Kamala Harris hosts big-ticket fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard as high costs force workers, Natives to flee

Vice President Kamala Harris greeted supporters on Martha’s Vineyard Saturday on behalf of the Biden-Harris campaign.  Her arrival at the idyllic, high-priced Massachusetts resort was touted as a “grassroots fundraiser.” However, access to the VP, on an island in which 75% of voters pulled a lever for the Democrat ticket in 2020, cost as much as $10,000.  JOE CONCHA FLAMES KAMALA HARRIS OVER 2024 CONCERNS: ‘PROPAGANDA IN BROAD DAYLIGHT’ “I guarantee you not one working-class Democrat (was) invited to the Kamala event,” long-time Martha’s Vineyard homeowner, high-profile attorney and longtime Democrat supporter Alan Dershowitz told Fox News Digital. The big-ticket appearance underscored growing concerns, according to many long-time island residents, on an island overrun in recent years by powerful leftist elites who rule Washington D.C., and shape pop culture.  Martha’s Vineyard as a result, they say, is now unaffordable for the average person, increasingly hostile to both working-class residents and its Native Wampanoag population, and ruthlessly intolerant of opinions that run counter to hard-woke Democrat talking points.  “Martha’s Vineyard has been socially engineered for the elite of the Democrat National Party,” Jim Powell, a longtime Martha’s Vineyard teacher and union rep, told Fox News Digital.  Former President Obama and Michelle Obama purchased a $12 million estate on the island in 2019 after vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard several times while in the White House.  Robert Soros, son of billionaire Democrat donor George Soros, owned property on Martha’s Vineyard for years before selling it in 2020 following his divorce.  The Soros and Obama families are known to have a cozy relationship. Members of the Soros family had frequent access to the White House when Obama was in office. Former President Clinton made Martha’s Vineyard a summer retreat four times while president. The vice president’s sister, Maya Lakshmi Harris, owns a home in Edgartown and has hosted fundraisers there, according to local sources.  A long list of Democrat heavyweights have visited, vacationed or owned property on Martha’s Vineyard in recent years.  The average home sale price on the island was $2.1 million in the first half of 2023, according to market data from local realtor Tea Lane Associates. “Working people and young people have been forced to move off island,” said Powell, who is also a former local and state official and host and producer of “The Jim Powell Report” on Martha’s Vineyard Community Television. “People just can’t afford to live there. The price of food. The price of gas. People here call getting by each day ‘the grind.’” He said Martha’s Vineyard has become a “tax shelter” for Democrat leaders. The wealthy and powerful are enchanted by the largely rural island’s tranquil pace, stunning waterfront properties and one of the nation’s most favorable local tax environments.  LIBERAL CITIES, STATES STRUGGLE WITH TOUGH REALITY OF MIGRANT SURGE DESPITE WELCOMING RHETORIC The fiscal year 2022 tax rate in Edgartown was just 0.3%, according to local data. The tax rate in Chilmark is just 0.28%.  So wealthy Chilmark homeowners pay just $2,820 on each $1 million in assessed value. Each rate is among the lowest in the United States.  The island’s six municipalities have few social services, tiny police and fire departments, and small school systems. They share one high school.  Few expenses paired with astronomic real estate prices mean island communities can fund their thin budgets with taxes a fraction of those elsewhere in Massachusetts or around the nation. High demand for real estate from wealthy outsiders is accompanied by very low inventory. Much of Martha’s Vineyard is protected from development by a variety of public and private land banks, trusts and parks. So prices continue to soar.  Vineyard Haven, the common name for the town of Tisbury, is the commercial hub of the island. It was named the least affordable town in the United States in a report by LendingTree in 2021.  The median home value in Vineyard Haven was nearly 10 times greater than its median household income. Everyday items are already more expensive on the island than elsewhere because of the costs associated with shipping trailer trucks via ferry from the mainland. Meanwhile, a night out to eat at a casual restaurant for working families, a luxury even in less expensive parts of the country, is nearly impossible on Martha’s Vineyard. There are no affordable family-friendly chain restaurants or retailers on the island, which are banned by local zoning laws.  No Applebee’s, McDonald’s or Walmart. Nor is there a Dunkin’ Donuts, even though the popular coffee chain was founded in Massachusetts and is beloved and ubiquitous elsewhere around the state. Many local eateries close in the off-season and charge exorbitant prices to capitalize on the short three-month tourist season.  The island’s original Wampanoag Natives, many of them hunters and fishermen, are among those who can no longer afford to live on their tribal homeland. “Our tribal members are being forced to move off the island, and not just our tribal members — families that have lived on the island all their lives, for generations,” Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe, said in a 2021 interview with Boston public radio station WBUR. Martha’s Vineyard already suffers a lack of diversity, even with its Native community.  The 2020 U.S. Census reported that 89.2% of island residents are White, compared with nationwide population that was only 59% White.  The population of Martha’s Vineyard included only 0.5% of people who are non-U.S. citizens, compared with 13.5% of the population nationally.  The border crisis landed on Martha’s Vineyard last September, when 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants arrived from Florida, sent by Gov. Ron DeSantis, to highlight the challenges and strain on resources faced by southern states. The migrants did not find work or housing on the Island. They were instead shipped to the mainland in less than 48 hours as Vineyard residents washed their hands of responsibility to help.  “We have a major housing crisis as it is,” Rachel Hines, who works for the nonprofit Vineyard Preservation Trust, told Fox News Digital at the time. Working-class Vineyard residents are the hardest hit by shocking home and rental prices, lack of housing and high cost of living. TRUMP RALLY-GOERS REFUSE TO WAVER SUPPORT FOR FORMER PRESIDENT AMID LEGAL TROUBLES: ‘EVEN IF HE’S IN JAIL.’ Four firefighters on the tiny “on-call” department in Edgartown moved off the island in 2021 alone because of affordability issues, according to the WBUR report.  Others have left the island since, say local residents.  Mechanics, plumbers and healthcare workers are leaving, too.  “We are becoming a third-world country with the haves and have nots,” one long-time island resident told Fox News Digital. The Vineyarder works two jobs to make ends meet but declined to give their name for fear of retribution, including the loss of employment, for speaking out against the leftist orthodoxy that rules Martha’s Vineyard.  The resident has to move every six months because their employer offers housing only during tourist season, in a phenomenon known locally as “the Vineyard shuffle.” Other friends sleep in cars or tents.  “People are ultra-closeted about their views because they don’t want to lose their job or business,” the source said. Dershowitz, the powerful Harvard attorney and long-time Democrat supporter, provides a troubling example of what happens to islanders who stray from acceptable woke-party positions, statements or actions. Dershowitz arrived on Martha’s Vineyard for the first time in 1969, he said, to defend “liberal lion” Sen. Ted Kennedy following his scandal on Chappaquiddick, a remote part of Edgartown. Mary Jo Kopechne was killed in vehicle driven by the senator.  The celebrity attorney has since represented top Democrat insiders, including the notorious Jeffery Epstein, and vocally supported and befriended presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Obama. However, the island elite turned on him savagely when he represented then-President Trump against charges of Russian collusion starting in 2017.  Dershowitz has been kicked out his synagogue, denied opportunities to attend various book fairs and events – he is the author of three dozen books – dropped from the invite list of political leaders and operatives, many of whom he has counted as friends for decades, and been mocked by cartoons and editorials in island newspapers. “The Vineyard has become a totalitarian intolerant environment for dissenting views,” Dershowitz said.  “It’s a very poisonous place of woke people who are intolerant of working people,” he added.
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