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Councilman Paul Shepherd called ‘rude,’ ‘offensive,’ by resident

JULIE LANE PHOTO Councilman Paul Shepherd was called 'rude' and offensive at the Tuesday Town Board work session.

JULIE LANE PHOTO Councilman Paul Shepherd, shown here at an earlier meeting, was called ‘rude’ and offensive at the Tuesday Town Board work session.

At the end of the Town Board work session Tuesday, a resident took Councilman Paul Shepherd to task for what she termed his “rudeness,” “arrogance” and “downright offensive behavior” toward a colleague.

Mr. Shepherd gave as good as he got.

Barbara Allen-Lieblein referred to an article in the January 7 Reporter (“Town officials sworn in for new terms”). At the first board meeting of the year, Mr. Shepherd had disagreed with a suggestion by his new colleague Councilman Jim Colligan to forge a closer relationship between the board and the Shelter Island Association. Mr. Shepherd had dismissed the idea, saying he didn’t want to get “too bloody close to them.”

Tuesday he explained that he had “felt an immediate revulsion at the inter-weaving of the Town Board government with the Shelter Island Association, or any other association.” But he added that any association was welcome to come to the board and make a case. “I felt I had to say something about it,” Mr. Shepherd said.

Ms. Allen-Lieblein said Mr. Shepherd owed his colleague an apology for his attitude and language. “This is not a way to introduce a new member,” she said, comparing the exchange last week to “sniping” on the “national political scene.”

Mr. Shepherd said he hadn’t read the Reporter article. He often doesn’t read the paper, he said, “because it often reads like a train wreck and it might not be how I meant it.”

He had apologized to Mr. Colligan, he said, and did again at the meeting: “I apologize if any disrespect was perceived, Jim.”

Mr. Colligan said he appreciated Mr. Shepherd’s response and the matter was over.

“I like you,” Ms. Allen-Lieblein told Mr. Shepherd at one point in the discussion. “I’ve always liked you. I voted for you.”

“Before you flush me down the toilet because of something you read, maybe remember you like me and why you like me,” Mr. Shepherd said.