Obama Fever Cools on Martha’s Vineyard

Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 03:50 PM

By Andra Varin

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When Barack Obama spent his first summer vacation as president on Martha’s Vineyard, islanders went gaga. Now, not so much.

“I think a lot of people in ’08 felt, ‘Hey, here comes a breath of fresh air, and maybe this guy can put an end to a lot — not all of it, but a lot — of the foolishness that goes on,’’’ year-round resident and County Commissioner John Alley told The Boston Globe.

Although the Massachusetts resort island has a reputation as a playground for the wealthy, the local economy depends highly on tourism, which dropped during the recession and has not recovered yet.

Even in the high tourist season, nearly 700 of the roughly 16,500 year-round Vineyard residents are unemployed, the Globe said, citing state labor statistics. The unemployment rate hit 13.2 percent in January.

“Discretionary spending dipped so far down that it devastated retail and dining in particular,” said Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce.

As Obama vacations for a third year on the island, residents who were initially enthusiastic about his presidency admit he has not met their high expectations.

“I just have to say I feel really uncomfortable, because I love loving him,’’ real estate agent Leslie Pearlson told the Globe.

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