2 Councilors Want Cienki Comments on Monday’s Agenda

by | Aug 24, 2017

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

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11 Comments

  1. Renu Englehart

    I agree with Mr Deutsch and Dr Schwager in asking for discussion regarding comments by Ms Cienki to be placed on the agenda. I think that a frank and transparent discussion Is appropriate. Ms Corrigan and Ms Cienki should explain how a budget overtime issue became so contentious and how the decision was made regarding persons to be let go and a certain clerk was hired.

    Reply
    • Lisa Johnson

      Lisa Johnson
      My father, Carl I. Hoyer was extremely proud of this town & served on Town Council & School Committee for many years. He died last year. I am sure he is looking down on all of this with great disapproval. Please show some respect to the people and employees of this town.

      Reply
  2. Alan Clarke

    While the wording was a tad inappropriate, if the mood of the room was jocular, then one could say “sexual harassment” with a little tsk, tsk, wink, wink, and a slight smile. Certainly not Mike Isaac’s council meeting, for sure. On the other hand, it is vastly more entertaining under the present lot. I think a slight slap of the wrist and an admonition to not do it again should suffice. We should try to NOT let these things deteriorate to a point we think we are dealing with national politics.

    Reply
    • Bill Pett

      What does C-O-P-O-U-T spell? The actions of the current council majority are disgusting, not entertaining. They’re supposed to be working for the whole town but they seem to be acting only for their own egos!!!

      Reply
    • Lisa

      are you kidding Alan C? a slight slap in the wrist? Sexual harassment and inappropriate comments have NO PLACE ANYWHERE!!!
      Are you kidding? “the wording A TAD inappropriate”? NO WAY!!! As elected officials there ought to be at least a tad of professionalism, decorum and RESPECT for people. As an elected official they should be setting an example for professionalism and proper conduct. Although I believe in giving everyone a chance, I find this behavior absolutely reprehensible by a public official and ought to be held accountable to the highest standards. I never thought I would look forward to the next election SO MUCH. This town council is an absolute joke and everything they are doing is absolutely hurting a wonderful town…East Greenwich. Everything in social media will never go away. Sue Cienki and Sean Todd are an embarrassment to this town. Laughing or smirking at those comments made by Sue Cienki NOT OK!!

      WE are all going to have to pay for all that is happening.

      Reply
  3. Erin

    What is going on in EG? When is it ever O.K. for in for someone in a professional capacity to speak of genitals (whether in jest or not)? Have we lowered our standards THAT much. Fellow councilors don’t want to judge/criticize her because “they don’t know the context”? Seriously? Completely disgusted that our elected officials do not hold themselves and each other to a higher standard. Cienki and the rest of the Town Council need to STEP IT UP for our kids, our town and most importantly themselves.

    Reply
  4. David Caldwell

    This is no longer about whether Ms. Cienki’s threat was out of line. Ms. Cienki’s threat — to harm Lt. Perry, even if not in the literal way she threatened — has been carried out. Both Lt. Perry’s brother and his wife have been fired by the Town in the last several days.

    We as a Town have cruelly harmed two families, and exposed ourselves to massive legal liability, because of Cienki’s reckless bullying, combined with the sure-look-like-retaliatory firings. Even if you think Cienki’s verbal broadside was not a big deal (and I disagree with that), let’s not get bogged down in a debate about the appropriateness of coarse language and bullying tactics in the conduct of a relationship between a government and a public sector union.

    Rather, let’s keep our eyes on the abuse of power involved in punishing people, harming families, because one is angry about having a complaint — an accurate one! — filed, and try to figure out whether there’s any other kind of explanation for it that doesn’t involve illegal retaliation. Right now, the circumstances look absolutely damning; the Town’s position now looks indefensible to me.

    Reply
  5. Julie Adams

    Well said David Caldwell even if she didn’t mean harm by the words she still took action on his family. This town has open themselves up to a huge lawsuit good thing The town manager has the taxpayers to pay all her legal bills

    Reply
  6. Roberta H. Anderson

    Ms Cienki should be replaced on the EG Town Council. In private enterprise, she would be . She does not belong in a position of public responsibility. From what I have witnessed, she does not properly conduct a public meeting. This truly is beyond the pale. It really is not funny.

    Reply
  7. Susan Langley

    With all due respect to Mr. Clark, Cienki’s comments were far from just a “tad” inappropriate. If a man had threatened to cut a women’s genitals off and feed them to her dog, swift and strong action would be taken. No one should have to deal with this, certainly not one side of two negotiating factions. Talk about asserting one’s power over the other. Civility is a must, wouldn’t you agree? Lest we forget she called a firefighter (who was not present) a sociopath. Didn’t Mr Todd have to apologize for much less? Compared to Ms. Cienki’s comments, Mr. Todd’s faux paus seems a tad tame. This crass display by elected officials needs to stop. Ms. Cienki needs to respect her position and her constituents. Her behave on many occasions, has been both shocking and totally unsuited to her position. Something needs to be done, far more than a wink and a nod. Something tells me a slap on the wrist may not do the trick. Is anyone else dying to know what gets said when the other side is not present? Oh boy, to be a fly on the wall.

    Reply
  8. Therese Vezeridis

    As a real estate agent, I was being very diligent to give my copy of last week’s PENDULUM to a New family that just closed on a house since it included the EG Bus Schedules. However, I was too embarrassed to give them the first page which covered Cienki’s remarks.

    Reply

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