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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Nov. 12-Nov. 19

From the Highway Benevolent Association

To the Editor:

This is a statement of facts about Town Councilman Jim Colligan’s abuse of power by trying to suppress town employee’s constitutional First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech;

On Monday October 19, Mr. Colligan did not approve of the presidential political flags flying on town employee’s private vehicles at the Shelter Island Recycling Center. These are direct quotes of what he said to town employees:

“What’s the deal with these flags?”

“You don’t see me riding around with my Biden flags and at work.”

“Tell everyone to take down those flags and that’s coming straight from Jim Colligan himself.”

“This is [expletive], you guys are making a political statement.”

“Don’t expect me to do any [expletive] favors for you”

Mr. Colligan knows you can have political signage on private vehicles on town property because he sees Supervisor Gerry Siller’s bumper sticker on his car outside of the Town Hall’s door entrance every day. Another instance was when, last year, Democratic Committee chairperson Heather Reylek along with Councilman Mike Bebon, and County Legislator Bridget Fleming were actively campaigning and soliciting votes in the Recycling Center, which is the same place these presidential political flags were flying on personal vehicles. 

There can be no tolerance for an employer to use their power to suppress an employee’s Constitutional 1st Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech. Jim Colligan’s inability to recognize and control his actions is why we have asked him to resign his position on the Shelter Island Town Board. 

RAY W. CONGDON III, President, Shelter Island Highway Benevolent Association

Editor’s note: The town, through an outside counsel, is investigating the event. Mr. Colligan said: “I will wait for the investigative report on the incident and will remind everyone that there are two sides to every story. I also will abide by the outcome of the investigation’s recommendations.”

Thank you, PBA and veterans

To the Editor:

We would like to thank the Shelter Island PBA for orchestrating and financing the Veterans Day placards admired by all in the center of town.

After the late and unfortunate cancellation of the traditional Veterans Day service, the PBA came to us with this exceptional gesture. Due to the short window between the cancellation and Veterans Day, the placards were created off the Legion’s 2020 roster of active members. We regret any omissions caused by the short turnaround required to get the signs created in time.

Looking to the future, we would be most welcoming of any new members who would like to join.

We request that those interested send a letter with your contact information to Mitchell Post 281, P.O. Box 2021 Shelter Island, NY 11964 or leave a message at (631) 749-1180. 

Thank you all for the outpouring of support. We hope to see you soon.

MEMBERS, MITCHELL POST 281, Shelter Island

Caring about the truth

To the Editor:

In response to the letter “Handling the truth (Nov. 12), I was taken aback by some serious falsehoods presented as “truth.” As a philosophy professor, I’m compelled to correct some of those errors, in the spirit of truth-seeking.

“Creating fear” is not a socialist agenda; it is a fascist one. Check the history of Germany, Spain, Italy in the 1930s. Look at socialist nations today, like Denmark and Sweden —  a climate of fear? I think not. Off-Island I saw a “Trump 2020: Make the liberals cry again” banner — ouch. Blocking traffic up and down the Island is intimidation tactics 101.

Regarding the “Democratic agenda:” The country was founded on a separation of church and state precisely to safeguard religious choices. The Democratic positions may not drag God into our politics for this reason. I know plenty of Democrats who are deeply religious and see the message of Jesus as embracing all, even outsiders, with compassion. Sanctuary cities and more open borders may actually be something Jesus would approve of. And references to biased news?  There are objective standards that measure news bias that one can consult for guidance.

My real concern is the trope of demonizing socialism. If you’re really anti-socialism, do not accept Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and certainly not the funds given many Americans to help them survive this pandemic. Wait, those are good programs?  Well, that’s socialism at work. Socialism is not the same as communism.  Democrats are not advocating for communism. 

Labeling President Trump as “brutally honest” is half right; he’s brutal to anyone who disagrees with him. Honest? How honest was he about the pandemic in March? How honest is he now as the virus surges? 

Finally, to the point of the letter. I liked the Codger column last week on the Trump banners at the dump. Yes, maybe Supervisor Siller could have handled that better, but I know as an employee I’m not allowed to display political banners in my office.

