The Block Island Times
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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 26, 2012

Oct 29, 2012

To: the Editor—

On October 6 I went to the Candidates’ Night because I had a job to do there. I had already made up my mind as to who I was going to vote for.

However, after listening to the candidates’ opening statements, their list of qualifications and the answers to their questions, I found to my surprise that, in at least one case, I changed who I am voting for.

This year we have a very different group running for office, so I hope those who haven’t considered attending the Candidates’ Night on October 30 will give it serious thought.

Donna Corey

Southwest Point

To: the Editor—

We want to know what you think. The Block Island Residents Association (BIRA) has posted two new documents on its website (www.bi-ra.org). The first is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Public Notice of Deepwater Wind’s permit applications to construct and maintain five wind turbines off the southeast coast of Block Island, a cable from the turbines to the island and a cable from the island to the mainland. The second is the Executive Summary of the Environmental Report Deepwater Wind submitted in support of their permit applications.

We ask that you take a look at these reports and let us know your opinion on the reports and the project. You can express your opinion by participating in the poll BIRA has set up on its website. The public comment period for the Public Notice on Deepwater ends November 19, so we ask that you complete the poll by November 12.

We thank you for your participation in the poll.

Bill Penn

President, BIRA

To: the Editor—

The November 6 election day ballot will include two questions of great importance to Rhode Island and Block Island voters: A “YES” vote on Question 5 would approve a $20 million Clean Water bond; and a “YES” on Question 6 would authorize another $20 million bond for Environmental Management.

The Clean Water bond includes $12 million for wastewater treatment plant improvements and $8 million for drinking water system improvements. These would protect the quality of the state’s local rivers, streams, beaches and fishing grounds.

The State Environmental Management bond provides funding for open space, recreation and farmland: $4.5 million for farmland protection; $2.5 million for local open space; $2.5 million for state parks and beaches; $5.5 million for local park acquisition and improvements; $1 million for historic parks; and $4 million for Narragansett Bay and watershed restoration.

The Block Island Land Trust was created in 1986 by state legislation shortly after the first open space bond was approved. Throughout this 26-year period, we have relied on state bond funds to match and leverage local conservation funding for many important acquisitions. These projects include Fresh Pond, the island’s largest freshwater body, and its scenic bordering meadows and wildlife habitat; Mosquito Beach; and Ball-O’Brien Park, which continues to evolve and increase in its importance to the community as it provides important recreational opportunities on the island. Bond funds have helped us to preserve forever many of the unique places, views, and species that characterize Block Island. In addition, they assist other organizations to do the same throughout Rhode Island.

Periodically, the Land Trust polls the island’s residents to track attitudes about conservation and priorities for acquisition. Our most recent survey, conducted last year, showed that there is strong local public support for continued open space acquisition and protection (83 percent), which echoes statewide approval for open space bonding measures.

It should be noted that conserving open space has many economic benefits on both the local and state level: it is a capital investment whose value increases over time; it contributes to “smart growth” and reduces costs for infrastructure and municipal services; it preserves and supports traditional industries like farming and forestry that contribute to the economy; and it enhances the tourism and recreation industries.

Conservation bonding continues to be important to all of us, now and in the future. We are therefore urging voters to vote “YES” on Questions 5 and 6.

Barbara MacMullan, Chair

Block Island Land Trust

To: the Editor—

In defense of trees:

A mature, deciduous tree delivers 100 pounds of oxygen into the atmosphere and absorbs 60-plus pounds of carbon dioxide every year.

Barbara Burak

Great Swamp

To: the Editor—

We read with much interest the thoughtful letter from the homeowners on Southeast Road last week regarding the proposed Block Island wind farm.

As concerned homeowners on the island, we and many others have been engaged in this conversation for the past four years.

As neighbors, we appreciate that they took the time to state their commitment to both renewable energy and safeguarding the beauty of Block Island.

There are many on the island who have not voiced their sentiments publicly and may think it is too late to do so. It is not!

The project is not yet financed and is not yet permitted. The Army Corps of Engineers is right now accepting public comment. They have been given only 45 days for the entire review period for a gigantic document.

Email Mike Elliott at the Army Corps with your comments and request an extension of the 45-day review period for the 1,000-plus-page document submitted to the Army Corps for review.

His email is michael.j.elliott@USACE.army.mil

Maggie and Michael Delia

Whale Swamp Road

To: the Editor—

I am writing to ask for your vote for Town Moderator. With Election Day fast approaching, Block Island voters are facing important choices. Only one thing is for certain: changes are coming. Our new Town Council will face many challenges affecting our community’s financial future and our tax bills.

Block Island is one of only 16 towns in Rhode Island to still hold annual Town Financial meetings, a great example of democracy in action, where we as the voters have the opportunity to decide (and share the responsibility for) our town’s budget, item by item.

Such an important process requires leadership. I believe I posses the knowledge and skills to keep our meetings on track, the level of discourse high and the debate civil, regardless of the issues or the sometimes passionate opinions regarding them.

If elected, I promise to consider buying a suit, maybe.

Fred Leder

Beacon Hill


This letter was sent to the Town Council and copied to the Times:

I am writing in response to Howell Conant’s public attack during the October 17 Town Council meeting’s discussion of the IT Services contract. Howell espouses consensus building and fairness, but his record speaks to the contrary.

With respect to the specific attack points made by Howell and Chris Warfel at this meeting:

1. Howell and Chris both charged that I had written the proposal specifications and further, that I should be precluded from bidding. The charge is simply false. Further, the “specifications” are actually a “menu” of possible municipal technology services that could be requested under the contract vehicle. The request states that actual services will be authorized through the town’s normal planning and budget processes.

