I am the complainant for the Ethics Commission complaint that resulted in a finding of probable cause against Town Manager Gayle Corrigan for her recommending and appointing her business associate, Linda Dykeman, as finance director and for supervising and directing her in that role.

At a recent Town Council meeting, Councilor Andy Deutsch said, “These complaints were brought by two people who are running for office. To think there is no political agenda is naïve.” Wrong! My complaint was filed last December, long before I had any thought of running for Town Council. In fact, I complained about this at a Town Council meeting in July 2017, when this and other appointments were made without advertising, posting, etc. My complaint fell upon deaf ears. Where else in the world can people come in to evaluate your job, complain about the job you were doing, as well as that of your CFO and then end up with those jobs? The truth finally came out about Ms. Corrigan recommending the appointment, as well as her salary, during the Perry trial. Her testimony also showed she was hypocritical when she testified the fire department was discriminatory about the lateral transfers that were hired because the town has Affirmative Action and EEOC policies that weren’t followed. Apparently, she doesn’t believe these policies apply to her appointments and the Town Council majority allowed her to get away with this, exclusive of Councilor Mark Schwager. That’s when I started putting together this information and subsequently filed the ethics complaint.

At this same recent meeting, Council President Sue Cienki said, “The hiring process for the town finance director was transparent and we feel that this issue has been vetted in various forums.” It’s too bad those forums were R.I. Superior Court and the Attorney General’s Office, where it was ruled to be in violation of the open meeting act (OMA). This hiring, guised within the “One Town” plan as presented by Ms. Corrigan, was done in executive session. The discussion was said to concern litigation and that’s why it was in closed session, but the ruling found “the discussion and/or vote to implement its plan did not relate to litigation.”

The ruling also determined, “We conclude that the Town Council did not provide a statement specifying the nature of the business to be discussed.” Please look for yourselves to find the agenda/minutes of when this hiring and salary determination was discussed in an open session. I’ll save you the time, it’s not there. So much for the open and transparent process she has claimed.

During this same meeting Council President Cienki went on to say that the commission voted on the complaint which has not been challenged by Corrigan and is a one-sided finding. Not true either! Two attorneys entered their appearance for this complaint and have billed the town over $62,000 for ethics complaints work. Two answers challenging this complaint have been filed by the attorneys, one 18 pages long, the other 17 pages long, both with attachments. Investigative interviews were conducted with Cienki, Council VP Sean Todd and Councilor Schwager. An attorney representing Ms. Corrigan was also present for the hearing. Read the Order and Finding of Probable Cause, hardly one-sided.

In Ms. Corrigan’s answer to the complaint, she said the Town Council created the overarching One Town plan, and that President Cienki and VP Sean Todd told her to recommend Linda Dykeman and President Cienki told her where the Town Council had landed as far as her (Corrigan’s) recommended salary range, can you say another OMA and Town Charter violation? This was never presented to the Town Council, or public, regarding the salary. About three weeks after Dykeman’s appointment, Councilor Schwager asked if Ms. Dykeman had a contract and salary and Ms. Corrigan said she has a salary but no contract, even though Corrigan, as town manager, and Dykeman, as director of finance, had signed a term sheet two weeks prior to this meeting.  

Just to be clear, Councilor Deutsch, I decided to run for Town Council in June, not December, when it was a possibility that Gayle Corrigan was going to be named the permanent town manager. I could not fathom another two years of our surplus being depleted, our schools not being funded properly, more backroom deals and cronyism, further erosion of our town’s great reputation and unnecessary, excessive legal fees.  

Justice McGuirl was right, it is time to turn the lights back on. Unfortunately, the majority of light bulbs at Town Hall right now are not very bright.   

William Higgins
East Greenwich