Time To Renew Masks Commitment
Chatham residents and guests have been, for the most part, exemplary with their mask wearing. The images we see around town and in local media reflect well on our collective choices. From time to time, however, we see things that cause concern. Like the picture that appeared in the Oct. 22 Chronicle on page 47 regarding a pumpkin carving and pizza party on Little Beach. No masks were being worn and there was little social distancing. Now, it is possible that masks were removed for the picture and returned immediately afterward. I hope so. If not, this was a lapse of good judgment.
At a time when scientists are saying wearing of masks could prevent 130,000 American lives from being lost in the next several months, everyone should be strictly complying with this core guideline. We must keep up our commitment to protect each other even as we feel fatigued by the “new normal.” A public health leader recently asked if you could save a life without risking your own, would you do it? That’s what wearing a mask is all about.
The writer is the chairman of the Chatham Board of Health.
Why Not Work At Night?
After sitting in traffic for 20 minutes – I have no choice with a George Ryder Road South address – I was curious as to why a better plan to handle the traffic was not in place. Typically when a road construction project interferes with the local communities ability to function smoothly, local authorities and contractors will collaborate to find a solution caused by the proposed work. In the case of the West Chatham Roadway Project, it would seem to make good sense to do the major disruptive portion of the work at night rather than during the day. This would allow the businesses to stay accessible to regular as well as new customers and the traffic would not be an issue. Detours at night would work easier as there are a lot less vehicles on the road. Most, if not all, businesses would be closed or getting ready to close.
Bill Would End Local ICE Agreements
Of the 14 county sheriffs in Massachusetts, only three volunteered to enter 287g agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Bristol, Plymouth and our own in Barnstable. In fact, those are the only sheriffs across New England that have done so. These agreements allow state and county corrections personnel to act as federal immigration agents, at state taxpayer expense, and have been justified by the sheriffs who opted into these programs as public safety imperatives.
Recent research conducted at the Stanford University Immigration Policy Lab and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (immigration lab.org/2020/10/19/sanctuary-policies/) demonstrated that when policies limited cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, the deportation of noncitizens without criminal convictions declined. No measurable decrease occurred for noncitizens with violent convictions. In other words, these policies had no measurable effect on crime.
Most sheriffs in the Commonwealth apparently consider 287g contracts to be unnecessary and function without them. These agreements are decided between ICE and each sheriff alone, without any public input or vote. However, we now have a legislative opportunity: the Safe Communities Act. During its currently extended session, the Massachusetts Legislature must pass this bill, which protects due process by requiring ICE to Mirandize someone in local custody before they are questioned, and by ending 287g agreements.
The writer is a member of the Cape Cod Coalition for Safe Communities.
Let Commission Do Its Job
I am a Chatham homeowner, taxpayer, and pilot who has flown out of the Chatham Airport for 40 years. I have been following the controversy related to the airport and cannot fathom how a vocal minority should be allowed to hold up safety improvements to the airport which benefits the greater Chatham community in so many ways.
The Chatham Airport Commission has been fulfilling its charge in good faith. Airport opponents have thrown up every roadblock imaginable. One advocated to selectmen that no airport master plan be done so that any obligations imposed by the FAA to maintain CQX as an airport are eliminated. Creating an advisory committee is nothing more than a stalling tactic so that the airport commission fails to deliver the required document to the FAA.
Among the leaders of the airport opposition are founders of Citizens for a Safe Chatham Airport (CSCA), a driving force behind litigation associated with the former skydiving operation. This litigation has imposed a heavy cost on Chatham taxpayers and an administrative burden that has weighed heavily on town staff with requests for information. CSCA is pursuing its narrow interests solely for the comfort of its members and at the expense of Chatham taxpayers and the economic benefits that the airport brings to the community.
Those who would undermine the airport do not value the economic and public safety contributions that it offers the community. There are multiple businesses located at the airport including the excellent restaurant and aircraft maintenance shop. Fish spotters, whale watchers, Angel Flights, local pilots, Medevac helicopters and the Coast Guard all operate from the field. Young people learn to fly at the Chatham Airport and go on to careers in commercial and military aviation. Hotels, restaurants, tourism, and real estate values are supported. A January 2019 study done by MassDOT estimated that the Chatham Airport is responsible for generating 156 jobs in the community and produces a $13.9 million economic benefit.
The proposed GPS landing approaches to the airport will reduce noise and enhance safety since aircraft would overfly fewer homes than now when relying on the current antiquated circling approaches. The FAA and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) have strongly advocated for the adaptation of such approaches since they enhance safety.
The airport commission has been put in the impossible position of attempting to appease an uncompromising and litigious anti-airport faction while at the same time fulfilling its duties to preserve and protect the airport for future generations. This is precisely what led to the current litigation with skydiving.