Cienki Counseled to Cease Inflammatory Comments to Firefighters

by | Aug 23, 2017

Council President Sue Cienki, center, during a Town Council meeting June 26, 2017.

Town Manager Gayle Corrigan acknowledged Monday in a response to a complaint by Lt. Bill Perry, head of the EG firefighters union, that Town Council President Sue Cienki threatened to cut off Perry’s and another firefighter’s genitals during a meeting June 12.

In the response, Corrigan wrote that Cienki had been “counseled to not make such statements in the future as they are not conducive to productive labor-management relationships.”

But, Corrigan wrote, there was nothing further to do since Cienki is not Perry’s supervisor and, “as a general town officer and elected official, she is not subject to disciplinary action.”

This comes on the heels of an unusual meeting Saturday morning called so the Town Council could appoint someone to serve as acting fire chief while Chief Russell McGillivray was out on a two-week medical leave. No one was listed on the agenda and rumors had circulated that someone from outside of the department would be named. In the end, Corrigan recommended senior fire Captain Thomas Mears to fill in, just as McGillivray had done.

Saturday night, Perry received an email from Corrigan alerting him that his brother, a former Coventry firefighter who was hired by the EGFD last year, was fired.

On Tuesday, Perry’s wife, an employee of the town’s finance office, was laid off.

Chief of Staff Michaela Antunes said Tuesday there would be no comment about either action because they were personnel issues.

The meeting June 12 was held at the request of Perry, who wanted to discuss the comments made by then-consultant Gayle Corrigan during a presentation to the Town Council June 5. Perry said Corrigan’s presentation included misinformation about the fire department. In addition to Perry and Cienki, the meeting including then-Town Manager Tom Coyle, Fire Chief Russell McGillivray, Town Councilman Sean Todd and firefighter Michael Jones (a member of the firefighters executive board).

An investigation into the complaint was conducted by Town Solicitor David D’Agostino, who interviewed the people who were at the meeting. The allegations were not disputed.

A request to Cienki for a comment was not answered Tuesday night.

Perry said he is considering legal action against the town.

– Elizabeth F. McNamara

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15 Comments

  1. Jason Beaumier

    Very disappointing behavior. More should be expected of our elected officials.

    Reply
  2. Cspeca

    What a peach

    Reply
  3. Kimberly Lombardi

    I think a federal investigation should be taking place…..Never have I heard absurd stuff like this in this fine town ….What gives these people the right to treat others like this??? Something is wrong with this picture for sure ….

    Reply
    • Kimberly Lombardi

      I think a federal investigation should be taking place…..Never have I heard absurd stuff like this in this fine town ….What gives these people the right to treat others like this??? Something is wrong with this picture for sure ….Cienki should be FIRED ……

      Reply
  4. Jeff Stevens

    It may be a personnel issue….but, if one connects the dots….it has the sense of also being a personal issue….
    What we have witnessed in East Greenwich for the past few months appears to be a microcosmic rendition of what we’re seeing on the national stage.
    A strong-armed leader executing conservative plans, some possibly appropriate and some possibly mean (in the penny-wise/dollar foolish sense of the word) with little concern for stakeholder values….and their inflammatory comments in public and private made little regard for stakeholder opinion is like playing a game of chicken. They are counting on the not being called out nor voted out because those sensitive enough to detect these obtuse actions are merely the canary in a coal mine are likely in the minority.
    Well, there was a reason for canaries in coal mines – to prevent the mines from becoming so toxic that those working in them perish. Who would want to work for an EG administration with this kind of atmosphere? One piece of evidence may be revealing this. Are the departures from the EGHS significantly high? If so, for this reason?

    Reply
  5. Mark Laprade

    Imagine the outrage if a man said something similar of a woman employee? I’m sure it would be more than being advised not to speak like that. The town should immediately ask her to step down.

    Reply
    • Susan Langley

      I agree Mark. If a man threatened to cut off a woman’s boobs and feed them to her dog far more than counseling would be done. Threats and sexual harassment have no place anywhere, but to brush this off from a public officials is unacceptable. I believe this woman’s credibility has been ruined by her own hand. That said, she should be removed. Sadly, though, nothing will happen. I believe she and Corrigan are forming their own little dictatorship right here in little old EG.

      Reply
  6. Kathryn H Carter

    You cannot be serious!!!! Unbelievable that a person – no matter of gender – would be allowed to get away with this. As an EG taxpayer, I am shocked at the lack of professionalism in all members of the town staff. Cienki should be fired immediately for sexual harrassment.
    Kathryn H. Carter

    Reply
    • Ummm

      Do you not understand how government works? She’s an ELECTED official. She can only be “fired” at the ballot box.

      Reply
      • Susan Langley

        She can be asked or encouraged to step down. I believe if this were a man, he would be removed somehow sooner than later. The same goes for Ms. Cienki.

        Reply
  7. Joseph Walker

    What happens if he made comments about her Vagina. Completely different story and she would be going nuts. DOUBLE STANDARD

    Reply
  8. SueC

    Jeff Stevens is exactly right. The residents of East Greenwich need to start paying attention to the path that we are on as a community. We have a Council President that is not only a crass and vindictive bully, but thinks it’s a good idea to saddle the town with a Town Manager that has an undisputed history of terminations (fiscal impropriety!!) and litigation from MULTIPLE past employers. Through pure cronyism, our President has effectively foisted this cancer on the town and we will undoubtedly pay the price for that in the years to come….way beyond the $37,000 increase that she felt necessary to compensate Ms. Corrigan, who I’m sure no other town in their right mind would touch with a 100 foot pole. I would imagine the ‘search’ for a permanent town manager is going about as well as OJ’s search for the real killer.

    As the last line of this story says ‘Perry said he is considering legal action against the town’….our future will be littered with stories like this, with ‘Perry’ serving as a placeholder for any number of other names that our petty and incompetent town ‘leadership’ chooses to instigate a fight with.

    We are at a crossroads as a town and we need to come together and hold these people accountable, starting with our Council President and her misogynistic fratboy sidekick. Attend Council meetings, get involved and let your voices be heard. If not, the path we are on will continue to lead to the only logical conclusion: financial and reputational ruin for our town that will have a catastrophic long-term effect on all of us.

    Reply
  9. Karen Kenny

    Is it not a private personnel issue when an employee is fired? Why on earth would Ms. Corrigan send an email to Lt. Perry alerting him about his brother’s dismissal?

    She would do it to further her vendetta, but it can not be legal. Can it?

    re: “Saturday night, Perry received an email from Corrigan alerting him that his brother, a former Central Coventry firefighter who was hired by the EGFD last year, was fired.”

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      Karen, Bill Perry was notified as the head of the firefighters union. Acting Fire Chief Tom Mears was cc’d on the email.

      Reply
  10. Raymond Cannon

    Quite the lady, huh?

    Reply

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