Friday, March 8, 2013

Martha's Vineyard Death Trap: Shafting the Schifters

 



 

Note:  Martha's Vineyard is a summer death trap for unwitting visitors.  It has no credible or functional Emergency Management (Police & fire are not emergency management).  If a hurricane hits the Island in the summer evacuation is impossible because ferries and bridges cannot handle the traffic.  No credible local preparations exist.
   To be fair, Emergency Management is a flawed concept nationally.  It looks good on paper.  In practice it is just another layer of bureaucracy that interferes with the traditional duties of police and firefighters.
   More money is spent by jurisdictions to create a prepositioned media show so it looks like Emergency Management is in charge than on practical disaster preparations.  There are rare exceptions like Huntsville Alabama.
   The Schifter saga highlights not only the lack of real disaster preparedness in America but the collapse of common sense as well.


Opinion of a Chappy property owner and part time resident since 1950
The Schifter Property: read to Edgartown planning board 3/5/13
   The best and the worst people can be found on Martha’s Vineyard.  We have the best educated, smartest, most creative and philanthropic.  There is also a bunch of drug-running pirates.
   The Vineyard is reputed to have some of the most beautiful  beaches and best sailing in the world.  It also has some of the worst weather.
   The seafarers who founded this Island knew not to build near the water or in areas that flood during storms.  The city folk eventually pushed out the  seafaring folk.   A land boom that began in the 1950’s brought in a new breed of carpet baggers and scallywags. 
   These low-lifes  can always be found worming their way into local governments everywhere.  The Vineyard and Edgartown is no exception.  It’s true they are a tiny minority, but nevertheless, bad apples that can ruin it for all.
   The sad saga of the Shifters epitomizes the worst of institutional ignorance, bureaucratic indifference and corruption that plague governments world wide.  Only here it happens to be Edgartown.   Wittingly or unwittingly the hard truth is that the Schifters were swindled by Edgartown.  The swindle was issuing a building permit for a lot that was unbuildable.
   Any Island school boy could have told the Schifters “you can’t build there.”  I doubt the shifters were told or knew that in 1965 Wasque looked the same as it does today.  In the winter of that year approximately 110 acres of Wasque simply washed away.  That’s a helluva lot.  There were no exceptional storms, just a change in currents.
     Meanwhile a simple aerial view of the Schifter property reveals (minus the barrier beaches) that it is a tiny peninsula that juts off a larger peninsula into the stormy North Atlantic ocean.  A ground view reveals that  the Schifters were issued a permit to build on a sand dune at the end of this peninsula.  Edgartown’s defense is that they would not let the Shifters build at the bottom of the sand dune but made them build at the top.  A sand dune is a sand dune is a sand dune.  Regardless of where you build on a sand dune it is going to wash away.
   Now the town has the gall to hold a hearing to see if the Schifters should be allowed to move the house back so it does not fall into the sea.   This hearing is a total charade.  Given the rate of beach erosion the house will likely wash away before construction crews can move it.
   The honorable thing to do would be for Edgartown to reimburse the Schifters for their loss along with an apology.  But if they did that there are many hundreds of other homes they will  have to do the same for.    Edgartown permitted these home in lowlands where the occupants can drown from a hurricane surge, unbuildable lots.  But lots of money made from permits from city folks with lots of dollars and no sea sense.
   It is disgusting to see the level at which the Schifters are being ripped off at every turn to try and salvage a worthless property they were sold.  It’s worthless because it was unsuited for the use the Schifters wanted.  The town of Edgartown gave false value to the property by allowing building on it.  The town made money from it.
   In addition to Wasque’s history of severe beach erosion, one medium size house there was blown off its foundation in the hurricane of 1938.  Up until 2007 building codes only required houses here to withstand 90 mph winds.  In 2007 the code was upped to 110 mph.
   The highest recorded winds in MA during the hurricane of 1938 were 182 mph.  The only reason  that the wind was not recorded any higher was because the official anemometer blew away!!
   In Florida building codes require homes built in areas subject to hurricanes to withstand 150 mph winds.  Any home sold in Florida  subject to storm flooding must by law come with a notice stating so.  No such law exist  in MA on Martha’s Vineyard where hurricanes can be as severe as in Florida.
   Perhaps some good can come from this financial rape of the Schifters.  At least they are escaping with their lives.  Their ordeal may alert beach  house owners  as well as low land house owners such as the Katama flat lands, that they are in mortal danger from hurricane surges and an Island that has no credible plan to warn them as well as real estate brokers who hid this fact from them.
--Steve Jones

