At the candidates forum for office seekers held Sunday at the school auditorium, Gary Gerth, candidate for supervisor, asked incumbent Supervisor Jim Dougherty why the results of a survey asking residents questions related to deer and tick issues would not be released until after Election Day.
Mr. Dougherty said, “I’m ready to go.”
But Mr. Dougherty, according to Police Chief Jim Read, had told him the results should be released November 8, the day after Election Day.
On Monday, Chief Read said, “It was a shared decision based on scheduling.”
Later, during the forum, incumbent Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams said the original plan had been to release results of the survey at a meeting of the Deer & Tick Committee, but those meetings are not televised, as are Town Board work sessions, and the latter would be the best venue to release the results to the public.
After the forum, Ms. Amber Brach-Williams said she had first heard of a November release date on Sunday, and thought the results would be released some time in October.
Chief Read said Monday that he had a conflict for the October 24 work session and Mr. Dougherty told him there were too many items on the agenda for the scheduled October 31 work session, which left, he said, “November 8 as the earliest date.”
Councilwoman Chris Lewis said Monday that releasing results after the election is “a really bad idea. In what universe did anyone think that was a good plan? It looks like they’re being disingenuous with the information.”
Some questions in the survey have to do with the funding of the 4-poster program — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin. The program has raised public health questions from some residents, as well as concerns that financing the program is ineffective in reducing ticks and the diseases they carry.
Mr. Dougherty, a staunch advocate for 4-posters since their introduction here in 2008, has lobbied successfully for hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state to fund the program.
In an emailed response to questions, Animal Control Officer Beau Payne, who organized the survey, denied there was any political motivation in delaying the release until the day following Election Day.
He cited reasons that the survey is still being processed and repeated Chief Read’s understanding that the October 31 work session agenda was filled.
“Miring the release in some political brouhaha is a disservice to the hard work and genuine effort many have put in thus far,” Mr. Payne wrote. “The survey is intended to provide community input to the elected decision makers, whomever they be.”
The point that results can’t be processed soon was countered by committee member Marc Wein.
“There is no reason for the release of the survey results to be delayed,” Mr. Wein said. “The data is a short period of time away from being completely tabulated. It is important in building our budget. It is important in electing our representation. What is the delay?”
The board wrestled with questions to include in the survey, and then in August, shortly before the survey was to be sent to residents, a full-page ad in the Reporter paid for by the Shelter Island Association sparked Mr. Dougherty’s anger.
At a work session, Mr. Dougherty called one part of the ad about 4-posters “wildly inaccurate,” “irresponsible” and that he had a “moral obligation” to dispute some claims in the copy.
The ad was set to run one more time, but the Reporter asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to review it and was advised not to publish it because of inaccuracies and information that was “not sufficiently supported.”