Letters to the Editor, Aug. 25, 2012

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:00pm

To: the Editor—

I am surprised and dismayed at the vitriol leveled at members of the Board of Directors of BIHS by some members of this community because of the decision to terminate the employment of the executive eirector. I do not know why the board chose this action but I will comment on recent decisions by the board of which I do have some knowledge.

Recently the Board of BIHS made two decisions that I think are in the best immediate and long term interest of the Medical Center and the Block Island community. The board introduced the concept of using midlevel practitioners to supplement the efforts of the physician and subsequently hired a nurse practitioner to fill that role. This action demonstrated a clear vision of how the delivery of primary medical care is evolving and helped mitigate the difficulty in finding professional coverage for care on the Island.

The board also has taken the initiative to partner with a suitable mainland provider to augment the clinical and administrative services of the center. The complexity of managing medical services on this Island became readily apparent at the recent meeting of the BIHS Board. This initiative, when successful, will help maintain the clinical excellence and financial stability of the center.

These two initiatives of the board demonstrate clear and forward reaching ideas for the center that are consonant with the current evolution of medical practice and guide me to put trust in their collective decision making.

Albert R. Casazza, MD

Corn Neck Road

To: the Editor—

Some of the members of Harbor Church found it passing strange that a letter from a pastor to his congregation would be critiqued in the Times. Perhaps, in a return to 19th century newspapering, weekly reviews of sermons are next. The reason I addressed the medical center crisis in a letter to the membership was that I wanted to keep it out of the pulpit and I wanted to address only church members.

I wish to correct a few items: First, I did not issue a retraction as last week’s article stated. Rather, at the Times’s request, I sent an email clarifying that the Times was not behind the petition. It was possible to misread one sentence in my letter in that manner, but it never crossed my mind that the Times was involved in the petition, and I told you so in a private email.

Second, I did not assert that Monty was behind the petition. I wrote “I have been told that Monty and his legal advisor (Peter Saxon) came up with the petition; this may or not be true, but it appears that at best someone is acting as Monty’s surrogate.” The person who told me that was someone circulating the petition who is very close to Mrs. Stover. She seemed like a reliable source, but I voiced my uncertainty. What is certain is that the petition could not have gone forward without Monty’s tacit approval. Had he desired to, he could have ended the drive by saying, as many resigning CEOs have, “I serve at the pleasure of the board.”

Third, Mrs. Stover’s characterization of my letter as a “directive…stating they have no choice in a political issue” misunderstands the equality and freedom of Baptists. My letter, as she knew, said at the very beginning “Just as every Sunday, since you are Baptists, you are free to ignore my words or to hear God speaking.” Baptists always have a choice; the right of individuals to interpret the Bible for themselves is at the core of our tradition. I write and preach as a trained spiritual and moral advisor, but always on a “take it or leave it” basis.

I have no opinion on whether it was appropriate for the board to ask Monty to resign, because I do not have enough information and never will. Such matters are rightly confidential. As my letter to the congregation said, I myself was blindsided by a church board after 13 years because I supported the ordination of women. I felt their demand for a resignation was unjust. I was devastated. But I did not allow my feelings of anger to lead to attacks against board members or a call for withholding contributions, nor did I allow my supporters to use such tactics. I did not always succeed, but I tried to be kind to the people who fired me. As I understand Christian ethics, ethical decisions sometimes require a man to forgo seeking justice for himself in order to keep from harming a good institution and the community at large.

I do ask for forgiveness from the community if the net effect of my letter as it has circulated beyond the church has been to create more division. I join the Harbor Church board in urging all parties involved in this conflict to forgive one another as we ourselves have been forgiven by God.

Steve Hollaway

Water Street

To: the Editor—

For those who profess not to understand the uproar over the dismissal of Mr. Stover as the executive director and financial director of the Medical Center after 16 years of faithful service, I make the following observation: It does not pass the smell test. Not even close.

Not the rationale (which has not been forthcoming from the board), not the timing (July 17 — what were they thinking?), not the method of dismissal chosen (usually reserved for someone caught with their “hand in the cookie jar”), not Mr. Stover’s resignation (prewritten by some board members), not the instant replacement of Mr. Stover as executive director by former head medical doctor (husband of a board member), not the stonewalling and arrogance of several board members, not even the clandestine clerical intervention.

All of it stinks. It’s time for the board members to either provide a cogent explanation of their actions or resign so the Medical Center and community can move on.

Steve McQueeny

High Street

To: the Editor—

I have watched the events of the last couple of weeks unfolding with increasing incredulity, disappointment, and sadness. As an annual visitor to Block Island for the last 42 years, I have been attracted to its beauty, and have witnessed again and again the warmth of its citizenry and its community spirit. But that has been jettisoned in the last several weeks.

As someone who has had significant administrative experience, I know that personnel actions and the reasons for such actions are not in the public domain. They are privileged information. The board is legally bound to silence, so all that has been heard and reported is one side of this case and one side only. I would have hoped that the townspeople would have had a greater trust and respect for members of the medical board, recognizing that their actions were made in the best interests of the Medical Center and the community it serves. The board would not have taken such an action without cause.

