Letters, Jan. 28, 2012

Mon, 01/23/2012 - 7:46pm

To: the Editor—

I have never met Mike Stratton, but after reading his letter to the editor I have to say that he is a class act.

And I give him my word that when I play rock and roll at Club Soda, I will make a point of turning down my guitar. I mean it!

John Henry Tripler

Center Road


To: the Editor—

Wow, what a great week in the dead of winter for an average island resident like myself. I do like to take part from time to time in some of the political and not so political dialogue here on the island, as we all should. This week was really a trifecta: the Deer Task Force proposing more hunting, the Planing Board recommending the Deepwater substation be placed on Block Island Power Company property rather than the McGinnes family private property, at least so far; and Club Soda at the Highview Hotel under attack by the Town Council after 100 years of service.

Let me focus on the Deer Task Force (many of us wonder why we even have such an entity any longer). They have served no useful purpose in controlling the deer herd other than proposing more and more hunting without any regard to safety, opening up our conserved lands to hunting in effect closing all the hiking trails and nature walks. At the same time our Tourism Council advertises all of the above — except hunting. Maybe there have been a few more kills, maybe a few less cases of Lyme, I said maybe, but at what cost? Those that live here year round and especially through the winter are in constant jeopardy, are essentially trapped in our homes. Yet now the Task Force wants weekend hunting and even night hunting.

At last week’s meeting of the task force, half of the members were absent and unable to attend because they are not here in January nor for half of the winter for that matter, probably thinking it’s too dangerous, yet at the fall meetings they all proposed more hunting for the winter. One member flew in for the meeting last week, proposed more hunting and promptly flew out again. Thanks a lot!

I was very concerned about Fraser Lang’s publisher’s note of last week where he compares Block Island to Monhegan Island in Maine. Monhegan eradicated all the deer on the island and almost all of the Lyme Disease a few years ago and Fraser used it as an example that we could follow here saying that eradication of all the deer was “eminently reasonable.” That was basically what the Deer Task Force said to us last year and I presume Mr. Lang was referring to that meeting.

I called Monhegan Island this week now that it is a popular “poster boy,” but I didn’t call local officials or anyone politically connected. I talked to some just plain residents of Monhegan.

#1. Monhegan is 1 square mile; Block Island is 12 square miles.

#2. Monhegan has 70 year round residents, Block Island has 1,000.

#3. Monhegan eradicated all of the deer — all 12 of them — two of which were sort of pets to one resident. Block Island has at least 500 deer. However there was a 13-year study on Monhegan stating that over that period, 100 deer were removed by 1999. They also reported that 11 percent of the island tested positive for Lyme Disease basically without symptoms at that time, but after eradication everyone tested negative. That really is interesting since Lyme immunity stays with you, giving positive tests for years to come. Also, that meant only eight people tested positive on the island.

#4. They still have ticks and a few cases of Lyme on Monhegan but they say they must be bringing it in from elsewhere. There are no paved roads, no street lights and no cars.

#5. The only wildlife left on the island now other than birds are crabs and lobster.

#6. The biggest problem on Monhegan now is not Lyme or Deer but Fairy Houses, which are small hovels made of moss and bark constructed by summer tourists for their children. The forest of Monhegan is full of them, supposedly attracting the good fairies. But they’re bad for the flora and tundra of the island and will be banned.

Comparing Monhegan Island to Block Island is not apples and oranges, but more like comparing a cherry and a watermelon.

I will admit that after talking to them I can’t wait to go there myself, it sounds lovely.

In the process of explaining this poor comparison to the Deer Task Force and chairperson Mary Sue Record, I was advised that I was not on the agenda, could not speak any longer, there would be no discussion and my time was up. I explained to her that public input never is on the agenda, I wanted no discussion just wanted the task force to hear me out. Why didn’t they call for more state game wardens out here and why isn’t safety playing any role in their planning? “You are wasting our time” was her quick retort.

I think the plane was waiting.

John Willis

Beacon Hollow Farm


To: the Editor—

Imagine my surprise when I looked out my window on Sunday morning and discovered that sometime late on Saturday, a Block Island angel had come and shoveled a pathway from my entry porch to my car. Whoever you are, may your halo always glow with kindness! Thank you so much.

Jean Valentine

Center Road


To: the Editor—

I must admit that I have not really followed the writings of Steve Hollaway. But this week’s letter [Letters, January 21] got me thinking. Perhaps I, being no theologian, was misunderstanding his viewpoint. So I did some research, which I would like to share.

Mr. Hollaway writes, “I’m getting used to thinking of myself as the serpent in this veritable Eden,” and “the original serpent was not venomous, but ‘subtle.’”

The suggestion that the serpent was not venomous, but subtle, can be both correct and incorrect, depending on how you look at it. Though not all “serpents” (one definition: a wily, treacherous or malicious person) are venomous (spiteful or malignant), some are. There is no distinction made in the Bible whether the serpent in the Garden of Eden was or wasn’t. It could have been.

