June 15, 2017 – In another chapter in the fast-moving narrative that began with the Town Council’s hiring of Providence Analytics in April to audit the schools, the Town Council met in executive session (i.e. closed to the public) Thursday evening, June 15, in what appeared to be a negotiation over the terms of Town Manager Tom Coyle’s departure. No vote was taken and councilors declined to elaborate, but Coyle and his lawyer made appearances during the 70 minutes the council met.
Around two dozen town employees held vigil starting at 5 p.m., the time the executive session was due to start, in the hallway outside of Council Chambers. The meeting did not begin until just after 5:30, when it was called to order with Town Council President Sue Cienki, Vice President Sean Todd, Mark Schwager and Andy Deutsch in attendance (Councilman Nino Granatiero was absent). After the pledge of allegiance, the public was asked to leave so the council could go into executive session.
Within minutes, Town Clerk Leigh Carney walked out of Council Chambers. She, too, had been asked to leave by President Cienki, who said the minutes of the meeting would instead be taken by Town Solicitor Dave D’Agostino. Carney said she had never been asked to leave an executive session before. She said there were meetings she missed during vacation or for personal reasons but that typically someone else from the Town Clerk’s office would sit in for her. There is a recording machine in Council Chambers. Carney said she told D’Agostino to manage the recording device in her absence.
After the meeting, Cienki said she had asked for Carney’s departure because of confidentiality reasons. When asked if that was because Carney was untrustworthy, Cienki looked surprised and said no.
The minutes of the meeting will be written up by Solicitor D’Agostino and delivered to Carney, who will be able to read them at that time. Minutes of executive sessions are not made public.
Rumors that the town manager’s job was in jeopardy started after the June 5 budget presentation by Providence Analytics. An executive session to discuss personnel matters was on the agenda for the Town Council’s June 8 meeting but was then scraped. Notice of the June 15 executive session was made 48 hours in advance. Coyle has served as town manager since 2013, coming over from the EG Police Department, where he was serving as chief after a starting there as a patrolman two decades before. His three-year contract as town manager was re-upped last November.
As Coyle left Council Chambers and walked upstairs to his office, one employee said, “We’re here for you chief.”
– Elizabeth F. McNamara