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Mired in controversy, East Greenwich town council votes to re-appoint town manager

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EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — The East Greenwich Town Council voted 3-2 to re-appoint Gayle Corrigan as town manager Monday night, after a previous meeting to do so was cancelled because the room where it was held was over capacity.

The town has been inflamed by the debate over its leadership in recent months, culminating with a five-day trial in which a judge declared Corrigan’s original appointment null-and-void, and also voided a number of council decisions and Corrigan’s firing of James Perry, a prominent firefighter.

Judge Susan McGuirl said the town council “misled” the taxpayers when it violated the state’s Open Meetings Act, failing to properly notify residents of meetings.

At last week’s meeting, held in response to the court order, townspeople showed up in droves to oppose Corrigan’s re-appointment. When the meeting was cancelled, they moved down the road to air their grievances.

“I understand that the residents are angry,” council president Suzanne Cienki told Eyewitness News on Monday. “They should be angry. And we’ve got to do a better job of communicating to the residents exactly what is going on. We have been horrible at that.”

Cienki said she still supports re-appointing Corrigan as town manager, in part because she trusts Corrigan’s ability to turn around the “fiscal mismanagement” of the town. She said Corrigan likely wouldn’t stay in the post for a long time, and Cienki still wants to post the job and conduct a full search for a permanent town manager.

Councilman Mark Schwager, the lone Democrat on the council, said the best course of action would be for Corrigan to step aside, in order to restore public trust in government.

“She has become a lightning rod for divisveness and disruption, and I don’t think she can be effective in this position,” Schwager said.

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