The petition that has been distributed is particularly troubling for any number of reasons.

The Medical Center Board acted unanimously in its decision. To single out two officers of the board is unfair, inappropriate and belies a mob mentality.

To recommend a cessation of support of the Medical Center is unwise, at best, and is self-destructive, at worst. The Medical Center is responsible for the health of the community; its mission is to provide needed care and to save lives. Why would anyone petition to have the Medical Center fail?

The community response to the Medical Center’s decision will have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to serve the Block Island community for years to come. Why should anyone open themselves to the type of verbal abuse and ad hominem comments that have been bandied about in the BI Times? Why should anyone have their integrity impugned? Volunteerism is the heart and soul of governance on B.I. The level of discourse displayed in the ‘Monty Stover affair’ will discourage community service. The Block Island community deserves better!

Sheila Blumstein

Barrington, Rhode Island

To: the Editor—

First, I am delighted that an 11 year old from Ontario (letters, Aug 18) was paying attention on his visit to the USS Constitution and were he the only person to question my calling the Coast Guard’s Eagle the only square-rigged ship in active government service I’d let it go, but several persons have mentioned the same thing.

When I last visited the Constitution I was quickly disabused of the romantic notion that she unfurls her sails and toots about Boston Harbor once a year. She was moved, just this week, as she has been in the past, guided by tugs. This year, in honor of her service in the War of 1812, once out the tugs backed off, sails were unfurled and for a few minutes she moved - for the second time in 131 years - under her own power before being re-tethered to the tugs that brought her safely home.

The USS Constitution’s own website says it is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and I’m sure everyone giving tours as the date of a rare sail approached was very excited. Today she serves her country very well as a museum, not as an active sailing ship; were that all our warships could meet as good a fate.

Martha Ball

Mansion Road

To: the Editor—

Thank you for the great write up about Gene Rankin. The man is a true gentleman.

Many years ago during a conversation with Gene he referred to me as a musician. I corrected him by honestly saying that I was just a plumber and only a weekend warrior, a three chord hack guitar player, not a professional like him.

He told me that if I can play an instrument and love music then I’m a musician. It made no difference to him.

Finally, one of my favorite stories I tell during another conversation with Gene about music I said, looking for a reaction, “In my opinion, I believe that ‘Beethoven’s 7th Symphony’ is the greatest piece of music ever written.”

He paused for a moment, then looked at me and replied, “It’s a good start.”

Thanks Gene and happy birthday.

John Henry Tripler

3 chord hack

To: the Editor—

On September 15th, I am participating in an 18 mile paddle board trip from Montauk, N.Y. to Block Island, R.I. It is the 8th annual open ocean paddle fund raiser for the organization Paddlers for Humanity. All the proceeds I raise are going to my beloved Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad.

I am asking for your support. Your business can sponsor me or you could make an individual donation to my team. Mile one has been sponsored by a very generous Bob Cotaling.

To learn more about Paddlers for Humanity and to make a donation, go to www.p4h.org, Block Island Challenge. My team name is Shark Bait. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Kate McConville

Pilot Hill

To: the Editor—

The Block Island Historical Society would like to thank all the volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to make our auction a success. A special applause to Lisa Nolan whose hard work and dedication was essential to the success.

And a thank you to BIRA for the lovely reception that complimented the auction.

Amy Jaffe, Vice president

Block Island Historical Society


To: the Editor—

The Chamber of Commerce would like to acknowledge and thank all who helped produce another season of wonderful Blues on the Block Concerts. George Dodge once again secured three outstanding bands for our enjoyment. The Block Island Tourism Council, BIRA, and Deep Water Wind each generously sponsored one concert. Interstate Navigation graciously provided passage for all the performers. The following island lodgings kindly offered complimentary stays for the bands: The Hygeia House, Old Town Inn, Manisses Hotel, Spring House, Gothic Inn, Inn at Block Island, Seacrest Inn, Bellevue House, Champlin’s, Gables Inn, and Blue Dory. We hope the concerts continue for next summer for all to enjoy. If you would like to contribute to the “Blues on the Block” to help assure their continuation, you can mail a donation to Blues on the Block PO Box D, Block Island RI 02807, and please make your check payable to BI Chamber of Commerce.

Kathy Szabo, Director

Block Island Chamber of Commerce

To: the Editor—

The Block Island Historical Society would like to thank all those involved in our house tour The home owners: Socha Cohen, Jill Helterline, Peggy and Sherman Bull, Barbara Nermoe of Holiday Haven, the Gesson family, Chris Lischke of the A&A Tea Room, and the Mott family for the Narragansett Inn. We would also like to thank the hosts and hostesses, the drivers, and the lemonade stand helpers, Rebecca and Kate Nerenberg, and Anna Reed. A special thanks to all the BIHS board members who gave their time and expertise to make this happen. Again to all, thank you for your time and effort that was essential to this year’s successful house tour.

Tobee McMellon, Chair of the House Tour Committee

Pam Gasner, Director of the BIHS

Amy Jaffe, Vice-President of the BIHS