Receivership: An Important Tool
To the editor:
The Independent’s Jan. 25 edition spoke volumes about the ironies of our Outer Cape housing crisis.
A once grand, historic house rots in one part of Wellfleet while not far away progress is announced on a new multi-million-dollar affordable housing project to serve those struggling to live in our beautiful but increasingly expensive corner of the world.
Why should it take decades to condemn a dangerously neglected property? Why do bureaucratic wheels grind so slowly when in similar situations other communities are finding more effective solutions that we ignore?
There are numerous Outer Cape properties like the Bonds house; foreclosures abound; motels and cottage colonies fall prey to slumlords unchallenged. While building new affordable housing is sorely needed, we can at the same time pursue the great potential of recycling old, sometimes historic properties for this important civic purpose.
Receivership has been discovered as a useful tool where statutes give this ancient common-law practice teeth. California has steadily reformed such laws so that municipalities can appeal directly to housing courts rather than face lengthy reviews by state attorneys general. Cities and towns begin the process with diligent, well-documented code enforcement to address a variety of situations. If there is noncompliance by owners, the court process begins expeditiously. Owner challenges are resolved in weeks or a few months, not years.
With the desperate need for housing on the Outer Cape, strengthened Massachusetts receivership laws could convert eyesores into a significant number of attainable homes. Perhaps the Independent will give this approach further investigation.
John C. Marksbury
North Truro and Palm Springs, Calif.
The U.S. and Gaza
To the editor:
On Jan. 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled, in a case brought by South Africa, that it was plausible that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. Later that day, Israel alleged that 12 of the 13,000 employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the last lifeline for aid in Gaza, were complicit in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. The U.S. immediately stopped funding UNRWA. Seventeen other countries followed suit, withholding aid in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, an act of unparalleled cruelty.
The ICJ ruling directed Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide and ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The U.S. is violating the intent of the court’s ruling by providing weapons that are being used to kill Palestinian civilians and by preventing the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid. In my view, this makes the U.S. an active participant in genocide.
Sixty percent of Americans and three in four Democrats support a ceasefire in Gaza. Rep. Bill Keating, our Congressman, and a majority of U.S. Congress members are ignoring this demand.
The Gaza Health Ministry says that Israel has killed more than 27,000 people, including 11,000 children, with 7,000 more missing under the rubble, and has deployed internationally banned white phosphorus bombs.
According to numerous reports, Israel has targeted doctors, journalists, aid workers, ambulances, and pregnant women. It has bombed hospitals, schools, and universities, and destroyed 70 percent of Gazan homes. At least 17,000 children have no family left. The scale of destruction is some of the most devastating in modern history.
President Biden refuses to make military aid to Israel conditional on honoring the ICJ ruling. Without billions in U.S. military aid, Israel cannot continue this war. Biden must act now to stop the genocide.
The Wonder of Dark Skies
To the editor:
Thank you for Justin Samaha’s “Seeing the Light Under a Dark Sky” [Jan. 25, page B7].
As a youth, I took for granted the wonderful star-filled skies along the shores of Lake Michigan near Sheboygan, Wis. I didn’t notice the slow creep of light pollution until 1993, when my now-husband and I took a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. The night we arrived was clear and moonless. We spent hours gazing in wonder at the sky as the dark spaces between the stars filled with more points of light. I felt we were looking into infinity. When we travel now, I check darksitefinder.com to repeat that experience.
In June 2020, when most businesses in town were closed, and the glow from Boston was considerably dimmed, my friends and I would take late night walks in Provincetown. One night, over the jetty at Land’s End, a friend noticed the Milky Way. As we looked, more and more stars filled in the dark spaces.
The wonder of the dark skies had returned for a time to us on the Cape.
Provincetown and Boston
To the editor:
“Outer Cape Towns Institute Opioid Remediation Plan” [Jan. 25, page A6] reported on the allocation of settlement funds from lawsuits associated with the opioid epidemic. Many advocates have been seeking a portion of the proceeds to fund their activities. Some of the proposals, however, seem unlikely to be effective for preventing or treating substance abuse.
A search of the PubMed website of the National Library of Medicine using the key term “opioid abuse” identified more than 35,000 scientific articles. When the key term “stress reduction” was added, no scientific articles were identified. Adding the term “yoga” to “opioid abuse” identified two articles in the mind-body literature and a pilot study. Adding “art therapy” to “opioid abuse” produced only an anecdotal case study.
A reasonable conclusion is that no strong scientific evidence associates these activities with the prevention or treatment of opioid abuse. Scarce resources should not be allocated to interventions that lack convincing scientific evidence of effectiveness.
Ronald A. Gabel, M.D.