Islip Supervisor Tom Croci has appointed a new deputy supervisor after the Town Board voted to move forward with a proposal that would strip him of administrative powers.
Croci removed Councilwoman Trish Bergin-Weichbrodt of her deputy supervisor title and named town employee Linda Angello, of Islip, to succeed her. She will begin her duties as Croci's deputy supervisor immediately. Angello's appointment does not require the town board's approval.
Angello began working for the town in 2011 as director of labor relations for the Town and will continue this role as new deputy supervisor, which is an unpaid position. She served as the former commissioner of New York State's Department of Labor under Gov. George Pataki.
"As the Town Board is weighing New York State Town Law and the role of the supervisor, I want our residents to rest assured that there is stability in their Town government," said Croci, a Republican.
Four Town Board members — three Republicans and one Conservative — on Tuesday voted in favor of holding a public hearing February 12 to debate a pair of resolutions that would strip the Town supervisor of several powers including the hiring and firing of personnel, contract negotiations, purchasing powers and other administrative duties. Those powers would then fall to the Town Board as a whole, which the supervisor is a member of and has a vote.
"I believe that this resolution will make us more accountable to all residents. It's not one person who will be making the decision, but five people will be making the decisions," said councilman Anthony Senft.
Croci said the proposed actions violate New York State Law. He asked Town Attorney Robert Cicale to seek legal opinions from state's attorney general and comptroller on the matter.
Some residents at Tuesday's Town Board meeting questioned the motives of the four council members.
"I truly wonder what the reason (is) to usurp some...of his responsibilities," said Maureen Budington of Ronkonkoma. "Quite frankly I don't buy the generic response it is for constituents, I tend to think it is more about having the individual power and ability to patronize one's own districts and voters and cater to their requests."
Others also came out in defense of Croci, supporting his leadership despite a tough budget season where homeowners saw a 28 percent tax hike.
"I don't understand why you are taking power away from someone we voted for and have confidence in," said Sylvia Graf of Brentwood.