I. Boy Scout Troop 30


To the Editor:

For the first time in recent memory, I uttered this phrase to my daughter: “There’s a really good article in the Block Island Times.” Under any other circumstances, I’d have been delighted to read the lengthy article addressing the issue of drug and alcohol use and addiction on Block Island. I applaud the community for holding such a forum, and frankly I’m impressed that The Block Island Times itself covered the forum in what read as a much more human rather than sensationalistic article.

I grew up on Block Island. Graduated high school there, spent my formative years and a good chunk of my life there, and still hold it in a place in my heart that is occupied by no other locale. With a great deal of trepidation, I send my daughter there in the summers, and she loves it as I loved it — but I know where the focus lies for teenagers, and it is not a place where I would have my daughter linger long because it’s scary. For the both of us.

I know the community at large is not naïve on the subject. I know it doesn’t come as any big surprise that there’s hard drugs — not limited to heroin — readily available on the Island. The way I see it, if two brothers in my neighborhood can figure out how to blow up the Boston Marathon with a simple Google search, it’s a pretty safe bet that anyone can procure Xanax or Klonopin or Molly or Opana or Oxy in the same — or easier — way, no matter where they live.

You do a disservice by expecting an addict, be it alcohol or otherwise, to look and act like a skid row bum and not like the person you wave to when you drive down the Neck. Conversely, you do the addict a disservice by pigeonholing them as someone who is beyond help, “crazy,” should be ostracized, or that kicking them off the island will fix the problem at large.

In my Iife, I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of my program always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.

Asking for help is not akin to weakness, but if you are young and socialized to believe that there will be no hand to grab when you reach out for help, or that only the truly pathetic would do such a thing then the question is: Why Bother.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The drug and alcohol culture on Block Island, the tribalization, and the denial, have been the same since time immemorial. I hope, but am not hopeful, that the tragedies that have befallen my beloved island can effect change beyond one or two community meetings where an aware few recognize the problem. Truly, the only way to stop burying the young is to stop burying our heads and admit to- and recognize- the almost insurmountable obstacle that is faced by those coming of age in that community.

For that, we are all responsible.

Deirdre Winberg



To the Editor:

I write to address inaccurate reporting in last week’s article entitled “BIHS Meeting Cancelled.” The article states that posting of agendas 48 hours in advance of Block Island Health Services meetings is required “by law.” This is not correct. For 10 months, the paper has consistently stated or implied that state laws for public agencies also apply to a private 501-c-(3) organization. The incorrect reporting on this important point has sown a great deal of confusion. The Block Island Times needs to start getting this right.

Earlier this year, BIHS entered into a contractual lease agreement with the town that requires meeting agendas to be posted 48 hours in advance. The postings are to be at the medical center and at public sites maintained by the town.

BIHS takes this contractual obligation seriously and has honored it scrupulously in all respects. The agenda for the May 14 meeting was posted at the medical center early on the morning of May 10. At the same time, the agenda was emailed to three town employees. Through an error at Town Hall, the postings for which the town was responsible did not occur. The Town Manager apologized for the mistake and the apology was accepted. However, neither the Town Manager nor BIHS had the authority to waive a contractual obligation, so the meeting could not take place.

The way the article was written, readers could easily conclude that Block Island Health Services willfully failed to honor “the law.” Nothing could be further from the truth. BIHS and your readers deserve better.

Kay Lewis

Off Cooneymus Road


To the Editor:

In the statements that health center members received in the mail this week, all six candidates for the board made their case for election.

Three are running as a slate. Each describes his successful career as a lawyer, advertising executive, or airline pilot and suggests that the board needs that experience. Yet, while all strain to connect their backgrounds to the health center, it is hard to see how representing pharmaceutical and medical device companies on patent matters or creating ads and commercials for drug companies and insurers is particularly relevant to the challenges the health center faces. In fact, the interests of those firms are often at odds with those of the medical center.

In contrast, the statements by the other three candidates require no such strain. Cindy Baute had a 30-year career in nursing and healthcare administration, as well as four busy years already on the BIHS board. (In the interest of full disclosure, I worked with Cindy as a board member, having been elected twice myself, but know none of the other candidates personally.) Further, Cindy’s statement lists nine substantial accomplishments the current board achieved just since last July — showing they did not allow themselves to be distracted by the public controversy engendered by one of their decisions.

Pete Tweedy’s statement, too, is both substantive in content and restrained in tone. His experience as an accountant filled an important gap when he joined the board. He has spent long hours working to get the financial books in shape so that BIHS will never again be two years late in being audit-ready, one of the deficiencies that led the board “unanimously and reluctantly” to conclude that a new executive director was needed. That accomplishment alone, in my view, merits his reelection.