The letter ends with a conciliatory note. We can all get behind that, but we need to call one another out when we offer unfounded opinions. The letter writer and I care about the truth. I know I don’t fully have it, but misinformation needs addressing. We may be entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts.

WENDY C. TURGEON, Shelter Island

Giving thanks

To the Editor:

Here we are heading into Turkey Day with all kinds of new rules, It’s going to be interesting. But we here on Shelter Island have much to be thankful for. If I recall the Indians had something to do with the first one. (I will not go there).

This yard sale business: I watched the last Town Board meeting and all that banter. How about garage sales? Will they fall into the same category or is that a different issue?

I am a North Midway Road resident, and it seems that the South Midway Road resident who has been targeted always has some interesting stuff. As I do, and I will be having a garage sale soon. So, anyway let’s see how this all plays out, but it’s a big waste of time with more important issues to debate.

One of them: Plum Island. Who is the Shelter Island liaison with all of this, with the New York State Parks Commission, Town of Southold etc.? My thoughts are that now that Nancy Goroff has conceded, that she take over and turn the place into a Marine biology, ornithology, and any other kind of “ology” lab. She professes to be so concerned about the East End and her connection with Stony Brook University are screaming for her intervention. Let’s get this place preserved for all mankind and creatures great and small.

By the way, congratulations to Lee Zeldin. I’m sure he would jump on board with preserving the “Island of Plum” for all of us to enjoy. Confession time: Many years ago while out boating, I trespassed with my children. It was a gem of a place, magical actually, and I still have shells and some rocks as souvenirs.

Asking for a friend; where can I get a copy of a New York State mail-in ballot for her. I did absentee.

Thanksgiving Day 2020 will be remembered for a long time, a real day of giving thanks whether you’re having a turkey sandwich or a big bird.

Stay well, stay safe, and mask up.



To the Editor:

I‘ve witnessed two things lately that depressed me. Driving south on Midway Road, at the intersection with Lake Drive I saw that somebody had deposited their dog poop bag on the side of the road. Listen, I know from ample experience that picking up after one’s dog is a drag, but … really? 

How much effort would it have taken for the person to carry that bag 100 yards back home? I guess they either thought that, “Well, somebody else will pick it up” or they weren’t even thinking — that is, they weren’t thinking about anybody else besides themselves.

And, lately, I’ve noticed that the so-called Goody Pile at the Recycling Center has become a veritable dumping ground for, well, garbage. It’s strewn all over the place. I feel bad for the guys who work really hard at the dump (regardless of their politics) having to pick up after some thoughtless Islanders.

I don’t think I can assign that unfortunate trend to the idea that one man’s garbage is worth displaying at the “Shelter Island Mall” in the hope that it is another man’s worthwhile garbage. I think these two instance reflect a worrisome trend: people are more self-centered and give less of a hoot about other people than ever before.

C’mon people: I know it’s a hackneyed concept, but how about treating other people the way you’d like them to treat you?

SCOTT A. ROBBINS, Shelter Island

Reviewing records

To the Editor:

This serves as response to an Oct. 21 certified letter signed by the mayor of Dering Harbor, Patrick Parcells, to me as a former village trustee and mayor, demanding all my emails from July 2016 through June 2018.

The Village initiated its current email system in or about January 2018. From that time through June 2018 — my last month in office — my official emails were copied to either [email protected] or [email protected] and in most cases included a courtesy copy to one or more trustees — using either their personal email accounts or the village’s — including Mr. Parcells after I appointed him trustee.

From July 2016 through January 2018, official emails were copied to [email protected] as well as direct copies to the trustees.

The village and mayor should review their records to catalog them properly.

As the mayor and trustees continue to meet via Zoom conference — governor’s orders or not — with the purpose of protecting themselves and residents during the pandemic, it is unclear why the mayor would needlessly expose the clerk, requiring her to prepare correspondence by certified mail (with special steps and forms at the post office) when other options exist. Do the trustees (Kelsey, Benacerraf, Kelly, Goldfarb) support the mayor’s behavior during the rise of COVID cases?

In the event the mayor chooses to target … er, make demands on former village officials, I suggest Mr. Parcells do so at public meetings where he can discuss his reasons with the trustees, and where counsel can vet approved communication for legal and careless errors.

JOHN T. COLBY Jr., Shelter Island