Friday, December 30, 2011

Still Riding

December 30, 2011 Oceanside CA

   With Oceanside as my base I have been riding out to surrounding cities, Escondido, San Marcos, Encinitas, Carlsbad and making appointments rather than cold calls.  Hopefully I can cover all 18 cities in San Diego County in the next few weeks while I work full time painting houses here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I have arrived

Dec 8,

   Last night I rode into Oceanside CA my final destination.  It seems an Irony that I arrived on December 7th.  It did not occur to me until the night before last watching Pearl Harbor memorials on TV.
   I'm at the library so limited on my time but will catch up my blog here in the next couple of days.  I've kept a handwritten journal and will copy the entries.
  Total milage ridden is 3,550 miles + or - about 50 as my first odometer broke and the second one reset on me a couple of times.  I got one ride across the Newport Rhode Island bridge which prohibits bicycles.  Corrine was with me then and a big help in getting the ride as she made a sign and had her clown nose on.
    I'll be here in Oceanside for a week or two and hope to meet with fire and police in surrounding cities.
More soon...

December 6,   Julian CA, Rode 75 miles
     Good meeting with Octillo Wells fire, part of San Diego Coundy FD.   Octillo Wells does not look like it is big enough to be a town but the fire department is big as it covers part of the county.
     Rode by Salton sea.  It looks like the Great Salt Lake.  I took route 78 and rode from sea level to about 4500 feet.  It was a grueling ride into the night to reach a motel.  Spectacular vistas most of it.  Not a lot of traffic until late in the day.  I almost quit to sleep by the road but it was very windy and temperaturs at night were going into the teens at that elevation.

December 5,   still in Brawley CA (My day "off")

     I find that my mind seems to need more of a rest than my body.  It could be too that normally I go into what could be called depression during November and December.  One counselor called it a creative low or drawing back of the bow string for the next project.
     Ofthen on the road I have to give myself safety talks reminding myself out loud to be alert for the drunk and texting grivers.   When I find myself feeling comfortable in what I used to sonsider dangerous situations then I need a talk.
     Before this trip I was apalled at how bicyclists rountinely seemed to take the right of wasy and expect cars to look out and avoid them.   I don'''t want to be one of those cyclists.    I think bike lanes are suicide lanes            because they take you way out into traffic where right-turn lanes start.
Bikers should go right and cross the road as a pedestrian if necessary.
   Cyclists accustomed to taking the right of way will not do well on bike-friendly freeways where only shoulder riding is permitted.
    I'm writting about bike safety partly in response to the news that a young medical student was just killed in a bike lane in Salt Lake City, my home town.   On Martha's Vineyard I've seen cyclists use the overcrowded state roads when a paved bike path is available beside them.
   That said, for most of the day I just veged out but I made a trip to the Brawley fire deparetment and had a good meeting with the Fire Marshall.   Brawley is a small city of about 22,000 people.   Most small cities welcome the 60-Second training cards and rad monitors as the big cities "get all the money."

