Letters to the Editor, Sept. 20

Letter to the Editor

Something Smells Fishy


Wequassett Resort and Golf Club is held in the highest regard as one the most respected businesses on Cape Cod; principle-centered, socially responsible, philanthropic, and a leader in management solutions. The resort was recognized last year as “Business Leader of the Year,” does endless philanthropic work including major land conservation work in Harwich and beyond and, in fact, was recently recognized as “Conservationist of the Year.”

I am fortunate to have had a long and diverse relationship with this exemplary organization as a fellow businessperson, a patron, a supplier, a sponsor of Jazz Nights, and as a representative of various non-profits who have benefited greatly from their remarkable commitment to community. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that Wequassett Resort and Golf Club is seen by many, including me, as a Cape Cod model of best business practice.

Yet the Conservation Law Foundation is accusing them of “illegally discharging pollutants, threatening to drive away millions of tourists, flushing our health and economy down the drain, causing noxious algae outbreaks, dead fish, odors, and SCUM!”

Wait, what?

Following is my understanding of the actual issue in simple terms:

Oversight, protection, and permitting of our waterways is governed by the State department of environmental protection. Although the federal Environmental Protection Act has no jurisdiction over our waterways, the CLF is claiming that both Wequassett and Wychmere Harbor Beach Club are in violation of the Clean Water Act and need to be permitted by the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System which is governed by the EPA. If there is validity to this claim, I would think the onus would be upon the DEP or the EPA to notify all applicable with any proposed changes to the current law.

Wequassett is in full compliance with the current laws as regulated by the department of environmental protection. They installed a waste treatment facility in 2010, significantly reducing nitrogen into Pleasant Bay and eliminating it completely from Round Cove. Further, the town has ratified a new plan to further reduce nitrogen. Pleasant Bay Alliance in collaboration with the towns surrounding Pleasant Bay has created a first of its kind watershed permit for communities around the Bay. For this work they were recently chosen to receive an Environmental Merit Award bestowed by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency! Irony?

Why target Wequassett? Perhaps because they are worthy of press and are perceived to have deeper pockets? I believe the resorts are simply pawns whose reputations are being damaged by CLF for some ulterior motive that has nothing to do with Pleasant Bay or Nantucket Sound.

Why is CLF seemingly so intent upon expanding the reach of the EPA? Beats me but I think it’s fishy!

Naomi M. Turner



Poaching Or Abandoning Ship?


Bill Galvin's very detailed piece on the Harwich Selectman/Administrator exchanges around Harwich's employee "poaching" problem at the recent selectmen meeting caught my attention for several reasons. The first is that apparently the town administrator has the charter authority to upgrade positions, and did that, but then gets ordered to provide detailed minutia about his actions to a selectman. It sounds like the town administrator is considered more like a secretary to the selectmen than being the person in charge. It also appears to be political grandstanding. Not a good message for us out here paying taxes. A selectman vote to do a timely and comprehensive wage/salary study would have been a more responsible effort than criticizing the town administrator for doing what the charter requires. Politicizing the work of municipal staff does little to improve the organizational culture.

Secondly, in my decades of human resource experience in the public sector, employee mobility is a given. Employees act on their own volition to improve their status and rearrange personal advantages. Some seek employment closer to home, to their kids' schools and yes, to improve their promotional opportunities. They often move for financial advantage as well. However, when mobility becomes a pattern, then the leaving organization should examine its own job satisfaction culture to see if it is designed to nurture employee needs as well as its own mission. Successful organizational cultures nurture job satisfaction for all employees, no matter how measured.

My guess is that the Harwich administration is well prepared to deal with this issue while the selectmen should pay attention to insuring that their decision-makers have adequate resources and internal systems to meet the provisions of their job descriptions.

Thomas P. Johnson, Ed.D

Harwich Port


Public Service Primer At EPL


An unusual opportunity to hear about the real life experience of running for elected office will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Eldredge Public Library.  The panel conversation on seeking and serving in elected office brings together five people who successfully ran and will tell us about it! The group includes former state office holders Rob O’Leary and Jo Ann Sprague, former local office holders Florence Seldin, David Whitcomb and currently serving Chatham Selectman Shareen Davis. The purpose of this conversation is to enlighten the audience with the first-hand experience of the panel, foster appreciation for those who engage in elections for public service and, in the long run, to strengthen democracy.

