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Editorial: Islip coup is stopped by its residents

Community members clap in approval during Tuesday's Islip

Community members clap in approval during Tuesday's Islip Town Board Meeting after the board dismissed resolutions that would have resulted in stripping Supervisor Tom Croci of some of his powers. (Feb. 12, 2013) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The quashing of a power grab in the Town of Islip that would have stripped important duties from Supervisor Tom Croci and handed them over to four members of the town board illustrates an important point: The power lies with the people, but they must exercise it.

Two weeks ago, the board members tried to seize control of the town's day-to-day operations at the behest of Islip Republican Committee chairman Frank Tantone. Had the maneuver worked, personnel, labor relations, purchasing and communications would have been run by the full five-member board rather than Croci. Tantone hand-picked Croci, a newbie to local politics and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, to run for the seat in 2011, but the two theoretical allies have been at odds over patronage hiring that Tantone demanded and Croci objected to.

Forced into a tax increase and layoffs by the circumstances he inherited, Croci is right to oppose any hires that aren't the best use of Islip's resources. It was a terrible idea for others to try to seize powers that, for the town to run properly, must be in the hands of one decisive executive. Conflicts like the one Islip just ducked shouldn't be possible, and wouldn't be if the state beefed up laws to give town executives real power.

The people of Islip saw what was happening and stopped it. Adjournment of hearings on the proposal was announced at a well-attended meeting Tuesday, eliciting a standing ovation from the public.

It's their town. Their votes, and their voices count -- points political operators would be wise to remember.