December 4,  Brawley CA, Rode 74 miles
     I left monitors inside the Hotville fire department.  It was open but nobody was there.
     It was not windy as forecast..   I made it to California today.  San Diego is just a stone's throw away but feels lkie the other side of the world.  Maybe it's because the ride is ending.
     In any case I'm pretty worn out.   I've been riding hard for the last five days because I don"t want to sleep in the desert.   The towns with motels are often more than 70 miles apart or I'd have to cut short the day because the next motel is a stretch.
     It's not that I don't like sleeping in the desert.  I'm worried about running into smugglers and bandidos.  The King County sheriff in Texas warned me not to travel near the borders as I have been doing.   The alternative of riding through northern NM and AZ was not possible due to cold weather.
    That said I'm heading north now.  At one point today the freeway ran right next to the Mexican border.   After I rode about 16 miles into California   a sign on the freeway ordered all bicycles to exit right in the middle of nowhere.  There was no legal way to continue on but I did anyway until I came to a frontage road about ten miles farther.  It was really the old highway before the freeway was built and in bad condition but rideable.  I was glad to finally get off the interstate.
   The scenery changed a lot today from Sahara-looking sandy desert to irrigated vegetable farms.  The weather was sunny and cool.   As bionic as I am at 61 I doubt that I could have handled hot days on this ride.   By hot I mean in the 80's.  At age 16 I used to ride when the temperature was as high as 105 degrees F in Iowa and not be bothered by it.
   It has been disappointing meeting so few police and fire fighters it these remote areas but I hope to make up for it when I get to the San Diego area.

December 3,  Yuma Arizona, Rode 42 miles
     I met with the Yuma Rural Metro Fire department at Station #2 and explained the monitors and 60-second cards to two firefighters.  
     I rode over  a small mountain pass about two miles of steep hill and three of moderate incline.  There was about ten miles of gradual incline before that.  It was nice to climb a mountain again.  I'm looking forwart to more mountains coming up soon.
   I rode by gigantic acreges of irrigated crops today.  I also passed gigantic feed lots with 10's of thousands of cows.   No wonder the EPA wanst to regulate cow farts, they want some of the income stream from the feed lots.  Another hidden tax the poor end up paying in higher food costs.

Really windy today.  I qw pretty tired and quit early because the  next motel is another 55 miles.  Sunny but chilly with a north wind.  Still it is great riding weather.  I don't think my body would take the heat if the day was hot.

   I friend in Salt Lake likened my trip to the "Odessy."  Yes I agree or at least I'd like to.

December 2,  (yesterday and today) Tacna Arizona, Rode 79 miles.
     Left monitors att Gilabend health department for police and fire.   Not a quality drop-off.
Almost no wind, a flat tire.   I found three weathered pennies in the desert.   I'm getting tired of the desert and long flat rides.

December 1, Gila Bend  AZ, Rode 58 miles

November 30,  Casa Grande AZ, Rode 73 miles

Dropped monitors at Casa Grande police department after talking to dispatcher.  I always try to get the dispatcher to refer me to an officer but none was available.

Wind assist to Casa Grande which means the wind was at my back pushing some.   It was a wind resist to to Gila Bend as it was blowing hard against me, gusting to 30mph + sometimes.   It was a hard ride but beautiful desert and mountains, lots of cactus.  I got to Interstate 8 and was relieved to see bike-friendly signs.  I had been worried that bikes might be prohibited and there was no other road.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Still catching up

November 17, Tatum New Mexico rt 380, rode 64 miles mostly flat terrain.
     The wind was gentle and not much of a help or hinderance.  I checked into the Sands Motel owned by Dan, a Vietnam vet and local cattle rancher and his wife.  It's a bright spot in what looks like a rural slum.  So much of America seems blighted and a lot of these tiny towns are really slums.  I don't mean the whole town is blighted  but it looks very third worldish in the sense there is wealth and poverty side by side.  The motel owner invited me to eat dinner at his place.  We ate a pig he had raised and it was very good.  I think rural folk are for the most part very resourceful and hard-working.

November 18,  took the day off as it was too windy to ride.

November 19,  I've mixed up the dates or forgot an entry.  I'm copying all this from notes I made on paper.

November 20,Hondo New Mexico, rode 124 miles, slept behinde roadside falling rock barrier.
     Met with Lea County Deputy and Roswell Police department.
I met Harry and Tom age 24 riding their bicycles around the world from England.  They were coming from SanFrancisco and had ridden 12,000 miles so far across China etc.  About fifty miles later I met another couple, Robbie and Monica who are riding their bicycles around the world and have a blog at:  velocos.ch.  You can also find them by  Googling "Robbie and Monica bicycling around the world."
  They were coming from Alaska heading for Guatamala and have been on the road since 2004 and ridden 43,000 miles (it might be kilometers)
     I rode late into the day because the wind was with me and tomorrow the forcast is for wind against me at 20-25 mph.  That is unrideable.

