By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The state Attorney General’s office said the Labor Relations Board violated the Open Meetings Act Oct. 30, in a complaint filed by former East Greenwich Town Manager Gayle Corrigan. The AG’s office said that the action did not appear to be premeditated so no penalties.
“In this case, we find no evidence of a willful or knowing violation,” the ruling read. (Find the full ruling here: Corrigan v. State Labor Relations Board.)
Still, it signified a rare victory for Corrigan and the 2016-18 Town Council, which racked up seven Open Meetings Act violations during their two years in office.
Corrigan was fired by the Town Council elected in November 2018, a council made up of four new members and Mark Schwager, the one dissenting member of the previous council.
The LRB was weighing 29 unfair labor practice complaints filed by EG firefighters against the town, the result of a stormy relationship between the town and the union under Corrigan’s leadership.
During the Oct. 30 meeting, the lawyer representing East Greenwich, Tim Cavazza, said LRB board member Derek DaSilva could not hear the complaints because he was head of the Providence firefighters union, which had been represented in the past by the lawyer for the EG firefighters, Elizabeth Wiens.
The board excused everyone from the room and met with legal counsel to discuss Cavazza’s assertion and figure out what to do. In her complaint, Corrigan said that constituted an executive session with no prior notice. (When the panel reconvened, the board chair said they would take the ethics issue under advisement and contact the Ethics Commission for clarification.)
The Attorney General agreed with Corrigan, writing, “This collective discussion among four Board members only (which may have been part of a larger discussion that included legal counsel) regarding . . . a matter pending before the Board, violated the OMA.”
While the LRB was not penalized for the violation, the Attorney General did warn the panel against repeating the action. Corrigan, as the complainant, could still seek remedy in Superior Court. Corrigan did not respond to a request for comment.
As for those 29 complaints, they were resolved in 2019 through negotiations with the Town Council elected in November 2018.
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