Codger Column: A Christmas shortlist

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO The public meeting room of Town Hall.
The public meeting room of Town Hall.

A cheery berth for Gary Gerth
After the last several divisive years on the Island, as elsewhere, Codger wishes the newly-elected supervisor good tidings as he deals with a number of critical issues left over from previous administrations, including water quality, ticks, deer and that never-ending complication called short-term rentals.

During the campaign, Gerth came across to Codger as a mellow fellow who kept his cards close to his vest. His 33-vote victory was not a resounding mandate for change; obviously he has a near balance of supporters and doubters.

In the spirit of the season, however, Codger hopes all Islanders will make an effort to meet Gerth on common ground and that his calmness and tendency to be vague about his plans presages a steady, non-confrontational administration prepared to listen to all sides before making a decision.

A dash of humor for Big Bob Junior
Codger has never seen Bob DeStefano Jr., the newly-appointed town lawyer, smile. Maybe that’s because as head of the Shelter Island Republican Party, he carried an unfair burden — after all, he was not responsible for the current state of the nation. Or, more likely, he wasn’t smiling because Codger was asking him a question.

In any case, Codger hopes the mood lightens for Big Bob as the legal eagle of Town Hall and its new supervisor, whose campaign he ran. Humor will be important, especially as he comes up against the inevitable lawsuits, some existential — is that a stealth hotel you’re running in a residential neighborhood? — and some merely hilarious, such as Jack Kiffer’s call for a head. Whose head?

That was a joke.

Kiffer is demanding a public restroom across from his Dory bar and restaurant to keep those non-paying tourists out.

A truck lane slowed for St. Mary’s Road

After hearing complaints from residents, Codger creep-drove on St. Mary’s and was tail-gated and horn-blasted by bullying vehicles that had jumped off Route 114 to make up a few seconds on the Episcopal straightaway en route to South Ferry.

Residents are right to be concerned. While Chief Jim Read, who is on the case, says that lowered speed limits sound nice but rarely have an effect, maybe a speed bump or two could keep the trucks on the state highway where they belong. And reduce the anxiety level.

A neat yard for Jay Card
Codger has always appreciated the highway superintendent as one of the Island’s hardest working town officials, as well as an innovative one, not to mention an inspiring life as varsity basketball coach and a sometime caddy for his son, Jay III, a rising star golfer.

But Codger has also been struck during his own waste management runs at just how organized and, yes, tidy, Card’s crews keep the Recycling Center (“Don’t call it a dump,” growls Jay.) If a repository of our garbage and debris can be so orderly, why are there so many messy properties around the Island?

Our outgoing supervisor, Jim Dougherty, brought that up, particularly about Route 114 (maybe that’s why trucks avoid it) and was ignored and criticized in the tumult of other controversies. If our “dump” is not a dump, why should anyone’s space look like one?

A compassion spree for Rep. Lee Z
Codger applauded when Congressman Lee Zeldin, voted against the new tax bill, albeit for narrow, political reasons. Long Islanders will be particularly hard hit by any loss of state and local tax deductions. But Zeldin’s record on other matters that affect his constituents is not so explainable.

He was a co-sponsor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act which means that a sneak gun permit in any state is valid in every other state. That means you could be drinking in the Dory (just to use the restroom) when a touron from Texas barrels in with a legal Glock in his pocket and hijacks the john.

What’s Jack or Big Bob going to do about that? Even worse, Zeldin voted “Yea” on the American Health Care Act to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act, damaging an important safety net for many on the Island, especially its elderly population.

In general, according to the statistical site FiveThirtyEight, Zeldin votes almost 90 percent of the time in line with President Trump’s position. In the spirit of the season, maybe Zeldin could vote more often in line with humanity’s position.

A chocolate kiss for Lady Chris
Codger was sorry to see the steady, smart, common-sensical Chris Lewis retire from the Town Board, then cheered to learn she’s joining the Senior Citizens Foundation, for which she had been town liaison.

Her replacement as council member exudes such a welcome serenity that Codger looks forward to getting to know him.

Thus … A few more clicks on Albert Dickson.