Codger: Think spring

CAROL GALLIGAN PHOTO

CAROL GALLIGAN PHOTO

Codger is concerned that the foul psychic weather settling over the country will spread east to our Island.

It’s getting impossible to separate national and local climate conditions.

Immigration policies announced in Washington affect us immediately and what seem like our local issues, such as short-term rentals, are hardly unique.

Consider this from a councilman: “What we don’t want is conversion of residential properties in a residential-zoned neighborhood to be used as a full-time short-term tourist lodge or motel.”

Did Paul Shepherd or Jim Colligan say that? Neither. That was from a Palm Springs, California, councilman, quoted this month in The New York Times.

Perhaps reflecting the national atmosphere, our Town Board members appear to be in a querulous mood, snapping at each other at meetings. The editor of this paper, Ambrose Clancy, termed it “obnoxious.” Thus, it was good to hear that Supervisor Jim Dougherty wanted to “heal the wounds” and Shepherd wanted to “turn down the heat.” At least they are not tweeting.

Meanwhile, our closest representative in Washington, Lee Zeldin, seems to be playing peekaboo with his constituents. How could he have been such a barking dog for candidate Trump, then such a shy pussycat with us?

And when he does say something about a hot topic it’s usually mind-bending, along the lines of it would be best for Syrians to stay at home in peace, as Codger heard on his Facebook call-in, as well as “Planned Parenthood is a sensitive issue.” You think?

Codger has to remind himself that spring will come after this chaotically overheated and cruelly cold winter, and that the snow will melt. Mr. Dougherty is easing off his total opposition to a code enforcement officer and Mr. Zeldin, during that over-controlled “town hall” Facebook meeting, invited a critic named Judy to come to his office and “hug it out.”

Codger thought that was charming but alarming since Mr. Zeldin is hardly ever available at his office. Would Judy have to hug a life-sized cutout or an aide?

You can feel the weight of the problem as we try to dig out of the dilemma. Everything feels overwhelming. The president, who Charles Blow of the Times called “the Pied Piper of pipe dreams,” shuffles and taps, keeping us entertained while his billionaires pick our pockets.

Our congressman offers dull and unsatisfactory get-togethers in which he appears comfortable only while talking about fishing (“This is great, have to keep doing it,” he says). And here at home our Town Board struggles to find a compromise. How about some common sense: Let residents use the houses they actually live in as short-term money-makers under enforced regulations?

Codger is trying out a new mantra: Not everything is a sign of the apocalypse. He likes to recall that big fuss over more and larger northside ferries a few years ago. Remember how they would carry hordes of barbarians to the Island and change our quality of life?

There will always be issues. The quality of our drinking water is going to loom larger as a critical concern, here and everywhere else, and the deer, ticks, and commuter helicopters are not going away anytime soon. Codger’s suggestion of teaching plovers to take down choppers and drones (three birds with one stoned notion!) garnered no support.

The Town of East Hampton is apparently taking to the Supreme Court its battle to wrest control of its airport from commercial aviation interests.

The immigration problem seems ironic as well as complex for an island with a history of slavery. Today’s foreign-born laborers weren’t dragged here against their will, they were welcomed to work hard, building and cleaning houses, landscaping grounds, toiling in restaurants, often exploited and always kept in line by being made to feel insecure.

As Julie Lane and Carol Galligan have so vividly shown in their Reporter series, even documented workers on the Island are made anxious by inconsistent and threatening federal policy.

Codger remembers that some years ago, as home prices rose, he frequently heard the half-joking remark that soon “only Mexicans and millionaires” would be left on Shelter Island.

If only millionaires are left, who will do the dirty work? Codger does not think he can afford to hire people from Ram Island or Dering Harbor to cut his lawn.
Think spring. In a recent inspirational message to her battered partygoers, Heather Reylek, the Democratic Committee Chair, said she took heart in finding a “diverse … refreshing” turnout of progressive organizations like Indivisible, Resist, and Let’s Visit Lee Zeldin sharing ideas as they pursued the “same result for different reasons.”

What result could that be? Potential candidates for the local 2018 elections, mental health counseling for tweeters, a political climate change?

Or just a reminder that spring will come and we can hug it out.

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