November 21, Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico, rode 26 miles.  Checked into motel at 9:30 am.  Beautiful calm morning but broke into big rain and windstorm shortly after I checked into the motel.  The ride today was all uphill but little wind.  I started about 5:30 am in order to beat the weather.

     . November 22, staying in a culvert near the White Sands Missle base entrance on route 70.  Rode 96 miles.
     Ice on the road at mountain pass about 7500 feet elevation.  Gave monitors to Ruidoso and Mescalero Apache fire, Tulerosa EMS,  Almagordo fire.  Long mountain climbs today.

November 23,  Deming New Mexico, rode 77 miles.  Left monitors for Las Cruces fire and police with the Chamber of Commerce. 
   I met Hector riding on Interstate Route 10 training for an 800 mile ride to Los Angeles.  He's a retired engineer.  While moste Interstate highways prohibit bicycles New Mexico does not and has signs at the on-ramps telling bicycles to "Use Shoulder Only."

November 24, Lordsburg New Mexico, Rode 65 miles, Left rad monitors at Deming State Police but no one to receive them.  Thanksgiving day.
    Wind at my back and road was fairly flat.  An elderly couple flagged me down on the freeway to change their flat (blowout) tire.  I had a bannanna split at the Dairy Queen for Thanksgiving dinner.
   Weather was beautiful all day til about 3:30 when a big storm blew in.  I got to a motel just as the rain started falling with air seeping out of my tires.

November 25,  Day off, weather storming with wind gusting out of the west at 40 mph.  No ride, no way!

November ????  I'm copying all this from scratch notes and have the days a little out of order but it's all pretty close.  Would not pass for an alabai.  My oldest daughter who is an audiologist says if I don't come home looking thin (vs. the fat I was before I left) they will know that I've been lying and just hanging out on a big vacation.

November 27,  Wilcox Arizona, rode 79 miles.  Met with Lordsburg police, met with Bowie AZ fire and left monitors at San Simon fire AZ nobody home.  I left monitors with Arizona Range News to pass on to police or fire, they said they'd like to do a story after Christmas.  The Range News is a weekly paper and did a story on our work three years ago.  I belive it is still on the Internet by searching "Nuclear Attack Kits Arizona Range News."  Wind at my back again today, very helpful..Police department, talked to dispatcher.
   A lot of long climbs but a very strong wind at my back got me to Tucson by about 3:30 pm.   Warm welcome by Dr. Orient and her mother Phyllis at the Physicians For Civil Defense.org headquarters.  Big dinner.  Jeremy did some video taping.  This is the place  we worked out of three years ago handing out Nuclear Attack kits to nearly all of Arizona's towns and cities.  There are some videos of this at "roadman911" on YouTube.

November 27,

Catching up


November 11, Vernon Texas, Rode 28 miles
   Sick with stomach flu.

November 12, Still sick, laying out for the day (no riding).
 
November 13, Crowell Texas, rode 33 miles
  Met with Vernon Fire Department.  Fire captain drove me across town to meet with their HAZMAT.
Met with Crowell police & fire.
     Very hard day riding.  The terrain was flat but the wind was gusting to 35 mph.  I could only peddle about six mph against it.  I would even get off the bike and walk it just to rest.
    I sat down under a big old tree for lunch.  There was a huge bees nest in it so I had to move.  It was hot in the 80's so I ran out of water in spite of starting out with three quarts.
   It took as much time and effort to ride 33 miles into the wind as it did to ride 87 miles with the wind at my back.

November 14, Guthrie Texas, rode 64 miles
   Met with  Knox and King county judges in charge of emergency response,  King county has a population of only 350 people and is about 800 square miles in size. 
     Big scenery change from farm land to "Marlboro Country.

