Islip Supervisor Tom Croci has stripped Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a fellow Republican, of her role as his deputy after she and three other board members filed resolutions that would diminish Croci's powers.
Croci asked Bergin Weichbrodt for her resignation after Tuesday's hearing and later swore in Linda Angello, the town's director of labor relations. Croci said he chose Angello because of her vast government experience and "stellar record of public service."
Angello, who worked in state government for decades before joining the town in 2012, will keep her $90,000 post and serve as unpaid deputy supervisor, effective immediately, town officials said.
Bergin Weichbrodt was angered by her removal. "It's unfortunate that Supervisor Croci is putting his ego ahead of the needs of the people," she said in a statement. "This is clearly retaliation for a vote I took . . . at the Town Board meeting to restructure Town government to better serve the community in the wake of Superstorm Sandy."
In an interview Wednesday, Croci said the proposals to trim his powers contradict state law, and he wanted a second-in-command he could rely upon to take charge and uphold the statutes. "The deputy supervisor's supposed to implement the duties of the supervisor. And as they're weighing this, it's important that I have a deputy supervisor that believes in the current New York State law."
Croci has asked for legal opinions from the state attorney general and comptroller's offices to clarify whether control of hiring, firing and contract negotiations can be transferred from this office to the board. A public hearing on the resolutions is set for Feb. 12.
Town government sources 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.
The town board is composed of four Republicans, including Croci, and one Conservative.
Town supervisors have wide latitude in selecting a deputy, who in the supervisor's absence assumes his or her duties. The only requirement 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, 59, a registered Republican, said in a brief phone interview that Croci asked her to take the post Tuesday, and she immediately accepted.
Before working for the town, Angello was commissioner of the Department of Labor for New York State under Gov. George Pataki from 2001 to 2006. She also served as chairwoman of the New York State Deferred Compensation Board.
From 1995 to 2001, she served as the governor's director of Employee Relations. Before her state roles, Angello served as chief of staff for New York State Sen. Caesar Trunzo.
"I have over 30 years experience in government, and I hope to put that experience to real good use for all our residents," Angello said. "I want to be a real good resource. I don't need to get involved in all the political drama."