Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s band has been pulled from the lineup for the town’s annual summer concert series, a town official said Wednesday.
The sudden removal of the Republican’s band was announced the day after he defended its participation in a heated exchange with a Democrat running for town board.
On Tuesday night, the town board approved the Music Under the Stars concert lineup, including the Joe Saladino Band, which had agreed to play for free, in a split vote.
Before the vote, Robert Freier, an executive recruiter from Woodbury and Democratic town board candidate, said Saladino was using the event to promote his campaign for supervisor. The election is Nov. 7.
“You are running for election . . . yet you are self-promoting yourself by playing in a band with . . . town workers there,” Freier said.
Saladino responded that his actions were legal.
“We’re playing as a donation to the town,” he said, telling Freier: “You don’t have to attend. Does the public want free music?”
As the exchange drew howls, Saladino chided members of the public.
“I didn’t come down from Albany to entertain a circus and, quite frankly, some people in this room should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
The concert series in recent years has featured big-name acts like Blood Sweat and Tears, and Gloria Gaynor, and six-figure budgets for performers. In February, the board approved spending up to $205,000 to rent sound, light and stage equipment for this summer’s series, but the performers’ budget approved Tuesday dropped to $71,500.
Deputy Supervisor Gregory Carman said Wednesday that he and the commissioner of community and youth services, Maureen Fitzgerald, had decided before Tuesday’s meeting that Saladino shouldn’t play to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
“He may not have known at the time” of the meeting that his band had been cut, Carman said.
Carman, speaking on Saladino’s behalf, said the supervisor wanted to save the town money by having his band play for free.
John Conklin, spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections, said an official’s performance at a concert by itself wouldn’t run afoul of election law.
“He is presumably appearing as the town supervisor at a town event, not in his capacity as a candidate,” Conklin said in an email.