There are apparently a dearth of elderly women in Cranston, RI, where a city official who wanted to include an elderly woman in a photo op about a snow shoveling program persuaded a middle-aged man to dress up in a wig, earrings, lipstick, and a dress. The man stood next to the mayor of Cranston at a news conference wearing a name tag that said "Cranston Senior Home Resident." WJAR-TV uncovered the ruse this week. It's unclear why officials decided to use a stand-in for a woman at the Jan. 5 news conference, which was held at the senior center where the man worked as a van driver. Sue Stenhouse, the city's director of senior services, organized the news conference. She resigned last week, according to Rob Coupe, the city's director of administration.
Stenhouse, Coupe, Mayor Allan Fung, and the senior center all declined to comment. Two city councilmen told the Providence Journal they believe the stunt was meant to deceive the public. City Council President John Lanni said he would ask the mayor for an explanation. Meanwhile, a hair salon owner told WJAR-TV that she unwittingly supplied the wig for the caper to David Roberts, the van driver who transports seniors to the salon. Roberts did not immediately return a message left at his work. "He says to me, 'Elaine, do you have a wig that I could borrow? I have to get dressed as a senior,'" Elaine Mancuso told the station. She later realized why he wanted it. "I said, 'Oh, my God. He wanted it for that.' I probably would have given him a better wig if I had known."