Frank Tantone, Islip Republican chairman, says talk of a split between himself and Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter by some party insiders is overblown and wrong.
The internal stir erupted after Carpenter without warning put forward a resolution firing Parks Commissioner Kerry Bassett, a job she only took over in January after working in the town attorney’s office. Bassett, a former deputy town attorney, was put in charge of the parks department amid the toxic dumping controversy over Roberto Clemente Park, in hopes that her no-nonsense style and legal background would help the town weather the storm.
But some say that style did not win her many friends in more routine day-to-day park operations.
Several town sources say Bassett was also in line to become a state Supreme Court law clerk, speculation Tantanone labeled “extremely premature.” It’s now a non-starter, because Tantone balked at the nomination when Conservatives made a cross-endorsement deal with Democrats.
While some town sources said Carpenter and the leader have clashed in private over personnel issues, Tantone said, “She’s in charge. She’s allowed to fire anyone she wants,”
The party leader said Bassett may have been “treated unceremoniously,” but added “I have no problem with what Angie did.” He said, “There may have been friction between them. She a very competent, aggressive attorney and its something that might have rubbed...the wrong way.”
While disappointed about the judgeship, Tantone claims to have no hard feelings toward Suffolk Conservative leader Edward Walsh. “He did what he felt he had to do,” said Tantone. “At least he called me before to give me a heads up.”
Tantone, elected for a new two-year term as town leader only days before the judicial putsch, blamed much of the internal rumbling to the fact he is no longer ready to exit. “I do get the sense that they were preparing for life after Frank,” he said.