Islip Supervisor Tom Croci has stripped Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt of her role as his deputy and installed a longtime public employee in the post.
The move reflects the major tumult enveloping the Republican-dominated board. Bergin Weichbrodt and three other board members filed resolutions on Tuesday to hold public hearings in a bid to diminish Croci's powers, in what some have described as an unprecedented power grab.
Croci asked Bergin Weichbrodt for her resignation after Tuesday's hearing and later swore-in Linda Angello, the town's director of labor relations. Angello, who worked in state government for decades before joining the town in 2012, will direct labor relations and serve as deputy supervisor, which is unpaid, town officials said.
"It's unfortunate that Supervisor Croci is putting his ego ahead of the needs of the people," Bergin Weichbrodt said in a statement. "This is clearly retaliation for a vote I took yesterday afternoon at the Town Board meeting to restructure Town government to better serve the community in the wake of Superstorm Sandy."
A pair of proposed resolutions supported by all board members except Croci would transfer control of hiring, firing and contract negotiations, among other responsibilities, from the supervisor to the board.
Town officials have said the resolutions were spurred by Croci's refusal to follow the hiring directives of Frank A. Tantone, the Islip Town Republican Committee chairman. Tantone has denied trying to force appointments upon anyone.
Croci said the proposals contradict New York State law. He has asked for legal opinions from the state attorney general and comptroller's offices to clarify the matter, for which a public hearing has been set for Feb. 12.
"The deputy supervisor's supposed to implement the duties of the supervisor," said Croci in a brief interview Wednesday morning. "And as they're weighing this, it's important that I have a deputy supervisor that believes in the current New York State law."
Town supervisor's have wide latitude in selecting a deputy supervisor, who in the supervisor's absence, resumes the supervisor's duties. The only qualifications for a deputy supervisor, according to state law, is they must reside in the town and be "qualified." The appointment is not subject to town board approval.
Angello, who began working for the town last January, was commissioner of the Department of Labor for New York State under Gov. George Pataki. She also served as chairwoman of the New York State Deferred Compensation Board.
From 1995 to 2001, she served as director of Employee Relations in the governor's office. Before her state roles, Angello served as chief of staff for New York State Sen. Caesar Trunzo.