No decision yet on town managerCouncil discusses Dodge’s job performance in closed session
The Town Council has not yet scheduled a second meeting to continue the discussion of Town Manager Nancy Dodge’s job performance, which was initiated at its meeting on June 27.
The Council attempted to set a date after adjourning its Monday, July 1 meeting. Councilor Sean McGarry left the room because he said the meeting had been adjourned. Other councilors, as well as Dodge, had scheduling conflicts for potential meeting dates. Several possible dates were debated, one being July 29.
“That’s a month away,” said Dodge. “That’s ridiculous to be putting it off for a month.”
The meeting disbanded without setting a date.
Previously, at a special meeting on Thursday, June 27, the Town Council began — but didn’t finish after three hours — a meeting “to consider, according to the town’s published agenda, the “Town Manager [Nancy Dodge’s] performance evaluation and goal setting [and] … for the discussion of job performance.”
During the open session, First Warden Kim Gaffett explained there had been an exchange of correspondence between the council and Dodge in which she was notified of the council’s intention to hold a meeting “that may take place in open session.” Dodge responded that she wished to be present.
Councilor Chris Warfel objected to Dodge’s presence believing it would inhibit a frank exchange of ideas by councilors. He said, “It was my understanding that we would have a chance to discuss [the issues] first. For example, I would like to make some points and would not want to be interrupted.”
“I try very hard to keep people from interrupting each other. I would hope we could maintain civility,” Gaffett said, while referencing the state’s open meetings laws. “According to the Open Meetings Act, the employee has the right to choose whether or not to have the meeting on evaluation in closed or open session. It is solely the prerogative of the employee to decide.” Gaffett added, “I think we’re all going to benefit from an open discussion.”
Rhode Island General Laws 42-46-5(a)(1) states that in “discussions relating to job performance, character or physical or mental health of a person ... such persons shall receive advance written notice that discussion may take place in open session.” That individual must be “advised that [he or she] may require the discussion held in open session” or may select a closed session.
After some consideration, Warfel asked for copies of previous Council evaluations — important, he felt, because to new members of the Council like himself these would “provide historical information.” The Council then voted to go into executive session and invited Dodge to join them.
Reporter Stephanie Turaj contributed to this article