Even local Republicans in East Greenwich have soured on Gayle Corrigan.
“I think it’s time for the Town Council to re-assess the Town Manager position, bring in a new manager and move forward expeditiously with the manager search,” said well-respected former town council president Michael Isaacs, a Republican who served for 12 years on the town council. “I hope there is not backlash against consolidation and sharing of services and against addressing real fiscal issues.”
Mark Gee, a former East Greenwich town councilor and current state Senator, also a Republican, said he is “obviously disappointed in the goings of the town council. I just think it’s sad for everyone. It hurts us financially when people see that we are going through this.”
When asked how he thought Corrigan has performed as town manager, the typically outspoken Gee said, “no comment.” But when asked if he thought the Town Council should reappoint her at its Tuesday meeting he opened up.
“I am not a believer in creating angst or being confrontational,” he said. “I would much rather see things done in a quiet, respectful manner. I’m a graduate of the Michael Issacs school of trying to work things out.”
Representative Anthony Giarrusso said he has been out of town and hasn’t been paying close attention.
Former town manager Bill Sequino, who served as EG’s chief executive for more than 20 years, had kind words for Corrigan, but not when it came to her tenure in East Greenwich.
“I happen to like Gayle, I consider her a friend,” Sequino, who recently moved to Colorado, said. “I consider her very knowledgeable in the field. But I think the style that takes place in an organization shouldn’t be as confrontational as it has appeared to be here.”
The well-respected quartet of financially conservative elderstatespeople of East Greenwich were reacting to the soap opera that the East Greenwich Town Council has become since it hired Gayle Corrigan as town manager. The past five months have been marked by community consternation, unruly meetings, circumvention of state laws, and a bevy of lawsuits relating to Corrigan’s decisions and her own appointment as town manager. A Superior Court decision last week nullified her appointment for five “willful and knowing violations” of the state Open Meetings Act.
“It is apparent that the Town Council willfully and knowingly violated the OMA,” wrote Judge Susan E. McGuirl in her 73 page opinion. “Based on the compelling and credible evidence before it, this Court finds that the Town’s appointment of the Town Manager misled the public.”
The town council indicated it could re-appoint Corrigan at a Tuesday night meeting, according to a hastily put together agenda posted only a few hours after the judge’s decision became public. The agenda needed to be amended for including the wrong dates to cover Corrigan’s tenure. A separate agenda item calls for the ratification of all actions Corrigan has taken as town manager to date. Approving this could likely compound the Open Meetings Act complaints that are piling in against the town.
Because the Republican-controlled town council chose not to hold a public comment portion of its meeting to reappoint Corrigan, local Democrats have organized a forum on Main Street for after the official meeting.
In an interview today, Sequino said he would be open to serving as interim town manager. “I’d consider anything,” he said. “A few months is not a long time.”
Many residents have suggested the town council appoint long-time Public Works Director Joe Duarte as interim town manager after Town Councilor Andy Deutch told East Greenwich News, “The question on my mind, if not her, then who?”
Deutsch today called upon the Young Republicans “take up some seats” at the upcoming meeting. “For every seat you are in – a union agent won’t be!!” he wrote in a Facebook post.
While Corrigan’s five month tenure as East Greenwich town manager has been riddled with controversies and missteps, the four conservatives on the town council have been uncompromisingly loyal to her.