Doug Learman, Goodbye

Dear Islanders,

To think is to differ

Lawyer and civil libertarian Clarence Darrow is credited with this saying: “to think is to differ.” It encapsulates what lies behind many debates, meetings, and discussions. Please let me explain. Gather a room full of intelligent minds, open a topic for discussion, and you’ll find that they rarely agree. In fact, they may have completely different priorities and values while all individually working toward what they believe is the common good.

I differed often with Doug Learman

Doug Learman, head of Code Enforcement, has served the town of Grand Island for 30 years. His name strikes trepidation into the hearts of some, but Doug has devoted so much time and energy to excelling at what he does that he deserves recognition.

I have only worked with Doug for about 18 months. In the beginning, we tried to get along, but differences of opinion arose. In short, we’ll never be best friends. And that’s okay.

Spock vs. Kirk

If we lived in the world of Star Trek, he would be Spock, and I would tend more toward a Captain Kirk-like persona. I’m a far less charming and handsome Captain Kirk to be sure, but you get the idea. Doug’s absolute adherence to his interpretation of rules and regulations often rubbed me the wrong way, and sometimes caused strife. But I’m sure my cut-through-the-red-tape-with-a-phaser approach drove him nuts too.

But there is no doubt that his commitment to his career is second to none. I have a huge amount of respect for the dedication with which he mastered his craft. Doug’s attention to detail and knowledge of New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code, plus of course, Town Code, is downright impressive.

We might not always agree, but hopefully our heated debates have resulted in some positive outcomes for Grand Island. I especially enjoyed working with him on Dunlop renovation project. Although we fought there too, it’s finally working out. That beautiful building will reopen—I promise.

Good luck on your future adventures

Doug and I will never get to form the type of bond shared by Kirk and Spock. I will never see if there is a dry sense of humor behind his Vulcan veneer. Nor will I stand behind a protective wall while we share a loving handshake of friendship as the Enterprise reactor melts down—see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Sorry to go full nerd. Oh well. At least I got to see that he’s no hack. Doug is wickedly smart, knows his code, and would be an asset to any debate team.

Thank you, Doug, and I wish you the best of luck in retirement. You are still a young man. I’m sure with your talent, precision, and work ethic you will find plenty of great new adventures for yourself, maybe in a not-so-distant star system…

With highest regards,


P.S. I know you think you’re Kirk, but this is my letter, so I get to be Kirk, and Rus Thompson is Han Solo.