And Dr. Casazza’s statement refers not only to a long and distinguished career in medicine and medical administration, but a history of service to the medical center as a long-time member of the Physicians’ Advisory Committee. Though not a current board member, he writes knowledgeably about administrative issues like the need to adopt and implement an electronic medical record, which among other things, will add to the clinical staff’s ability to provide the first-rate care we have come to expect from them. And he also has ideas for programs that would contribute to improving the ongoing health of island residents, starting with children in the school.

So, simply comparing the work experience of the six candidates and their ideas for the health center, it is clear to me that only the two incumbents and Dr. Casazza will understand the center’s challenges at the first meeting after the election and will have ideas to deal with them.

One other point needs to be made: the slate makes a case for change in the preamble to their individual statements. We should overlook the weakness of their credentials because of the need to “re-instill island-wide trust in the decision-making and leadership capabilities of the Board” that resulted from the “public relations fiasco brought about by the actions of the BIHS Board of Directors and the interim Executive Director.” The flaw in that proposition is that the “fiasco,” which they rightly characterize as “public relations” and not substantive, was caused not by the board, but by a small group of Monty’s supporters, prominently including themselves. Building on the affection that many islanders had for Monty, they spread false statements and innuendo about what actually happened. Calling Monty highly competent, they said the board’s decision not only was unjustified, but came with no warning even though they did not really know what happened. They flooded the letters pages of The Block Island Times, which on more than one occasion printed separate letters by a husband and wife making similar points. The letters were filled with outrage but little substance beyond unfounded charges and personal attacks on board members. The group even circulated a petition threatening to withhold needed contributions from the Center until the president and secretary resigned or were replaced. And at public meetings during the period, including some BIHS board meetings, they made similar statements.

One reason the “fiasco” persisted as long as it did is that members of the board — which had acted unanimously in firing Monty — refrained from responding to even the nastiest personal attacks. The reason was that they believed the signed agreement with Monty obligated them to keep the matter confidential. So, this small group had the field largely to themselves, and as a result, they were able to drag the controversy on and on.

In my view, the choices in this election are crystal clear. The two incumbents and Dr. Casazza have relevant background and experience; in fact, it is hard to imagine better credentials. The other three simply do not. Moreover, the other three never showed much interest in the health center until last summer. And since they did become engaged, their contribution has been particularly negative and destructive. I hope health center members will reward with their votes those with experience and a demonstrated commitment to the health center.

Steve Davidson

Lee’s Ridge Road


To the Editor:

To the Block Island Community: I look forward to reading The Block Island Times — the positive things, accomplishments, good deeds, etc.

Unfortunately, recent propaganda mailed by incumbent Block Island Health Services directors requires response. Some people will say/do anything to win — and for this election, they are learning, “You can run but you can’t hide!”

I have drafted a letter to correct exaggerations and misstatements. The letter is being emailed to all BIHS board members and the Town Council. You are spared from another novel, but if anyone is interested in the truth, a copy can be requested from me at and please ... vote for change.

Monty Stover

Old Center Road


To the Editor:

For almost three decades, the Block Island Community has shown up to support its young families at the B.I. Early Learning Center’s (BIELC) Lots of Pasta dinner. This year was one of our best dinners yet. So much goes into an event like this that it’s impossible to list all the contributors, but we couldn’t have pulled any of it off without the expert event planning skills of Danielle Bates and Tracy Heinz. We need to send out a special thanks to our hosts the Abrams, Drapers, George and Karen at the Oar, the food and drink donors from the Mohegan, Eli’s, Beachead, Bethany’s, Bagel Shop, Blocks of Fudge, Red Bird and McGovern’s Yellow Kittens. The raffle donors, Jeff at Ocean Adventure B.I. Paddleboards, Cliffy at the Gas Station, Greg at Channel Marker and the good people at Koru were so generous.

The kitchen crew, lead by Dave Sniffen, with alumni parents Jamie Johnson, Chris O’Neil, Ed O’Reilly, and current parents Patrick Evans and Louis Marsella, did an outstanding job at keeping the food coming out. Bartender Henry Black and all the parents, staff and board members who served food, sold tickets and cleaned up were invaluable.

It was great seeing the B.I. eighth graders, with their peers from New York City, and the whole Crawford family reunion. Mostly we want to thank the entire community for its undying support for our school which is heartwarming and very much appreciated. We could not provide the quality daycare and preschool that our students and hard working families deserve without your support! See you again next May for more great pasta, socializing and fun.

Thanks again for coming out for the BIELC!

Sue Black

BIELC Director

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