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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: June 1, 2023


To the Editor:

I am writing to announce my enthusiastic endorsement of Gerry Siller for his reelection. Make no mistake: this is a work of unvarnished satire. Allow me to explain.

First, Mr. Siller’s commitment to a lack of transparency about policy questions — both large and small — is unparalleled. How often must he explain that, if Town Board issues are discussed in public, residents will “crawl out of the woodwork” to provide substantive facts and constructive opinions, only to derail his well-intentioned plans.

Let’s face it, transparency is “undemocratic” and we can have none of that if we’re going to “get things done” in this town.

Second, to his credit, Mr. Siller is appalled by “hate speech,” which he defines as any speech by a resident lasting more than three minutes. But to show his commitment to free speech, he generously allows his fellow Town Board members to speak freely until the ferries shut down for the evening.

Third, Mr. Siller has often insisted: “I am not a bully,” a claim reminiscent to those of us old enough to remember the words, “I am not a crook.” In this one instance, I part ways with Mr. Siller. Of course, he is a bully. We need a bully to lead this Town. And it’s not important where he leads us, as long as he leads us.

Finally, Mr. Siller has done what no other supervisor has done. He has by-passed the N.Y. State Constitution and appointed a 6th unelected Town Board member, the honorable Stephen Kiely.

While Mr. Kiely doesn’t get to vote, it’s safe to say that he has had more influence on Town policy than COVID-19. And, Mr. Kiely is no “Yes man” — when Mr. Siller says “No,” Mr. Kiely says “No.”

Thanks, Gerry. Keep up the good work (until November).

BOB KOHN, Shelter Island

A change of mind

To the Editor:

I am a resident and voter in Shelter Island for 25 years and have always voted for the person (not the party) that I felt was the best candidate.

I have voted for Gerry Siller each time for supervisor in his latest reincarnation of his political career. I will not be voting for him again, and I would like to explain my reasoning.

Each year in office in his latest stint as supervisor, Mr. Siller has, in my mind, moved further and further into the role of autocrat, if not dictator. He seems to rarely entertain any disagreement with his pre-formed opinion or point of view.

He takes credit for others’ work as if it is his own exclusively. He times his decisions and pronouncements in a manner that benefits him politically and not the town — the latest ferry fare increase proposal is an example. He uses the phrase “transparency” frequently, but he is not open and forthwith.

He acts in just the opposite manner. I simply cannot abide the supervisor that he has become. I will no longer vote for him or support him.

I am also very confused about whether he really wants to continue as supervisor. Here’s what I’m hearing: First he was not going to run again. Then, when Gordon Gooding announced he would run, Mr. Siller changed his mind and decided to run again.

Now it is my understanding that he has said that, if elected, he will actually stay as supervisor.

I look forward to the debates and to having my questions answered about Gerry Siller’s real intentions. However, I will no longer support him with my vote.

BOB FREDERIKS, Shelter Island

Einstein’s cousin

To the Editor:

The School Board has decided not to wait for the Town Board to act on septic waste. In collaboration with BBS it has formulated its own plan to dispose of the waste generated by its students and employees. Meanwhile the Town Board continues to haggle about its grandiose plan.

The school’s plan can process the waste of about 300 people; the town’s plan would handle about 20 or 30 employees. The school’s plan would cost $1.4 million, the town’s plan about $3.6 million.

It might be prudent to inform the town engineer and Mr. Lombardo that their services are no longer required and ask BBS to increase the capacity of their plan about 10% to handle the town’s septic waste.

It is remarkable that the school can devise a plan while the town with all its committees and consultants cannot pull the trigger.

The town is facing many problems: clean water, septic waste, affordable housing, and rewriting a long- term plan. We are no closer to solving any of these problems than we were two years ago. You need not be Einstein’s cousin to deduce that the management system is dysfunctional.

There are a bunch of very smart people on the Comprehensive Plan Committee. If these folks can’t get their act together and address this problem, we face a dire future.

Just as we sat back and watched while pristine Fresh Pond deteriorated into a polluted “Sludge Pond” and did nothing about it other than install a “No Swimming” sign, we are slowly drifting into a situation where we not only buy our drinking water at the IGA, but will have to truck in water clean enough to take a shower.

DAVID OLSEN, Shelter Island

It’s the guns, stupid

To the Editor:

As a follow-up to the excellent, well written essay by Nancy Green on guns and children (May 11), as a veteran and physician from a level one trauma hospital in Chicago, I make the following proposal:

The problem is the guns — so it should be made illegal in the U.S. to own or manufacture semi-automatic weapons that load from beneath the frame. This would exclude the use of high capacity ammunition clips, AR-15s, AK-47s, etc., which are the favorite weapons of mass killers, and would also ban Glock, Sig-Sauer, Beretta and similar handguns, the instruments used in most homicides and suicides.

None of these are for “sport” shooting; they are engineered to kill humans. Not Bambi or mallard ducks. 

Deer rifles, shotguns and Smith and Wesson 38 mm “detective revolvers” could be exempted for those living in rural areas. It will be much cheaper in the long term to fund a national buy-back of all these weapons than to pay the annual recurring health and funeral costs due to the current endemic of gun violence.

Anything less than this is akin to trying to stop a major arterial hemorrhage with Band-Aids. To paraphrase President Clinton speaking about the economy: “It’s the guns stupid, it’s the guns.”

Let us not wait to act. We do not want Uvalde to be replicated on Shelter Island or some nearby town on the North Fork.

JIM WEBSTER, MD, Shelter Island