Letters To The Editor: June 27, 2024

by Cape Cod Chronicle Readers

Don’t Ignore Climate Change


I spent a week walking Harding’s Beach in the morning, turning over horseshoe crabs and picking up trash, predominantly, balloons and plastic bags. A rare antelope just died at a zoo after choking on a plastic cup. Fish have been found with microplastic. Birds choke on plastic packaging. Do we really need balloons to celebrate an occasion? We are at a crisis point with global warming. Extreme heat, tornados, hurricanes, fires and drought. We need to put our fragile earth before our selfish choices like extravagant homes and needless watering. Ignoring all the signs of climate change is reckless and selfish!

Juliet Brown

West Harwich

Humor Is The Best Tool


In analyzing today’s politics, it is important to bear in mind that the totalitarianism that infects so many countries and so-called “political parties” is not in and of itself an ideology; it is a method of control. The universality of the method is demonstrated by its use in many different so-called “political settings.” By way of example, Afghanistan, Angola, Belarus, Botswana, China (PRC), Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Myanmar, Russia, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uganda, to name a few. They do not have the same ideology to rationalize their oppression, just the same methodology for control. But this methodology has a weakness.

People want to be free. As the John Templeton Foundation has noted: “Freedom allows people to build lives of meaning and purpose, and is an essential component of human flourishing. In turn, the freedom to explore, create, and innovate are what drives human progress, creating prosperous communities and healthy societies.”

Because of this dissonance, all totalitarian authorities suffer from the same threat to their existence, humor. As E.B. White (the author) has noted: “A despot doesn't fear eloquent writers preaching freedom; he fears a drunken poet may crack a joke that will take hold.” As one of Hitler’s Nazi prosecutors noted decades ago: "The better the joke, the more dangerous its effect.”

So, do not get angry at the absurdity of the want-to-be dictators who fantasize about being in “total control” and who hate everyone who does not bend the knee or kiss the ring. Make fun of them. It is the most effective tool for tearing down want-to-be dictators and their shameless enablers.

In closing, by way of example, I offer this attempt at humor:

A woman in a hot-air balloon is lost, so she shouts to a man below, “Excuse me. I promised a friend I would meet him, but I don't know where I am.”

“You're at 31 degrees, 14.57 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude,” he replies.

“You must be a Democrat.”

“I am. How did you know?”

“Because everything you told me is technically correct, but the information is useless, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've been no help.”

“You must be a Republican.”

“Yes. How did you know?”

“You've risen to where you are due to a lot of hot air, you made a promise you couldn't keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Tom Clarke

West Chatham

Watch That Idle Time


I’ve learned that policing and scolding people doesn’t make the world a better place, so I write this letter simply to inform.

“Idling your car for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more emissions that contribute to smog and climate change than stopping and restarting your engine does.” (U.S. Department of Energy.)

Please consider turning off your engine when you stop for more than 10 seconds.

Jan Sidebotham


Farewell From UU Minister


It has been four-and-a-half years now that I have served as minister for the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House in Chatham. It has been both a joy and privilege to share in ministry with these people who care so deeply for one another and our world. Together we navigated extraordinary times and have come through all the stronger for it. Our face in the community extends from close to home with the Chatham Children’s Fund, the summer interfaith services at Oyster Pond and the local Habitat for Humanity builds in ever widening circles in the Mid and Lower Cape through the justice efforts of the Nauset Interfaith Association. Our monthly outreach supports so many local nonprofits. These people are a willing gift to each other in the way they tend to need that arises in the course of “life just happening” in their midst and this is why in large part it is such a delight to bear witness to their loving embrace.

Needless to say, I will miss the opportunity to sit in their presence and lend what wisdom I can to their dreams and endeavors!

As I move into a calling that is more community focused on the provision of individual spiritual care, I take their big hearts with me, a powerful remedy for the times we live in.

Reverend Tracy Johnson


Join Your Conservation Commission


As I conclude two terms on the Chatham Conservation Commission, I want to encourage environmentally minded townspeople to consider joining. The framers of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, enacted in the 1970s, were ahead of their time. They understood that unrestrained development was destroying wetlands, which are a fundamental environmental resource. The Act required each town to form a conversation commission, composed of citizen volunteers, to uphold its provisions. Towns were also allowed to add local regulations, including for so-called buffer zones, which for Chatham is land within 100 feet of wetlands and associated areas. As a result, virtually any alteration to buffer zones requires approval by the commission.

One does not need an environmental background to join, but it is good to understand what is involved. It will take about a year to learn state and local regulations, and about eight to 12 hours most weeks to review applications, visit project sites, attend hearings, and help draft approval documents. That is why it is important to always have new members getting up to speed. Chatham will fund training, and a good option is to start as an associate member.

