Richard’s Almanac: Politics makes strange bed fellows


FILE PHOTO | Shelter Island Town Hall — where so many political opinions are shared.

We hear the stories and we read the reports of the Town Board meetings where short-term rentals are discussed. There seems to be a great deal of acrimony present on both sides of the topic. Strong arguments are given for both sides of the subject. 

Although the subjects are serious, these meetings are very calm compared to Town Board meetings in the past where name calling and hostility were quite common.

I remember when Barbara Keyser was the Town Supervisor and she and Reporter editor and publisher Bob Dunne were always at each other’s throats. He’d sit in the front row at Justice Hall with his sunglasses down on his nose and ask a loaded question. Madame Supervisor’s response would be to say that Bob was nothing but a yellow journalist. He did not like that.

The subject came up about whether or not residents should be able to keep domestic animals. When the topic was to be discussed, citizens packed Town Hall and brought their ducks and geese with them.

It never became an ordinance.

Barbara and Bob’s jousting came to a head one day when she awakened and found his large green, aging Pontiac in her driveway. Apparently, Bob had left the car in the Inn Between parking lot, not wanting to drive home. As with most cars on the Island, the key was always in the ignition. At closing time some of Bob’s friends took his car and left it in her driveway wishing to create a scandal.

Early morning drivers thought they’d made peace.

My phone rang about 8:30 a.m. with the supervisor yelling, “Come get your boss’s car out of here. One of his drunken friends left it in my driveway last night.”

There was an earlier board meeting when a proposed dog ordinance was being discussed. This was under a different supervisor. Some residents brought their dogs to the meeting. We did wind up with a dog ordinance.

Then there was a zoning proposal. It was very controversial. It had restrictions in it about what you could park in front of your house. It was too restrictive. For example, you could not have boats in full view — on an island.

It was not well received. The town supervisor at that time took the ordinance and burned it in a trash can in front of everyone at a meeting.

On another subject, Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli returned from an Alzheimer’s conference last  weekend learning the latest facts and figures on the disease, some of which are shocking and scary.

For example:

• There are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s

• One in three seniors dies from Alzheimer’s or other dementia

• The disease kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined

• Since 2000, deaths from heart disease have decreased by 14 %  while deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 89 %

• The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States