At their January 9th meeting, the trustees of Cayuga Heights took just four minutes to discuss and unanimously approve Local Law J, a controversial measure which will permit out-of-town deer-killing contractors to carry and discharge loaded firearms at undisclosed locations and times throughout the Village. Those in attendance were not only shocked by this, but also by the conduct of the meeting itself. The behavior of the mayor, the trustees, and the Village attorney demonstrated in no uncertain terms why so many people have lost all confidence in the Supron administration. The events listed below were captured on video, and also personally witnessed by numerous members of the media and dozens of concerned citizens who packed Marcham Hall to overflowing, nearly all of whom were there to express their opposition to Local Law J.
1. Board of Trustees walks out on the public
Within moments of opening the meeting, Mayor Supron temporarily shuts it down, while she and all the trustees file out of the room to hold a "private session” with the Village attorney. There is no indication of how long they will be absent, or why this must be done before members of the public are allowed to speak. The minutes tick by. Some people decide they cannot wait any longer and leave. 40 minutes elapse. Finally, the trustees emerge. No apology is offered for keeping an entire meeting hall full of people waiting for so long.
2. Citizens are blocked from expressing their concerns
Two of the 15 or so people called on to speak during “privilege of the floor” use some of their allotted time to request that the trustees relax their usual 30-minute limit for public comment in order to enable everyone who had come to speak to do so. These individuals point out that the only public hearing on Local Law J was held at 9 am on a weekday right before Christmas, a time when most of the public would find it difficult or impossible to attend, and that the trustees themselves have just made everyone wait 3/4 of an hour to be heard. Regardless, Mayor Supron decides to stick rigidly to the 30-minute time limit and swiftly moves on to the next agenda item, silencing a substantial number of people who had hoped to weigh in on this controversial measure about to be voted into law.
3. Village Attorney makes incorrect and misleading statements about basic facts
Village Attorney Randy Marcus attempts to dismiss concerns that Local Law J is being voted on without adequate public discussion. He insists that “it’s never been a mystery, there’s not been any other alternative that’s been seriously considered up to this point in regard to the killing of the deer, other than by shooting,” and that “it was absolutely clear” in the Village’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) “that that was what the EIS was reviewing, the shooting of deer.” What Attorney Marcus fails to acknowledge is that Net & Bolt slaughter -- not the shooting of deer -- is what dominated the public debate during the months that the EIS was being reviewed and commented upon. Indeed, the Net & Bolt slaughter technique was referred to 77 times in the final Environmental Impact Statement, both in comments made by the public and by village representatives — more than TWICE as many times as shooting was mentioned.
In fact, Attorney Marcus's misleading claim that shooting was the only option “seriously considered” for killing deer in Cayuga Heights is contradicted by several different kinds of documentation. The letter included in the EIS from NY’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) specifically lists the net and bolt technique as one of the options available to the Village. And Mayor Supron’s own comments from TV and radio interviews that aired during the time the EIS was being publicly debated indicated that she and her fellow trustees were actively promoting Net & Bolt as an alternative to shooting, due to safety concerns that had been raised by members of the public at hearings -- concerns that, incidentally, she and her fellow trustees have never publicly addressed.
Indeed, the contiguous video record that CayugaDeer.org has created over the last three years in Cayuga Heights shows without question that there has been shockingly little public discussion amongst the mayor and trustees about the detailed policies and procedures, and myriad safety issues, associated with carrying out a backyard shooting program. Numerous commonsense questions detailed in this letter and handout (See http://www.cayugadeer.org/pdfs/CayugaHeightsLetter.pdf ) recently sent by concerned residents to their neighbors have NEVER been adequately addressed by the Village administration in print, at public meetings or forums, or in the media. Hence, contrary to Village Attorney Randy Marcus's representations, residents are justified in their concerns about the recklessly inadequate process used to publicly evaluate and approve Local Law J.
4. Local Law J is unanimously approved by Cayuga Heights trustees after four minutes of discussion
Despite the public outpouring against Local Law J expressed at both the December 21st public hearing and the January 9th monthly meeting of the Village Board; despite the many reasonable questions raised during these meetings, and also by a group of 67 residents who sent out a mailing to the entire village; and despite many residents’ pleas to keep the community safe for their children and grandchildren, there is no discussion about any safety or ethical issues before the trustees take their vote, no public dialogue or debate amongst them. The new law is unanimously approved in the blink of an eye, leaving some in the room shaking their heads with amazement, others in shock and disappointment. The implication is either that the mayor and trustees have carried out their deliberations on Local Law J behind closed doors, in violation of NY State’s Open Meetings Law, or that they simply do not find this controversial measure, with considerable public safety implications, worthy of substantive discussion before taking a vote. The very few statements offered up by members of the Board prior to the vote only serve to rationalize its passage, not to encourage critical thinking, policy analysis or rational debate.
To get a feeling for how surreal it is that Local Law J, impacting the safety and quality of life of all who live in the Village, would be passed by this group of trustees in just four minutes, consider the video below, which documents a discussion amongst this same group of trustees about whether pieces of string strung between poles should be considered "a fence." In this case of "the great string debate," a matter most people would consider too trivial to warrant any discussion at all, the trustees focused their attention on the most minute of details, on and off, over a period of 30 minutes.
To be bored to tears from these narcissistic, apathetic people: view video, go to: http://vimeo.com/33960707
Send email, fax, or call the Mayor and tell them in your own words of a few short sentences how barbaric and uncivilized and unacceptable to kill the Deer, especially with captive bolt. You can also ask them to use contraceptive methods to control any Deer population problems they might have. Thank you so much, and the Deer Thank you.