Being on the commission is a commitment, but it is also an enriching experience. It makes a real difference in protecting wetlands that we depend on for water quality, as a buffer against sea level rise, and for a healthy and diverse environment. If that sounds important, even urgent, then it is an opportunity that you should not miss.

Robert Ralls

South Chatham

Chatham Should Lead The Way


After much effort, Chatham is on its way to increasing its year-round housing inventory. Proposals have come in, and one in particular is unique and quite unexpected. Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) has proposed an extraordinary opportunity for the Buckley property at 1533 Main St. HAC is a Cape-based, not-for-profit organization with a 50-year history of commitment to, and experience in, advancing housing in our local communities. The HAC proposal offers a mix of eligible occupant affordability, reaching the “missing middle” of workforce housing, is suitably sized at 36 units, presents an attractive conceptual design that is in keeping with the charm and character of Chatham, and, most impressively, is exclusively a home ownership model, a goal that many in our community have long expressed the desire to see happen.

Of the 10 evaluations that were submitted by the evaluation committee members, four (two from the select board; two from the affordable housing trust) ranked the HAC proposal in first place.

What’s so special about the HAC proposal? First, as a homeownership program, it would allow us to secure 36 homes that would be permanently deed restricted for year-round income eligible residency. The homeownership model will go a long way in attracting buyers with an interest in having a long-term stake in Chatham; the income-level eligibility will help support those workers so badly needed in our community. The HAC model offers a solution for those (workers and families) who earn too much to qualify for affordable housing, but can’t afford market rate homes. The HAC model also uses an architectural firm with a Chatham office, and offers two parking spaces per unit. And the HAC proposal could begin construction in the second quarter of 2025 and be ready for unit sales in the third quarter of 2026.

What are the most significant challenges with the HAC proposal? Town financial investment and its novelty. The developer proposes that the town contribute $5.4 million in funding. Yes, this is a big number indeed, but there are other potential funding sources, in addition to a town meeting appropriation. The town currently has legislation on file in Boston that would codify the allocation of 1 percent of the short-term rental tax for affordable/attainable housing. This fund is expected to generate approximately $900,000 annually. There is also a proposal at the state level that would authorize state financial support for ownership-model housing. These potential avenues for funding should be explored. Additionally, HAC has offered to undertake the project in stages to allow time to raise the funding.

Most pressingly, to further ensure the town has the most accurate assessment of the proposals, a formal financial analysis to evaluate the numbers in the competing proposals would be helpful. Understanding the complicated and evolving world of housing financing, including the probability and timelines for disbursement, requires a specialized analysis. The towns of Brewster and Orleans recently engaged a financial consultant to examine proposals for housing projects in their communities. It would be prudent for Chatham to undertake similar due diligence.

And, as for the novelty of the HAC proposal, why shouldn’t Chatham lead the way, as it often does? Fortunately, whichever proposal is chosen, we will increase our year-round housing stock. Wouldn’t it be the “Chatham Way” to create housing that is the best fit for its residents? This is an opportunity that should be presented to the voters of Chatham. Let them decide whether it merits support and funding.

Cory J. Metters

Dean P. Nicastro

Bruce Beane

Karolyn McClelland

Editor’s note: Cory Metters and Dean Nicastro are members of the Chatham Select Board; Bruce Beane and Karolyn McClelland are members of Chatham’s Affordable Housing Trust board.

Poison Wrong Way To Go


At a dinner recently at a Dennis restaurant, I and other diners were thrilled to see a family of foxes (a mom and four young ’uns) living on the property, literally five feet from the building. The next evening I returned to take pictures and discovered a bait box for rodents, located close to the fox den. These black plastic containers are filled with poison, most commonly anticoagulant rodenticides, to control rodents. For the mouse, rat, chipmunk, squirrel or other small critter, eating the poison causes internal bleeding and a slow death. Secondary poisoning occurs when hawks, eagles, owls, foxes, coyotes and other mammals and raptors (and even our dogs and cats) eat the poisoned prey, causing immense suffering and oftentimes, death.

Despite requests from me and others to remove the bait box due to the danger presented to this fox family, the restaurant refused to do so, or even allow itself to be educated on safer alternatives. Yes, it is private property and, as such, is not prohibited from using poisons. However, this restaurant is also located in a dense neighborhood and is conducting business in a fragile environment, where poisons should be drastically curtailed. Sadly, the bait box is still in place.

Think about it: We have the best rodent control system already in place, namely hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes. All we’re doing with these poisons is killing off the very same raptors and animals that are expert at keeping rodent populations in check. If we truly care about Cape Cod’s environment and all that it encompasses, then we must do much better regarding our overuse of pesticides.

Jan Raffaele