November 15, Dickens Texas, rode 34 miles
   Met with King County sheriff and Dickens County sheriff.  I too photos of Dickens county jail because it looks like it came right out of a Charles Dickens novel.  I thought it was a tourist museum at first.
     Big hills, it looks like the wild west out here.  For most of today's ride there was nobody in sight for as far as the eye could see.
     I slept under a bridge in Guthrie last night as there were no motels.  Today I was low on energy and feeling run down.  My appetite has not fully returned.  I ate a better lunch but have low energy because I have not been able to eat enough..    The town of Dickens has a population of about 300 people and Dickens county has about 2,400 people covering about 900 square miles.
   Summer weather today

  November 16,  Brownfield Texas, rode 105 miles
       Gave monitors to Texas Highway Patrol officer, to Crosbyton Sheriff and fire and Lorenzo police.  I almost quit the trip today but my energy came back and I'm finally over the flu bug and its effects.
     Sometimes the need to arrive at a motel before dark or dusk means I have to skip meeting with a police or fire department.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My day off

November 9,  Frederick OK, Rode 87 miles
  Met with Cordel Fire Chief and Witchata (sp?) County Emergency Manager Max Booth.  Also dropped off monitors at Rocky fire department through contact at the senior citizens center.
  Barry Diffendaffer (sp?) stopped on the highway to talk to me.  He's a local farmer about my age (61) who also bikes a lot.   I asked him what the round rolls of hay were and he said just another way to bail it.  For most of my life I've seen those round rolls of hay and never asked anyone what they were.
   Wind was at my back all day so I cruised most of the day at 20+ mph.  "Only" peddeled for 5 hours and 54 minutes.  Average speed for the day was 15mph.   It was a bit of a thrill cruising at 20mph.  If I peddled hard I could get my speed up to 25mph on the flat.    I pushed it all day long because it was fun and I wanted to break my old record whatever that was.  In the end I realized that I can get a lot more miles with a lot less effort just by riding fifty or 60 miles a day.   I lectured myself that riding into the wind should be just as much fun as riding with it if I have the right attitude.  Frankly I can see that riding with the wind all the time could get really old as it's hard to keep up with the peddles and it makes me want to ride even faster and peddle harder.
   I stopped at the County Health Dept. on my way into Frederick to see if they were interested in the rad monitors.  No.  I asked the receptionist if there were any "economical" motels in town?  She said, "I think they are both economical."  So I stopped at the first which is the Scottish Inn.
  The geography and scenery changed a lot today.  It's looking more like the southwest.  While I probably should not compare, the route that I have taken to cross the country has been much nicer than the one I took 44 years ago.  I have avoided riding across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa both because of the weather but also they are so flat with the same endless sort of scenery.  Not that I don't like cornfields but I've both biked them and I've seen them from train and bus at least 30 times (bike once).  I hope I've not spoken to soon but I've biked across New Mexico and Arizona before (43 and 42 years ago)  so I know what's ahead.  Also, three years ago I visted about 130 fire departments in AZ by car which required about 6,000 miles of driving throughout the state.  I've been to all the smaller cities and towns in AZ with the exception of Beaver Dam.  I look forward to revisiting those that I pass by again.

