Cranston City Council meeting held to address Stenhouse controversy

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Cranston City Council planned to hold a closed-door meeting Thursday to address the resignation of former senior services director Susan Stenhouse.

Sources told Eyewitness News Stenhouse instructed a city employee to dress as an elderly woman during a news conference last month – in order to make the conference, about a snow shoveling program for seniors, look good.

Shortly after the conference, Stenhouse resigned from her post.

Thursday’s meeting didn’t go as planned, though – and some councilors said it was all an effort to cover up the controversy.

With a vote of four to three, the meeting was blocked from going into executive session – meaning councilors could not ask city attorneys about the personnel matter regarding Stenhouse.

City Council President John Lanni claimed the meeting was an attempt by the Republican councilors, on behalf of Mayor Allan Fung, to cover up the truth.

“To go to these lengths to block access sends a message to me that where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Lanni said.

Republican councilors denied that their actions were politically motivated, instead arguing that the session was pointless because Stenhouse wasn’t in attendance.

“The job of the City Council is not to investigate someone who resigned,” said Councilor Michael Farina. “If she had come here to make a statement or had something to say or had a press release, I would have been glad to go into executive session and hear what she had to say, but with her not being here the administration is not going to tell us anything. Under a personnel law there’s no point to move forward.”

Mayor Fung also did not attend the meeting.

Council President Lanni told Eyewitness News the issue is not going away – and he plans to call another executive session to get to the bottom of what he is calling “an embarrassment” to the city of Cranston.

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