Reporter Editorial: Time to chill and get back to work


Angry exchanges, ad hominem remarks and a threat to walk out.

No, not news from the banks of the Potomac but reports from the Shelter Island Town Irrigation Committee.

Just three weeks into a strong start with a sober approach to create a fact-based study on whether the town should implement a ban on certain irrigation systems, the committee charged with that duty went south with personality clashes better suited to grammar school.

When committee member Lion Zust resigned from the board, fellow member John Hallman complained that the Town Board had erred in replacing Ms. Zust with Robert Grosbard. In Mr. Hallman’s opinion, the board had replaced someone with no knowledge about water with someone else with no knowledge. Councilman Paul Shepherd, Town Board liaison to the committee, countered that it was intentional to appoint someone else with no particular knowledge of the subject.

The two men went at it for several minutes with Mr. Hallman threatening to leave before Committee Chairman Thom Milton called a halt to the back and forth. Mr. Milton wisely pointed out that everyone on the committee should be in a learning mode and calmed the waters to get the committee back on course.

It should be noted that members have worked hard for several weeks to dig out important information on the nature of the town’s water supply and updated technology on irrigation systems that could inform its recommendations.

That any of this hard work might be negated because of squabbling is worse than unfortunate, it could be fatal to the committee’s work unless tempers are held. At the previous meeting, Mr. Milton said he prized the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s a talent most members of Shelter Island’s boards and committees exhibit, and one this committee needs to develop.

An informed electorate
A good crowd turned out Saturday at the library to meet and greet two relative strangers to the Island. The hospitality was a forum for Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (Montauk-I,D,WF) and Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi (Southampton-R,C) sponsored by the Reporter, the League of Women Voters of Shelter Island and the Shelter Island Association. The two men are running to represent the Island in the Legislature, since we were redistricted from the North Fork district into the South Fork’s.

It was a good, lively exchange of ideas and positions from two sharp and capable politicians. We’ll watch and listen to Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Nuzzi over the next several weeks before election day before we choose to endorse one of them.

There’s no question, however, about the belief in the importance of an informed electorate that was demonstrated by the packed house of Islanders who came out Saturday and participated in the forum.