And then there is that word, subtle, which if taken as written could mean many things, though one taken from the dictionary is “cunning or wily” and seems to fit the Bible story the best. But what if the word was the original Biblical word, subtil, which means “sly, artful, cunning, deceitful and/or devious”? It is a “subtle” difference, caused by a slight change in spelling.

Now, to that odd “apology.” Mr. Holloway says it was hearsay (defined as rumor or gossip in the dictionary) even if it was a reasonable (logical) inference (guess, speculation). So, in layman’s terms, he confesses to spreading rumor (or gossip), even if it was a logical guess or speculation?

Of course, it was silly (weak minded, lacking good sense, stupid, foolish) that he listened to, and I quote “a lovely women who spends afternoons listening to hate radio from Providence in a vain attempt to drive herself crazy or make herself glad to live on Block Island, whichever comes first.”

So let me get this right, Mr. Hollaway, in your own words: You think of yourself as a silly subtle serpent who spreads hearsay?

Or, if we use the definitions: A weak-minded, lacking-in-good-sense, stupid, foolish, cunning, wily, treacherous, malicious person who spreads gossip and rumors.

These are your words, not mine. The definitions are from the dictionary. If my research has proven to be inaccurate, I do apologize for any discrepancies. Peace be with you.

Heather Sniffen

Ambrose Lane


To: the Editor—

In 2003, the New Shoreham Town Council bravely stood up for our Constitutional rights enshrined in the 4th Amendment when it passed a resolution in opposition to the so-called “USA Patriot Act.” It is time once again for the Town Council to assert our American tradition of liberty and local governance by repudiating the unconstitutional provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (“2012 NDAA”).

Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA purports to authorize the President to designate as an enemy combatant any U.S. citizen or legal resident alien found within the United States that the President suspects “was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” Those covered by section 1021 are unclear and it is subject to abuse because it is not limited to individuals directly responsible for terrorism or belligerent acts; it applies to vague ‘substantial support’ for undefined ‘associated forces.’

The NDAA does not even provide the citizen or legal resident alien a forum to contest the President’s determination of enemy combatant status. Section 1021 then purports to authorize the President to utilize the military to detain and dispose of those U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens according to the Law of War, including: (1) indefinite detention without charge or trial until the end of hostilities, (2) prosecution through a Military Commission, or (3) transfer to a foreign country or foreign entity. Indefinite military detention without charge or trial, military tribunals, and the transfer to a foreign jurisdiction of U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens subverts civil authority to the military and defies our most fundamental liberties and Due Process forged in the Rhode Island Constitution and the following sections of the United States Constitution;

• Article I Section 9, Clause 2’s right to seek Writ of Habeas Corpus;

• The First Amendment’s right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances;

• The Fourth Amendment’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures;

• The Fifth Amendment’s right to be free from charge for an infamous or capitol crime until presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury and the right to be from deprivation of life, liberty, or property, without Due Process of law;

• The Sixth Amendment’s right in criminal prosecutions to enjoy a speedy trial by an impartial jury in the State and District where the crime shall have been committed, the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to Counsel;

• The Eighth Amendment’s right to be free from excessive bail, fines, and cruel and unusual punishment; and

• The Fourteenth Amendment’s right to be free from deprivation of life, liberty, or property, without Due Process of law.

While terrorism is real, winning the war against terror cannot come at the great expense of mitigating fundamental Constitutional rights. Undermining our Constitution serves only to concede to the terrorists’ desire to change the fabric of what made the United States a country of freedom, liberty and opportunity.

The members of the New Shoreham Town Council have taken an oath -- as have politicians, active and retired military, police, fire men and women, attorneys, and numerous other citizens and immigrants alike -- to uphold the Constitutions of Rhode Island and the United States. Moreover, it is incumbent upon all persons who believe in the rule of law and our Constitutional ideals to oppose any law or act that purports to deny our fundamental liberties and Due Process. That we have a Congress and President professing the authority to legislatively usurp our intrinsic rights enshrined in the Constitution demands an immediate response from all Americans, especially our local and state leaders.

To this end the Rhode Island Liberty Coalition has petitioned the New Shoreham Town Council with a framework resolution and ordinance that: (1) condemns Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA; (2) prohibits all town officials from assisting in a military investigation or detainment of a U.S. Citizen or legal resident alien; and 3) attempts to outlaw such military investigations and detainments. The ordinance specifically excludes investigations and detainments by the United States Coast Guard as it has traditionally exercised a limited policing function within the United States.

The Town Council will consider the resolution and ordinance at their February 6, 2012 meeting. Please attend to make your voice heard and to support the Town Council as they stand up for our liberties.

For more information on the 2012 NDAA and a copy of the framework resolution and ordinance, please visit www.RiLiberty.com.

Blake Filippi

Coast Guard Road