November 10, Still in Fredrick as it is my "day off."
  I never have said how much my bike weighs, or my pack weighs or I weigh.  My bike was so heavy that I did not want to know how much it was.  The same for my pack and me.    I know after the first four days of riding I lightend my pack by about 30 lbs.  I was carrying an incredible amount of junk.  I think I've lost about 15 pounds of body weight so me and the bike together are about 45 pounds lighter than when we started.  If I stay on the road I'll probably lose another ten pounds.   I look better and my back doesn't hurt any more when I get up in the morning.  Also my knees have stopped bothering me.  Before the trip I figured my kness likely would not hold out if the rest of me did.
   So I got a haircut today in Frederick and I went to visit the fire department.   I ended up spending three and a half hours at the fire department and was invited to eat lunch with some of the crew.  When I showed Chief Newman the training cards and rad monitors he asked me to show him how some old Civil Defense meters he had worked.  He and his crew there really liked the new SIRAD technology and the simplicity of it.  But all agreed in the end that the information in the 60-Second Nuclear Detonation training cards had more life-saving value than "techonology."   So much of the technology, radios, electronic meters, etc. that is out there is either too expensive to maintain, sitting on shelves, or nobody knows how to use it that it is functionally useless.
   I showed Chief Newman how to make a radioactive sample with a paper towel and vacuum cleaner.  That was a big hit with him and the crew.  They all realized that if the air they were breathing was that radioactive then we've been lied to that it is so dangerous.   The EPA and related agencies have use our fear to create nice jobs for themselves etc.
   Chief Newman was so interested in radiation monitoring that I got out the Kearny Fallout Meter and showed him how it worked and gave him the instructions for making one himself.  He says he plans to order the postage stamp-size monitors for the whole county as well as make some Kearny Fallout Meters or get scouts to make them.
  So when I got my haircut the lady cutting my hair who is 82 told me that her grandson-inlaw is the fire chief in Mantaou which I passed but did not stop at.   So I gave her a monitor/training card pack to give to him.  She wanted a monitor for herself and her husband who was the former fire chief but still works for the town.
   While Frederick looks about as rural as you can get it is ringed about by abandoned nuclear missile silos visible from the road and as close as two miles away.  It is also about 18 miles from the nearest military base.   It is also well-know that a lot of radioactive material is transported on local roads.  So interest in radiation is very high here and I've been made very welcome in town for as short of visit as I've made. 
   My ride is also serving as a new sort of credential as firefighters and police officers are impressed with my "feat."   I am too.  It's hard to belive I've ridden this far and I'm surprised that I even want to keep ridding.
   One of the firefighters who is 28 but in line to be chief someday, was explaining to me how he thought there were "two America's."   He said the people who live in Oklahoma City have no idea of rural OK life.   I might add to that that congress is not only out of touch with rural America they are disconnected from it.  It's amazing that the government pays millions of people for not working when there is so much work that needs doing all throughout America.
  I'm 15 miles from Texas and hope to stay in Crowell TX tomorrow night. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bad day in Blackrock

November 7,  Watonga OK
     Rode 61 miles, met with Guthrie police department and Kingfisher County Sheriff Dept.  Light showers, bike skidded off slippery road.  I hit soft ground and rolled so was not hurt.  Tornado warnings, sky looked dangerous.  I quit riding before the clouds poured rain.
   Had I not altered my route I would have been in the path of tornadoes and golf ball-size hail.  Sun came out about 2pm.   I was exhausted and took a nap in my hammock by the roadside.  It was warm except when the showers came.
    I eat a lot but it's still not enough. My gut is gone.  Riding curbs appetite.

November 8,  Clinton OK
    Rode 56 miles.  Met with Thomas police chief Buck Jones, Custer town clerk for fire department,  Emergency Management Director for Custer County, Clinton fire chief and battalion chief.
   They all seemed like exceptionally good meetings.  Either people are more interested in these parts or my presentation is getting better.  The Custer County Emergency Manager said he was interested in getting all of Oklahoma equipped with the rad monitors.
   This was the first day it was very cold.  I could see my breath.  It feels like winter here tonight.  I'm not getting south fast enough.   I'm altering my route so I get pushed by the wind rather than fight it.  When the wind blows from the south or east I ride west.  When it blows from the north or northwest I ride south.   I can't ride into a wind that is 20-30 mph gusting 40 but I can ride perpendicular to it.

   I hope my x-country ride can get a buzz going in the country about the new SIRAD monitoring technology and the 60-second nuclear training.    First responder leadership seems more open to being prepared for nuclear than they used to be.  The old attitude was "it's all over" if a nuke goes off.  Now they are aware of the possibility of nuclear terrorism and generally want to know more.

   Police chiefs, fire chief and sheriffs don't need to spend time training for nuclear they are already trained to handle disasters.  They only need to think about what they would do for nuclear and they can do that in the shower or while driving.  While the 60-Second training cards could get their departments through a nuclear event, it would be more effective if the first responders were also equipped with the SIRAD monitors.

   Because production is not sufficient to equip 2 million first responders in a timely way now it would be enough for even 10% or 20% of a department  to be carrying the monitors.  Even one monitor to a department would go a long way towards preventing panic in the jurisdiction.