The chairman of Islip's Republican Committee has called the recent proposal by the Republican-dominated town board to strip Town Supervisor Tom Croci of many of his powers a "government issue," but did not respond to repeated requests for an interview about ensuing political drama.
Islip Republican Committee chairman Frank A. Tantone's only response after a town-issued news release Friday broke the news of the apparent power play was a text message Saturday that read in part, "This situation is between the four council members and the supervisor. This is a government issue. They are more than capable to speak for themselves."
When pressed, Tantone wrote, "Read the news release. That is it. Plain and simple."
Croci, who last week referred to "a political arm" aimed at making "puppets" out of board members, said Monday he had not spoken with the chairman.
"At this point, I still believe the good judgment and integrity of the board members will prevail and they will see that this is not in the best interest of the residents and town government," said Croci, a first-term Republican.
Board to weigh proposalThe board at Tuesday's meeting is set to take up the proposal, which would transfer control from the supervisor to the town board over personnel, labor relations and purchasing.
"I was honestly surprised that he was not in favor of it," Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said Monday. "If I was supervisor, I would want all my board members' hands on deck."
The stakes are high for the town's Republicans, who returned to power after the 2011 election ended five years under Democrat Phil Nolan. Bergin Weichbrodt and Councilman Steven J. Flotteron face re-election this year and likely will confront questions over the board's vote last year to raise town property taxes 28 percent.
While the board, which also includes Conservative Anthony S. Senft Jr., has voted unanimously on nearly all proposals, members have squabbled privately over a variety of issues, board members said.
Sandy cited as 'impetus'Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr., who said Tantone passed him over for supervisor in favor of Croci in the 2011 election, said Monday that superstorm Sandy and its aftermath served as an impetus for the proposal.
"After the storm . . . sometimes I felt like Chicken Little and not being heard," said Cochrane, who added that the proposal is not an attack on Croci, but a recognition of the "magnitude of the issues" facing the town.
"Tom thinks he can do it out of his office all by himself," Cochrane said. "But we're going, 'It's too huge.' Has it been a perfect marriage for a year? No, not at all."
Of Croci's comments about Tantone, Cochrane said, "I think he's backed into a corner. Tom did not get elected on his good looks alone . . . It's a team effort when you get elected." Croci declined to respond yesterday to Cochrane's comments.
Croci and Bergin Weichbrodt posted news of the brouhaha on their Facebook pages. Croci received statements of support in about a dozen comments under the post.
Commenters on Bergin Weichbrodt's page questioned the reasoning for the move. She answered some of the questioners, but eventually deleted the post.