In a packed room at Islip Town Hall, among the booers and hollerers in the crowd during public commentary at Tuesday night’s board meeting, a Ronkonkoma man in a brown tweed suit sat holding a thick, musty, red dictionary.
The tome — a 1951 hardcover Merriam-Webster, so big it covered Edward Solomon’s lap — was an important prop for that night’s meeting, he explained.
The town board voted to adjourn a controversial public hearing on legislation that would have stripped Supervisor Tom Croci of some of his executive powers and given them to the other board members.
But Solomon, 22, and his 18-year-old sister Darlene Dow, who both spoke against the potential move even after it was tabled, had planned a filibuster: If the board didn’t vote to adjourn, Solomon said they would have read aloud from the dictionary until they were removed from the meeting by force.
“Before they adjourned the vote last night, we had 11 other people ready to filibuster out of that giant dictionary,” Solomon said. “We were just going to read from it until they arrested us. We were never going to let the vote commence.”
Solomon said they had coordinated with several other people — strangers they had met outside Town Hall that night before the meeting — who agreed to take turns reading until they were removed.
He was prepared for the potential filibuster to go on for days. “I had food and water in my backpack,” Solomon said.