In a press release Thursday morning, Supervisor Jim Dougherty switched course and said results of the deer and tick survey conducted by the town would be given to the public before Election Day and not after, as originally planned.
In his statement, Mr. Dougherty said the change was made after reading an editorial in the October 12 Reporter.
Originally, the results of the town-wide survey were scheduled — the public learned at Sunday’s Candidates Forum — to be aired at a Town Board work session on November 8, the day after voters had gone to polls.
In his statement Thursday, Mr. Dougherty said, “I notified Chief Jim Read a few minutes ago to work with [Animal Control Officer] Beau Payne to do whatever it takes, overtime etc., to have the survey results in my colleagues’ hands October 29 or 30, for inclusion on the October 31 work session agenda.”
Mr. Dougherty noted that the work session on that day had an “extraordinarily crowded agenda … But we will just put in the time and get the job done.”
Here is the editorial that appears in the October 12 print edition of the Reporter:
The community owes a debt of gratitude for the efficiently managed, civil and informative candidates forum Sunday that was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Shelter Island and the Shelter Island Association.
Both organizations — especially the League — believe and act on the principle that politics and government should be an open and fair discussion of issues.
If only those in power believed the same thing.
Many people left the forum on Sunday a bit stunned by news that the results of a survey sent to residents asking them to weigh in on deer management and the control of ticks won’t be available to the public until after November’s election.
Irony doesn’t begin to describe the fact that the date chosen for the release of the results is exactly one day after Election Day.
An unmanageable deer herd and the belief that a proliferation of ticks creates a public health crisis has a broad consensus on the Island. Supervisor Jim Dougherty is a staunch, vocal defender of the 4 -poster program — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — lobbying the state for hundreds of thousands of dollars for the program and pushing budgets that use local tax money to support it.
But the 4-poster program has detractors who are equally strong and vocal, questioning the health consequences of permethrin and the effectiveness of the program in reducing ticks. These advocates call for more aggressive culling of the deer herd to solve the overall problem.
Results of the survey might indicate that a majority of people don’t think 4-posters are doing the job, or perhaps just the opposite. Either way, it seems Mr. Dougherty doesn’t want to deal with it as he campaigns for a sixth term as supervisor.
Reasons given to delay letting the public in on the results until after the election is that there are scheduling conflicts between officials who have managed the survey and dates for Town Board work sessions this month.
But special Town Board meetings are easily scheduled.
In addition, Mr. Dougherty said a late October work session is too crowded with other agenda items for the survey results to be aired. This explanation, in particular, doesn’t pass the straight face test.
Animal Control Officer Beau Payne, who has done an exemplary job since coming on board, and has been an open and responsive source for the Reporter, said Tuesday that, “Miring the release in some political brouhaha is a disservice to the hard work and genuine effort many have put in thus far.”
Reasonable people can disagree and, with respect, we say that this misses the point completely. Tax payer money was spent to put out the survey, and from all reports, more than 1,200 people responded. Asking, during a political season, why information about a critical concern of the community is being embargoed until after voters go to the polls is not ‘miring” the issue.