Town Council Meets Monday at EGHS for Corrigan Vote

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The Town Council will meet Monday, Nov. 20, in the auditorium at EGHS to vote on appointing Gayle Corrigan as town manager. Here’s the agenda.

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl issued a harshly critical ruling of East Greenwich that ordered the town reinstate firefighter James Perry (fired by Corrigan in August) and nullified the June 19 appointment of Gayle Corrigan as town manager.

The judge granted the town a “stay” (a pause in her ruling) that expires on Tuesday to fix that nullification. Hence the Town Council meeting on Monday. The council tried to complete this task at a meeting Nov. 14 but they failed to secure a space large enough for the number of people who showed up to attend so that meeting was cancelled just minutes after it was to begin.

Meanwhile, the agenda for Monday’s meeting lists a number of actions taken by Corrigan since June 19, but only selected actions. For instance, Corrigan’s decision to hire an Ohio consultant to present a fiscal analysis of firefighter collective bargaining agreements is not included on the agenda.

In addition, the agenda lists one item to be ratified Monday from the Oct. 23 Town Council meeting that never appeared on the Oct. 23 agenda – the approval to hire a search firm for a new fire chief.

Friday evening, Town Council President Sue Cienki sent out a letter that blamed former Town Manager Tom Coyle and former Fire Chief Russell McGillivray for everything from incorrect cost calculations to discriminatory hiring practices. She said these things were done without the knowledge of this and previous Town Councils. While she did not say explicitly that she would be voting to approve Corrigan as town manager, she did write, “I encourage my colleagues to join me in renewing our commitment….”

At least one of her colleagues, Councilman Mark Schwager, has come out against Corrigan, urging her to resign (Schwager press release).

Councilman Nino Granatiero said Friday he was using the extra time before the Monday meeting keep learning.

“I’m using the time to still consider the matter,” he said. “There plusses and minuses to everything – to Gayle Corrigan and her skill set and her demeanor and everything she’s done over the past few months. There’s pluses and minuses to starting over. I’m using the time … to make sure I make the best possible decision for the town.”

He declined to say how he would be voting.

Meanwhile, opposition to Corrigan’s appointment continues unabated from Nov. 14, where the vast majority of attendees appeared to want council members not to appoint Corrigan. The new group Engaged EG issued what they called Part 1 of a response to Cienki’s letter (Engaged EG Cienki Response Part I), which calls into question her claim that taxes have risen “unsustainably” since 2000. [Ed. Note: The last sentence in this paragraph has been changed since the story was posted.]

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The EGHS auditorium holds more than 700 people and overflow can be accommodated in the cafeteria.

If you’d like to learn more about what’s been happening in East Greenwich and why, check out the East Greenwich News two-part story – find part one here and part two here.

4 Replies to “Town Council Meets Monday at EGHS for Corrigan Vote”

  1. I am writing in response to the letter by Town Council President Cienki to the residents regarding, “Incorrect cost calculations. Misleading reporting. Cronyism and nepotism. Unapproved agreements. Improper loans. Discriminatory hiring practices”.

    Thank you Council President Cienki for your thorough and careful review of what had been taking place in our cozy little town.

    I am pleased to know that you and your fellow councilors addressed the issue of cronyism and nepotism. I’m certainly glad to know that Ms. Corrigan was hired after a careful and thorough review of her qualifications and abilities as required by the town charter and the council didn’t rush to appoint her because she was initially recommended from some future politician. I’m also pleased to know this was not guised by the council’s claim of a dire need for an emergency management director. I am also happy to see where this was done in an open and transparent manner and not hidden through an executive session.

    It is also reassuring to know that Ms. Corrigan refused to follow in the footsteps of those who allowed their personal connections and relatives to be hired. It was nice to see that Ms. Corrigan didn’t sign a term sheet (contract) with Linda Dykeman on July 11, 2017 and the contents thereof because that was never presented to, nor approved by the town council. The same would apply to Ms. Antunes, the Chief of staff, where Ms. Corrigan again didn’t sign a term sheet on July 6, 2017 because that too wasn’t presented to, nor approved by the town council. Knowing that Ms. Corrigan is a business consultant with Ms. Dykeman and connected with Ms. Antunes through the Hope Club, I feel there was surely safeguards in place to make sure cronyism didn’t exist. I’m sure safeguards were in place to remove any appearance of impropriety. The town surely would have followed their personnel policy by way of advertising, reviewing applicants and making these appointments in an open, transparent and non-discriminatory manner, as I’m sure no males applied for those positions.

    Thank goodness, the misleading reporting has vanished since the arrival of Ms. Corrigan. No longer can we expect darkness plague our information. No longer can we expect consultants to be hired behind the taxpayers back. No longer will we see where an acting town manager will tell a Providence Journal reporter that her assistant will receive the same pay as the previous administrative assistant only to find out within two weeks she was given a $20,000 increase from what the administrative assistant had been paid.

    President Cienki’s letter says, “We are moving forward to get the Town back on the right path”. If this is going forward, please considers going backwards for a while until we catch up.

    Maybe I should have started my letter with Open Meeting Act violations, APRA Violations, Town Charter violations, contracts signed without council approval, misleading unfunded liability statements, discriminatory hiring practices, etc., etc., etc. I guess only the names have changed.

  2. Thank you for reporting this Elizabeth. I would add a note of clarification though, Engaged EG is not questioning the 87% increase in the levy, which appears to be correct. Engaged EG is working on a more careful analysis of that growth. We are pointing out, for example, that the rate of growth in the levy since 2010 has been lower than the historical average rate, which is 4.28% if you use the 2000-2016 data, and 5.06% if you use 1987 to 2016. This contradicts the council’s message that property taxes are rising at an unsustainable rate.

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