The police issued a “no trespass” order against newly laid-off town employee Laurie Perry Wednesday following a complaint by Finance Director Linda Dykeman about Perry’s visit to the Finance Department to pick up her belongings. Perry had worked in the department for two years before learning via certified letter Tuesday that she had been laid off due to lack of work. Perry had been out on leave at the time.
Perry went to Town Hall to retrieve her belongings Wednesday. After she had collected her things, Finance Director Linda Dykeman asked Perry to show her what she had taken. Perry refused and left the building with her husband, Bill Perry, an EG Fire Department lieutenant and head of the firefighters union. That action prompted Dykeman to call the police and ask them to issue Laurie Perry a “no trespass” notice for the Finance Department, which they did.
A police report of the incident can be found here: Dykeman-Perry Police Report. You can find the updated “no trespass” order here: Amended ‘No Trespass’ Order.*
EG Chief of Staff Michaela Antunes issued an email Wednesday afternoon to all town employees that inaccurately described the extent of the prohibition against Perry:
“I am writing to inform you that as a result of an incident that occurred today at Town Hall, a restraining order has been issued to former Town employee Laurie Perry, restraining her from coming to, or entering upon, any Town building or facility. Given this situation, you are directed not to allow Ms. Perry onto or into any Town property without prior authorization or approval from the Town Manager. If you see Ms. Perry at, in or upon Town buildings, facilities, or property, please notify the East Greenwich Police Department at (401) 886-8640.”
According to Town Solicitor David D’Agostino, Perry was in the wrong denying Dykeman permission to see what she had taken but acknowledged that Perry was entitled to her belongings.
“It’s her stuff. She has a right to it,” he said. But he said there’s “a proper way to go about things.”
“If someone who has been laid off and has been out on leave comes in and removes items from the Finance Department, the director has the right to say, ‘What is it that you’re removing?’”
As for the email from Antunes, D’Agostino said midday Thursday that a revision might be issued.
“If the chief of staff’s notice was based on internal information that was subsequently changed, then a revision will be issued,” he said. “You make decisions based on information known at the time. Clearly, this ‘no trespassing’ situation is evolving.”
The police report and no trespass order did not change from Wednesday to Thursday.
Antunes did issue a revised message to town employees Thursday afternoon:
“I am writing to inform you that a revised no trespassing order has been issued to former Town employee Laurie Perry, restraining her from coming to, or entering any private office in any Town building or facility without an appointment. Excluded from this order are public spaces in said buildings and facilities.”
Laurie Perry was the second of Bill Perry’s relatives to be separated from the town in the past five days. Jim Perry, Bill’s brother and a firefighter due to come off probation Monday, was fired Saturday night. Antunes declined to comment on the reason for that action. Town Manager Gayle Corrigan issued a response Monday to a complaint Bill Perry made against Town Council President Sue Cienki.
– Elizabeth F. McNamara
* Added Friday, Aug. 25, at 11:25 a.m.
It seems that if Ms. Dykeman was worried about when Mrs. Perry was supposed to retrieve her belongings, she would have specified a time for retrieval. Then to call the police (and escalate the situation) is ridiculous. We are a small town who know and value our town hall employees. The idea that Mrs. Perry was such a threat to Ms. Dykeman, Ms.Corrigan and group when they retaliated against Mr. Perry without cause is so stupid and shows a certain lack of respect and professionalism by this administration. Combined with the town council president’s behavior recently, this is reprehensible.
There are always many sides to stories such as these, and this is one of them. But among all the things going on in East Greenwich today, people need to understand that the firefighters union is now doing in EG what it did in Central Coventry a few years ago. Tactics are the same and many of the people are the same: overblown response when improprieties are uncovered, takeover of public meetings, frivolous lawsuits. My friends, the firefighters are not on your side, and don’t believe for a moment that they are. Call a friend in Central Coventry and ask what happened, or read this: http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20160920/central-coventry-fire-district-rights-itself-with-49m-budget-ok
John, you have no clue. The union in Central Coventry bent over backwards to help the town, it’s documented in court it was a tax error and the district even received an insurance settlement for such.The people they need to worry about are people such as yourself who drank the Kool aid…. It’s obvious Corrigan and her cronies are out to bust Unions.
The firefighters union may be many things. I’m not going to debate the cost measures. However the tone was set from the top down and in a small town where we all will eventual have a relationship whether we like it or not with emergency services perhaps a diplomatic and measured response was appropriate especially since going in an aggressive manner has not served the town well. This is a small town and I like to think that moderate responses work better then accusations by an unprofessional director.
Wrong thing #1 – Dykeman should have anticipated this situation and, ideally, arranged for Perry’s materials to be collected and delivered to her along with the certified termination notice, or ensured Perry collected her things while under escort, which would have meant alerting everyone in the department to notify Dykeman if Perry arrived unannounced.
Wrong thing #2 – Perhaps Perry had never been let go from a job before and didn’t know the routine of having an escort help you collect your things, but she must have considered that showing up unannounced and, at that point, intruding on the work area had a hint of impropriety. Her refusal to show Dykeman the contents of what she was collecting was also an error on the side of contentiousness. I can understand her feeling like saying “What town property are you worried I’d be stealing….stamps and a stapler?”…but having lost the opportunity to ensure the collection of her property was performed under controlled conditions, her request was legitimate.
Two wrongs don’t make a right….and three certainly don’t….
Wrong thing #3 – To go an make a federal case (well, civic case, I suppose) about it is the most revealing twist in this drama of errors. Unless Perry implied a threat of injury or other significant harm to the town, the restraining order was a gross over reaction. One could infer that this act was execution of one step of an overall strategy to demonize the Perry family. The town would be able to point to it and suggest it justified their ham-handed personnel maneuvers.
Once again, we see that the town leadership, from the Council, to the Manager, and now Department Manager, appears to be intent on creating a hostile environment that, in their minds, allows them to exert close control over the administration. When all you have is a stick….every employee looks like a donkey to you.
I agree with everything you say, Jeff, but I might add the question, “why is it good policy to lay someone off with a certified letter and not a face-to-face meeting in private? Ms. Perry should have had that meeting and none of this would have happened. In such cases, someone on staff then assists the worker with gathering her stuff and walks her to the door. A follow-up letter might be needed for legal reasons.
The whole thing was handled badly and I’m not sure that she was laid off for “lack of work” either. Not that I care why Ms. Perry was laid off, but a private face-to-face between the two would have let the thing happen with a little bit of dignity for both, as least as much dignity as possible under the circumstances.