Presented by the Learning Series Committee at the Eldredge Public Library, the discussion requires registration by drop-in shortly before the program, online, or at the library. This is a chance to hear the stories of good people who sought and won elected public service.  It is an opportunity to become inspired to enter politics by those who have prided themselves in their civility.  As the facilitator of the program and a past president of the League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area, I encourage readers to attend.  A free will donation of $5 to support the Learning Series is suggested.

Judy Thomas



On The Shoulders Of Giants


The Art of Charity has been blessed by having patrons, supporters and longtime leadership that over our 26 years of existence have nudged, guided and sometimes shoved us in the direction of our mission statement: to enhance, in some way, every child's experience in our area, both in and out of season. In this endeavor, we have had the benefit and the input of two alpha dogs who helped to shape the AOC framework. Jean Young and Andy Marx were vital to our continuation and to the enhancement of our effectiveness. To say that we miss them would be woefully understated. Success as AOC has always rested on the shoulders of giants, and some of these giants have now left the stage, leaving us little bit-players diminished yet still intrepid. “The show must go on!”

AOC is a home-grown charity and therefore we would be remiss if we did not reach out to Andy Young and Sheila Marx and their absolutely illuminated children to thank them for letting us be a part of their loved ones' final tribute and remembrance. To all of those who donated to AOC in honor of Jean and Andy, thank you! Our continuation and commitment goes on, in support of a great cause, and in the name of two even greater people.

Otis Russell, president

Art of Charity Foundation


Time To Stop Ignoring Seal Issue


I’ve requested Selectmen place the seal population on the agenda as soon as possible.

Over the last weeks I’ve watched as many as five seals feeding in the morning within 50 feet of the shore – among the moored boats, yards from the children’s beach at Oyster Pond.

If five or more are in that small area, there are likely dozens in Oyster Pond. The number and activity in the pond has grown significantly in last year. All it will take is one shark to figure it out and make its way in.

Great whites aren’t the only unintended consequence of seal proliferation. The estimated 50,000 seals consume 4 to 6 percent of their body weight daily, 600,000 pounds of fish a day, at minimum 150 to 200 million pounds of fish a year from our waters. Based on their reproduction rate, in five years that number could easily double.

They eat everything: cod, herring, flounder, striper, mackerel, clams, oysters, scallops, crab, lobster and baitfish, decimating the aquatic ecosystem. It’s becoming far more costly and more dangerous for fishermen who have to go further out for longer periods of time.

Seals are quickly becoming more habituated, coming closer to shore at Oyster Pond, Lighthouse Beach and the fish pier. Two people were bitten this summer. Consequently sharks are coming in closer. The young man who died was only 30 feet off shore. The next time it could be a child at children's beach.

Even without the shark threat, seals themselves are dangerous, particularly when feeding. They could mistake a child for food. And their fecal waste closer to shore will eventually result in the increase of coliform bacteria, closing beaches.

And for those still unconvinced, if Chatham becomes a town with no water recreation, tourism, home sales, rental income and property values will plummet, and it could happen overnight if there are fatalities here. We shouldn’t wait until our waters are too dangerous for any recreation, the aquatic ecosystem and food chain that sustains it is totally destroyed, the regional economy tanks, or there’s a fatality here. Ignoring it is no longer option. “Educating” the public and superior emergency response after an attack is not sufficient. It’s time to address the cause.

It’s the federal government’s job to have anticipated and monitored this disastrous ecological imbalance that has occurred because of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. We need to demand the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our state and federal elected officials and the governor act. Public safety is the first priority of government.

We also need to stop promoting sharks as a tourist attraction. In light of this death which has become a national story because of its rarity (only 35 unprovoked fatalities in the U.S. in the last 60 years until now), it’s no longer appropriate, and it sends mixed messages. You can’t expect visitors to take the danger seriously when there are mugs, toys, T-shirts and hats celebrating great whites in every store. I think it will reflect poorly on Chatham and at some point it’s going to backfire.

Elaine Gibbs