To the Editor:
Last Sunday Gary Gerth, our new town supervisor, spoke at the annual State of the Town luncheon sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Shelter Island. Before Mr. Gerth spoke, the president of the League, Lois Morris, reminded us that this was a non-partisan event.
Mr. Gerth presented a glowing account of his past accomplishments and laid out a few broad policy objectives. To me his talk sounded more like a campaign stump speech than a report on the state of the town.
In the Q&A after the talk, one questioner said that the former supervisor, Jim Dougherty, had thought Lee Zeldin, our representative in Congress, had not done much for Shelter Island. He then asked Mr. Gerth what he thought of our congressman.
Immediately there were cries of “that’s partisan … we can’t have partisanship here … This is a non-partisan event, etc.” After some back and forth, Supervisor Gerth said, in effect, that Lee Zeldin is a really great congressman. I immediately thought, “Wow, that comment is partisan, too.”
I didn’t immediately speak up, but after a few more attempts at getting the question answered and being accused of being partisan, I entered the fray, addressing the supervisor, and saying his statement that Mr. Zeldin was a really great congressman seemed partisan to me.
I’ve been thinking about these exchanges. What’s wrong with being partisan?
I’ve been in education most of my life, working in many capacities. I want people I work with to be partisan — to think deeply about issues, situations and events, to have opinions and express them. Also — and this is the important and difficult part — to reflect on values and beliefs, listen carefully to perspectives other than their own, both out of respect for the other and to deepen their own understandings, and, of course, to be open to change.
I call this approach being constructively partisan. I’ve worked to practice this preach for much of my life. It’s not easy.
To me, the problem in many civic encounters and discussions today is not partisanship. Rather, it’s not wanting to listen to views different from our own, not behaving respectfully toward people whose perspectives differ from ours, and not challenging ourselves to keep investigating and reflecting on what we think and believe and why.
Here’s to constructive partisanship!
To the Editor:
As the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying, “Everyone is entitle d to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” So instead of relying on unreliable, scraped data, as Ms. DeRose does in “RegulatingAirbnbs” (Your letters, April 19), let’s get real about Airbnb’s community in Shelter Island.
Airbnb has approximately 110 hosts in Shelter Island, and 91 percent of these hosts share a single listing, with 98 percent sharing one or two listings. The typical host — 71 percent of whom are women and 23 percent of whom are over the age of 60 — share their space for just two nights a month. Indeed, 96 percent of Shelter Island’s “entire home” listings are rented for fewer than 60 days a year.
Indeed, 96 percent of Shelter Island’s “entire home” listings are rented for fewer than 60 days a year. This highlights how the vast majority of Island hosts are not absentee landlords, but are instead sharing their own home to make ends meet and age in place in the community they love.
The average Airbnb guest to Shelter Island is 40 years of age, with the average party of 3.0 people staying for 3.3 nights. Indeed, the vast majority of visitors via Airbnb are solo travelers, couples and families looking to spend a long weekend or thereabouts enjoying the history and natural beauty of the Island.
Airbnb has not given any campaign contributions in Shelter Island. We have activated our host community to stand up for their interests and the interests of small businesses that benefit greatly from the increased foot traffic resulting from the 2,200 inbound guests who came to Shelter Island via Airbnb last year.
We’re proud to foster economic opportunity for Shelter Island residents and business owners and look forward to another great summer travel season across Long Island and throughout the Empire State.
New York, New York
Mr. Meltzer is the New York head of public policy for Airbnb