In his letter in the March 17 issue, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea says my imagined opposition to the full, free services of Philipstown’s building department “will have to remain a mystery.” To me too: I have never expressed opposition to shared services. The real mystery: Shea says these services will be provided “at no additional cost” to Nelsonville taxpayers. Impressive. Do these “free” services include lunch? Really, Mr. Supervisor, our citizens are smarter than that.
Shea says that Cold Spring agreed to shift its building department to the town. A triumph, I’m sure, but for whom? If I were mayor of Cold Spring, I’d be glad to hand off the hot potato of the Butterfield project. With a multimillion dollar lawsuit pending against Cold Spring, the supervisor better have legal counsel carefully review this agreement — it might be ticking.
Shea states I am ill-informed about government. Possibly. But during my business career I worked with U.S. House committees, a U.N. agency in Geneva, the European Union and New York state. I understand government and federalism. My letter was too polite and subtle — Shea missed the point. I said he was flirting with national political issues; the operative word is “political.” Prodded by Eric Stark, a local activist, Shea is embracing an ideologically charged agenda that can only provoke the same poisonous divisiveness infecting our national body politic.
I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Call me a peace party candidate — I want to promote the domestic tranquility of my community.
With no apparent irony, Shea proposes a “Citizens’ Bill of Rights,” a proposal that seems to be largely focused on non-citizens. Let’s drop the double-speak. He sponsors nullification of federal law and promotes enmity between federal and local law enforcement. Nullification was tried before — in the antebellum South against federal antislavery laws. The West Point Foundry is a reminder that this effort didn’t work out so well.
Stark warns that “time is of the essence” to pass this rights amendment, and Shea agreed. Let me soothe their hysteria. The helicopters they hear over the town are not carrying the dreaded jack-booted teams of federal agents ready to rappel down and invade local residences. It’s only West Point Cadets on maneuvers.
Shea states that he has sworn an oath to protect the health and rights of the people of Philipstown. I found this stirring but must admit I am unfamiliar with the supervisor’s oath. Is there anything in there about upholding the law?
As mayor, I will cooperate with Philipstown, but I will continue as a citizen to criticize Shea and any board member who diddles with silly politically correct straw men on the citizens’ dime.
Bill O’Neill, Nelsonville