Town Councilors Mark Schwager and Andy Deutsch said Wednesday they think the full Town Council should discuss the comments made by Council President Sue Cienki toward two firefighters during a meeting in June. Fire Lt. Bill Perry, head of the firefighters union, was at the meeting and he filed a sexual harassment complaint afterward.
In the complaint, Perry said Cienki threatened the genitals of Perry and a firefighter not in attendance at the meeting. Town Manager Gayle Corrigan, following an investigation by the Town Solicitor, sent a response to Perry Monday that acknowledged Cienki had made the threatening remarks and that she had been counseled to refrain from any further such remarks.
Council Vice President Sean Todd was at the June meeting and had been aware of Perry’s complaint. Councilors Schwager and Nino Granatiero said they had not heard of the complaint until it was made public in media reports late Monday. Councilman Andy Deutsch said he had not seen the complaint until Tuesday, but had heard something about it from former Town Manager Tom Coyle in June.
Deutsch and Schwager have both requested that Cienki’s comments be an agenda item at the Town Council meeting Monday, Aug. 28. As president, Cienki controls the agenda but Schwager said if two councilors request that an item be put on the agenda it usually happens.
“I think it needs to be discussed with the five of us,” said Deutsch. “I think that needs to happen in a meeting.”
“I plan to discuss how the Town Council should address the complaint and the town’s response,” said Schwager. “I think it’s important for the council as a whole to discuss this issue and how to respond to it.”
Schwager said he had talked to Cienki Tuesday but declined to discuss her comments.
“That’s certainly not how I would have handled any negotiation with town employees,” Deutsch said about Cienki’s comments, but he stopped short of criticizing her.
“I’m not going to say anything to condemn a fellow councilor,” he said.
Councilman Granatiero said he too would not have made such comments but that he would not comment directly on Cienki.
“I wasn’t there. I don’t know the context. I’m not going to comment,” Granatiero said. “I don’t judge. I don’t condemn anyway, especially when I wasn’t there.”
He added, “From my world, this doesn’t shock me. I’ve seen worse.”
Councilman Todd said the complaint was “totally, totally ridiculous … the fact that [Perry] said he feels he was harassed.”
Todd said everyone in the meeting was laughing after Cienki made the threats and that Perry made the complaint to divert attention from EGFD overtime spending.
But, he added about Cienki’s comments, “I’m not saying it was ok.”
The Town Council next meets on Monday, Aug. 28, at Swift Community Center at 7 p.m. The agenda has not yet been posted.
– Elizabeth F. McNamara