2. Howell stated that the town doesn’t need an IT Services contract at all, and that a more flexible approach would be to contract for technology projects on a case by case basis. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this approach would put the town’s technology infrastructure and operations at risk. Whether the town chooses to continue to engage my company as its IT Services provider or not, the town unequivocally needs either an IT Services contract or, alternately, an IT Services department. To say otherwise would be analogous to saying the town doesn’t need a finance director, and could contract for each audit, financial statement, or payroll individually. I express this opinion as the town’s duly engaged technology management professional, whose expertise on technology management issues has been recognized by the U.S. Navy, four large corporations, and several Rhode Island municipalities.

3. Chris Warfel stated that there are people (unnamed) that believe “IT costs are exorbitant,” “service is not that great,” and the vendor is “not that responsive.” Both Howell and Chris have analyzed my invoices for the past several years, and both know that I consistently invoice fewer hours than actually worked, with an average effective rate in the range of $65 to $75 per hour. My firm’s rates have consistently been well below industry and municipal averages for the scope and quality of work provided. With regard to service satisfaction and responsiveness, Howell himself is aware of my response to the July 2009 lightning strike at the Police Department when I even assisted him in re-gaining internet access for Security-1’s alarm monitoring system. I welcome anyone to survey the departments I serve on a routine basis and form their own unbiased opinion of my overall service and responsiveness.

4. Chris Warfel further stated that “having dealt with me at the school… communications were at the point of hysterics… shutting down a server was going to involve notifying Verizon.” These statements are false. First, Chris didn’t actually have dealings with me. In the fall/winter of 2011, the school suffered multiple unexpected server room equipment shutdowns due to work on the solar array. Though specifically requested in writing to do so by Superintendent Hicks, Chris chose not to communicate with me and a Saturday power cutover to re-activate the solar panels again resulted in a crash of three servers and a firewall. These devices failed to return to normal operation, an outcome that was easily avoidable with simple two-way communications. The reference to “notifying Verizon” is also without basis.

5. Howell raised questions about the involvement of IT in implementing the town’s Fire Alarm Monitoring System and further stated that the system “is a mess.” This is not the first time Howell has made this statement in public. I suggest that anyone interested in an expert and unbiased opinion about this project, about my involvement in particular, and about the integrity of the resultant system, should contact Deputy State Fire Marshal Scott Caron.

I respectfully request that council members seek factual information on which to base their decision, including review of the town’s request for proposals and my response to that request, and a survey of the departments to which I provide services. I don’t anticipate accolades from everyone; however, I do anticipate you will find that reasonable people see me as a reasonable person and that I have a track-record of collaboration and results. I have worked diligently to ensure the stability of the town’s technology infrastructure and assist in leveraging the town’s technology investment. The goal has been to implement cost-effective long-term solutions to problems and opportunities in such a way that they are sustainable beyond the tenure or life of any one individual. I believe this is truly in the best interests of the town.

In response to the suggestion that I work without a contract, I cannot agree to work indefinitely without a contract, as that makes very little business sense for a small business such as mine. However, I will gladly answer council’s relevant questions or concerns and will work in good faith to assist in making a timely and responsible decision regarding the future of the town’s IT services.

Michele M Spero, President

Information Systems Technologies, Portsmouth, RI


This was also sent to the council and copied to the Times:

As members of the Deer Task Force, we urge you to vote against changing island hunting regulations.

Rhode Island state regulations now allow lesser weapons to share the shotgun hunting season and given our current deer overpopulation and the damage and diseases deer cause, limiting hunting opportunities is counter productive.

Hunters using lesser weapons are allowed to hunt in places that are too populated by humans for shotguns and there have been no recorded cases of injuries resulting from shotguns and lesser weapons hunting together in Rhode Island.

Sara McGinnes

High Street

Becky Ballard

West Side Road


To: the Editor—

In “An Elegy to Bill Crawford: simple gifts,” in the last issue, I referred to the exceptional Cabaret performance of the “Quest for Santa Lucia.” It brought together an extraordinary array of some of the finest talent in the community, marshaled and put on display for the benefit and joy of the community: Bill Crawford, the witty and colorful deep bass; Luis Montoya-Velez, the heartfelt lyrical tenor and lovable personality (and the protégé and “adopted son” of Madelene Salster and Ann Henault); Ann Henault, the accomplished piano accompanist; and Toni Lemoine, the gifted and imaginative Extravaganza choreographer and stage director.

They combined to put on one of the finest, funniest and most enjoyable skits ever performed - to the everlasting delight of the island audience.

A taste of that skit can be vicariously conjured up and savored by the following scenario:

The scene opens aboard ship on the high seas with Luis, a deck-hand sailor with spy glass in hand, on the lookout for Santa Lucia. He periodically announces “I see something chining” (being unable to pronounce “shining”). Bill, as captain, responds: “No, that’s not Santa Lucia, that’s Santa Claus.” Luis, again: “I see something else out there chining.” Bill: “No, it’s not Santa Lucia, it’s Santa Maria Donnelly.” Luis continues “chining” and Bill continues adlibbing and cleverly inventing other Santas.

Eventually, fed up with Luis, Bill takes the spy glass from him and orders him back to work; Luis starts swabbing the deck, and with his back to the audience, starts singing Santa Lucia in Italian. Ultimately, he positions himself behind Bill, back to back, his back to the audience, and continues singing in Italian; Bill, in front, faces the audience and lip-syncs Luis. Then, in reverse, they switch: Bill behind, his back to the audience, singing in English while Luis, in front, faces the audience and lip-syncs Bill. In finale, side by side, in duet, they finish the farce.

Will we see their like again? No matter what, to us they were a gift and a blessing.

Richard Weisbroat

West Side Road


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