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Supervisor responds to anonymous letters

Another round of mailings has been widely distributed opposing passage of a referendum to allow the Town to participate in a real estate transfer tax that would fund affordable housing.

This latest round is sent anonymously and repeats misinformation.

At least one Islander received a threat in an anonymous letter and reported it to the Police Department. 

They are signed “Anonymous” with an indication they won’t admit who they are because they “don’t want to be publicly vilified by the Town Supervisor.”

That raised the ire of Supervisor Gerry Siller who, in a statement at the end of Tuesday’s Town Board work session, took the sponsor(s) of these letters to task for being “cowardly and misleading.” Mr. Siller acknowledges there are people who regard him as “a dictator and a bully.”

He defended himself and the Town Board for efforts to advance Proposition 3, and said all Town Board members are committed to creating affordable housing with or without money that could be generated by the transfer tax payable by buyers of Island property.

“I’m fully aware that a lot of people don’t like me, my management style or my agenda,” Mr. Siller said. “To that I would say that I came back to this job to try to get some things accomplished that have been talked about, ad nauseam, for the past three decades, if not longer.”

To those who put out misleading and anonymous statements, he said if they believe in their views, they “should have the fortitude and strength of conviction to identify yourself and let people know where you stand.”

Throughout the anonymous letters distributed this week, there is political rhetoric that has no relationship to the housing issue.

“Shelter Island is its diversity,” Mr. Siller said.  “We have wealthy people, not so wealthy people and everyone in between. We have full-time residents, second homeowners and seasonal visitors. We have people who work year-round on the Island, people who live here and work off-Island, people who come to Shelter Island to work and a very large contingent of people who come to work here in the height of the summer season. The beauty has always been that all these different segments co-existed and supported the Shelter Island community.”

“Lies and anonymous letters have never been what Shelter Island is about,” Mr. Siller said. “We don’t do that. We are better than that.”

Councilman Jim Colligan said he thinks the state of the Town is better then the state of the nation, but decried that the truth no longer seems to matter.

Polarization is the greatest threat to democracy, he said. “There are people here on the Island who choose to divide us,” Mr. Colligan said.

Elected officials, volunteers and staff have all had to contend with disrespect from some members of the public and that needs to stop, he added.