Opinion: In Response To Councilor Corenthal

by | Jan 5, 2022

Editor’s note: This post is responding to a post by Town Council member Caryn Corenthal Dec. 28 (find it HERE). The School Committee investigated Mr. Lamendola’s accusation in 2019 and found no evidence of wrongdoing (read about that HERE). You can read about the actual litigation HERE.

By Christopher J. Lamendola

I laud the town’s effort put forth during the COVID 19 pandemic and the town agencies and volunteer’s actions during these unusual times. I understand being an elected official is not an easy undertaking but I do take issue with Councilor Caryn Corenthal’s sanctimonious reflection on the qualities she believes she and the other Town Council members possess. Councilor Corenthal, you need to reassess your oath, duties and responsibilities.

I as well as my neighbors have recently made you, the East Greenwich Town Council, as well as the East Greenwich School Committee, aware of newly discovered fraud perpetrated on us, residents of Sarah’s Trace, as well as every other resident of the town during the construction of Cole Middle School. This deception resulted ultimately in the damage and destruction to our homes during the construction as well as the years of unnecessary ligation, never mind the financial and emotional ramifications. Not ONE elected official, either Town Council or School Committee member, was made aware of the fact that the law firm and lawyer hired to represent the “town” because of the damage occurring during construction of Cole was ALSO representing Gilbane, the main contractor at the same time, without disclosing this inconceivable conflict. We, the homeowners forced to sue, were also never informed! How is this possible or ethical? How different legal proceedings would have been!

You and your council cohorts’ reluctance to hold those accountable is what I have issue with. The fact that I need to write this response troubles me even more. What elected official knowingly allows scoundrels to get away with fraud perpetrated on its own citizens, being duped! Your claim of the Town Council’s qualities of “honesty, compassion and competence” ring hollow in my neighborhood due to your and the Town Council’s callous inaction after being made aware of these devious actions! Please hold your self-righteous proclamations to yourself if you don’t believe that being an elected official, one of your paramount responsibilities Is to protect its citizen’s homes value and property rights when you discover fraud and know they have been swindled by outside contractors, lawyers and town employees in charge….then do NOTHING! I find it ironic that the council spent so much time and money on an outside company in West Warwick which was in such close proximity to your and Councilor Englehart homes and property. I can only assume we are minions and not as important as the elected officials and special interests! So much for this new council’s claim of better honest government.

You know that I contacted you as well as Councilor Englehart several times regarding this fraud but never received the courtesy of a response, so your comment on listening and responding to constituents makes me chortle. So much for your “listening and willing to speak with anyone” proclamations. The council’s courageous response is to send a letter from your legal counsel claiming sympathy to the resulting damage to our homes ($1.5 million in damage and $600,000+ in legal fees) and blame others. You even admit the damage happened in the letter, but refuse to hold these scoundrels accountable. Just let them get away with it! Where is your honor? So much for “compassion”. A typical politician, all talk and no action!

I have to acknowledge that you were not an elected official during this time frame (Dr. Schwager was) and please know we also hold those elected officials accountable. I have contacted many of them and are they astounded by the facts and documents of FRAUD and deception. I have shared these documents with these former members and they are supportive of action being taken by the town. You are clearly aware now and know we don’t have the” legal standing” to hold those involved accountable but you as well the School Committee ignore your oath, duty and responsibility to us and the citizens of East Greenwich. You as well as the School Committee hired these individuals. How about holding them responsible for the damage as you, the Council and School Committee are the ones with “legal standing”! Isn’t it your responsibility as an elected official? I can guarantee if it was your fancy home or one of the other Councilor’s or School Committee member’s home’s it would be a different story, wouldn’t it? Something like this hideous event never goes away in a small community like ours until resolved. Why would you want to be an elected official and not protect your own constituents knowing we are innocent victims? At least I have the courage to call you and the other elected officials to task unabashed.

I believe what is wrong with politicians today is their own self-interest and not their constituents. Let’s take the easy way out, no backbone!  What is more reprehensible than knowing elected officials have been lied to, constituents’ homes and property are destroyed, know they have been duped, not compensated, and do NOTHING! 

I may not be as fancy as you Councilor Corenthal, enjoying lattes, but I know right from wrong and injustice and would be willing to do something about it! You and the rest of the Council need to re-evaluate why you are a politician and revisit your oath, duty and responsibility of being one before making such sanctimonious proclamations. 

BTW I like my “Joe” black with a little cream and sugar and you obviously know where I live. I can be reached at any time but will not be holding my breath!

