Through the Access to Public Records Act (APRA), the press requested information from Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration regarding the hiring of former state Rep. Donald Lally and Raimondo’s truck tolls proposal. The Raimondo administration’s responses to these and other APRA requests caused advocates for open government to criticize the administration for a “pattern of disturbingly inadequate APRA responses.”
Rhode Island’s APRA should be strengthened because, in the past, greater public access to government records destroyed a political machine, ended egregious payroll fraud, and exposed pension abuses.
Resisting public access to government records is a Rhode Island tradition. After the Second World War, as an iron curtain descended over Eastern Europe, a shroud of secrecy enveloped government records in two major Rhode Island cities controlled by Democratic political machines. In Pawtucket, the followers of deceased Mayor Thomas McCoy kept financial and payroll documents a secret. In Providence, Mayor Dennis Roberts refused to make payroll records public. Continue…