OAK BLUFFS — Should President Obama want to meet some year-round local residents when he arrives on Martha’s Vineyard tomorrow, he might consider a stop at the Oak Bluffs landfill, one of the few places the tourists generally don’t tread on this picturesque island.
In keeping with New England tradition, the local landfill is also a dumping ground for town news and gossip, and a place where opinions are easy to come by.
“The president should go someplace else,” said June Ferreira, a Highway Department employee who oversees trash and recycling drop-off by residents. “They block off our streets when he wants to go somewhere. What good does that do us?
“I think he’s got other pressing things he should be doing. Other people don’t have jobs—take care of that first.”
Ferreira is 60, deeply tanned, and has a loud, raspy laugh. She was born and raised on the island, descending from a family that has been here for a century or so. She used to have a job driving a school bus on the mainland, but gave it up when her father, now 88, developed dementia, because she doesn’t want to be far from him, she said.
Now she rarely goes off-island, except sometimes for groceries. “It’s just too expensive to buy them here,” she said.
A steady flow of year-round island residents visit the dump.
Brian Hughes, 57, an island composer and musician, is glad that Obama is reviving the Vineyard’s tradition as the “Summer White House,” as it was referred to after President Bill Clinton’s many trips here.
“He’s the president—when he comes to Martha’s Vineyard, I think that’s great,” said Hughes, who performed in a singing group for the Clintons in one of their first presidential retreats to the island, in the early 1990s.
Hughes disagrees with critics that say the president sends a bad message by vacationing when unemployment is high.
“When the president is vacationing, he’s working,” said Hughes. “He doesn’t get a vacation, he gets a change of venue.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.