Kingston town administrator Jim Thomas, on leave since June 7 after allegedly making a threat against Selectwoman Susan Munford, now faces a complaint of criminal harassment from Munford.
Munford, who is also a police sergeant, filed the complaint in Plymouth District Court stemming from the episode in which two Town Hall employees allege they overheard Thomas angrily threaten to “bring her down.” The court has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday.
Thomas, who does not have a listed phone number, could not be reached for comment.
“He’s angry with me,” Munford said in an interview Wednesday. “I have no comment [on why]. It’s unreasonable. I can’t find anything rational in it.”
“I have had very limited contacts with him,” she said of Thomas. “The incident that precipitated the restraining order was overheard by someone else. I wasn’t there. It was reported to me, and action was taken. It wasn’t my direct involvement with him.”
Munford, who was elected this spring, said she met Thomas on a couple of occasions as a union representative.
According to her complaint, the two town employees reported that the episode took place on May 30 and that Thomas was swearing loudly when he stated his intention to bring Munford down.
Nancy Howlett, the assistant to the town administrator, reported the episode to Kingston’s town counsel shortly afterward, and it led selectmen to place Thomas on administrative leave.
Howlett said Wednesday that the version of the episode in Munford’s complaint was “basically accurate.”
“I don’t have anything else to say,” she said. “The court case is continuing.”
Munford told the court that she decided to file the criminal complaint after learning of two other alleged occurrences similar to the one reported by Howlett and administrative assistant Lynn Cook.
Selectmen chairman Joseph Casna said Wednesdaythat the board acted on the advice of town counsel Jay Talerman. Casna said Thomas was placed on paid administrative leave, “pending on looking into the allegations.”
“It was not anything anyone took any pleasure in, certainly not me,” Casna said. “I had to act because my first responsibility is to the well-being of the town.” He said the board would discuss what action to take at a future meeting.
The board is scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening directly before the Town Meeting scheduled that night at the Kingston Intermediate School. But Casna said he could not say whether the board would discuss Thomas’s situation at that point. Howlett said the agenda for that meeting has not yet been posted.
‘He’s angry with me. . . . I have no comment [on why]. . . . I can’t find anything rational in it.’
While Casna would not further discuss the reasons for placing Thomas on leave, other town employees have reported problems with dealing him, and last winter selectmen received a letter from five employee unions complaining of unprofessional conduct. The letter alleged that Thomas used “threatening and retaliatory behavior” against them, along with bullying tactics, and displayed a lack of respect in his dealings with them.
Hired last fall, Thomas was in his first year of employment with Kingston after serving in a similar position in West Warwick, R.I. Thomas spoke last year of his battles with unions there and was quoted as saying that a sense of entitlement on the part of unions harmed sound public policy.
Thomas also said that he was successful last June in settling contracts with West Warwick police, fire, and municipal employees that included significant paybacks to the town.Robert Knox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.