On the first truly muggy day of the year and no air-conditioning at Town Hall, it’s appropriate the discussion got heated.
Two members chose Tuesday’s Town Board work session to accuse each other of rudeness, incivility, personal attacks and lying.
Tension between Councilman Paul Shepherd and Supervisor Jim Dougherty simmered throughout the long meeting, boiling over near the end during the “around the table” section where each member can bring up items not on the agenda.
Councilman Shepherd began a report on a meeting Monday of the Conservation Advisory Council, where he’s the Town Board liaison. There had been some confusion on the location of a collection of photographs of Sachem’s Woods, a parcel the town has purchased to preserve. Mr. Shepherd said he was trying to track it down, when Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar said she had it.
Mr. Dougherty said that Mr. Shepherd had been trying to “pin” the misplacement of the photographs on him. “You’ve been sending emails for two days, saying ‘I gave it to Jim,’” Mr. Dougherty said.
Mr. Shepherd noted that Mr. Dougherty was “the oddest creature.”
“That’s rude, too,” Mr. Dougherty said, repeating a characterization he’d made of Mr. Shepherd earlier in the meeting. “You’re a rude person.”
Turning to face to face his colleague, visibly angry, Mr. Shepherd said, “Jim, you better stop with the personal attacks, the ad hominem business.”
“I learned it from you,” Mr. Dougherty responded. “You’ve been doing ad hominem attacks since you got here.”
“That’s a lie,” Mr. Shepherd countered, his voice rising. “You really be careful, all right?”
“I’m a pale shadow of you,” Mr. Dougherty said.
When Mr. Shepherd started to give a report on the CAC meeting, he was interrupted by the supervisor, who said. “We’ve got to be civil here and we no longer are. I’ve gotten so many complaints.”
Mr. Shepherd said, “Interesting, I get the same about you.”
“Well, the Dory,” Mr. Dougherty said.
Mr. Shepherd didn’t respond, and Councilwoman Chris Lewis asked to “just go to the meeting, can we please?”
The video technician for Channel 22 said he had to change tapes.
“Send the tape to Don King,” Councilman Ed Brown suggested, referencing the notorious boxing promoter.
Later Mr. Shepherd told the Reporter he regretted the incident, which should be taken in the context of a heated discussion.