Christopher J. Lamendola lives at 50 Sarah’s Trace.                                                                        

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5 Comments

  1. Christopher J Lamendola

    To the Editor, please provide the report produced and paid by the the School Committee that they investigated the evidence provided?

    Reply
  2. thomas j hogan jr

    To the editor: First of all, thank you for publishing this opinion piece by Mr. Lamendola. It explains many of the reasons why justice was not served and some the frustrations that Sarah’s Trace residents have endured.

    You have a prefix at the beginning of this opinion piece stating that the School Committee investigated Mr.Lamendola’s accusations and found no evidence of wrongdoing. I would like to ask you for the report stating that there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

    Mr. Lamendola, as well as myself and another family asked for an investigation into the “accusations” in March of 2019. At that time we had discovered that the attorney that was hired by the Town of East Greenwich, concerning damage to our homes, was also representing Gilbane at the same time, the Contractor building the Cole Middle School. This arrangement was made without disclosing this conflict to any Elected Official overseeing the construction project. How can an attorney represent both sides of an issue? How unethical! We thought this was a blatant conflict of interest that warranted an investigation. We immediately thought after this discovery, and other facets, how differently our trial would have been approached during 2015. During the construction period, just after this attorney was hired, all communication were shut down between the School Committee and the 3 families on Sarah’s Trace from advice of this attorney.

    The three homeowners of Sarah’s Trace received a letter in September of 2019 from the attorney that investigated this issue for the School Committee. None of the 3 families or elected officials we have spoken to were ever interviewed by this attorney regarding this investigation. How could this be a legitimate and fair investigation? This attorney’s letter stated to us, in part… “Based on the evidence presented it is my legal opinion that the EGSC should not take any of the requested actions in your letter [March 2019 letter requesting an outside investigation]”… This letter never stated the absence of, or evidence of, any wrongdoing.

    After the ordeal that we went through, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to my residence, without compensation, it strikes a raw nerve with me reading the opinion piece by Councilor Corenthal.

    Reply
  3. Marge

    I am astonished by this posting, even more astonishing is how this could happen in EG to someone’s home and property. What I find most shocking is the unwillingness of our elected officials to help these people, especially Dr. Schwager and the current Town Council. What is more important than the sanctity of ones home and property!

    Reply
    • Fred

      Astonished, why in the world should anyone be surprised? Ask yourself this question: how many members of the present town council live east of Main Street or east of Route 2 oh no most if not all are tucked away in sleepy French town far away from parking issues, noise issues and the real issues affecting the busy and popular Hill and Harbor area. I bet if one of the existing council members lived on Sarah’s Trace things would be handled a little bit different.

      Reply
  4. Keith Amelotte

    Allow me to summarize:

    During the construction of the Cole middle school, several surrounding homes suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage. This fact is admitted in emails from elected and appointed town officials.

    The school/building committee then hires the same attorney as the lead contractor and cannot produce a signed letter of engagement. A select few know about the conflict and hide, or at least fail to disclose this.

    Support from the town towards the victims changes abruptly resulting in obscenely expensive litigation with no reparation of damages.

    The victims later uncover the conflict and claim fraud, and not just in an incendiary interpretation of fraud, but the legal definition from the State of Rhode Island, of knowingly withholding an important particular from a public official.

    The town conducts an “investigation” where none of involved parties are ever contacted…not the victims, not the school committee members nor the building committee members. Not surprisingly, the recommendation is to take no further action. What exactly was investigated remains secret.

    Then, the town council releases this statement that talks about honesty, compassion, and confidence. They speak of listening to constituents, working on behalf of the town, and talking to the other side.

    When broken down into simple bullets, the story sounds incredulous…absurd, really. The full story is far more complicated, and even more devious and distasteful.

    Here is what the State of Rhode Island Ethics Commission Policy states.
    “It is the policy of the state of Rhode Island that public officials and employees must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust and the rights of all persons, be open, accountable and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and not use their position for private gain or advantage.
    The following persons shall be subject to the provisions of the Rhode Island Code of Ethics in government:
    (1) State and municipal elected officials;
    (2) State and municipal appointed officials”

    Ask yourself the following. Have the public officials adhered to the highest standards of ethical conduct? Have the rights of all persons been respected? Have the elected and appointed municipal officials been open, accountable, and responsive?
    The answers are sadly obvious. Every taxpayer in East Greenwich should be outraged. You have been defrauded, and the elected officials are choosing to look the other way.

    Reply

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