National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

ACLU of Rhode Island report finds numerous violations of Open Meetings Act

Public meeting agendas in Rhode Island are “often vague, lacking critical information, and at times entirely unhelpful” to residents attempting to participate in their government, a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has found.

In reviewing just one week of public meeting agendas, the ACLU of RI discovered numerous violations of a critical portion of the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA), and recommended that the law be strengthened in order to adequately protect the public’s right to know.

The ACLU review of the agendas for every public meeting held during the week of October 5, 2015, found that many of them failed to offer meaningful explanations about the items to be discussed. In addition, the state's 48-hour notice requirement was undermined by public bodies’ use of weekends to comply with that timeframe, and served to discourage individuals, and particularly individuals in need of accommodations, from attending meetings. Continue…