NEFAC: A Win for Open Records That Wasn’t

This should be a happy Access to Public Records Act story, but — spoiler alert — it’s not.

Valley Breeze reporter Ethan Shorey filed an APRA complaint with the Rhode Island Attorney General when the City of Pawtucket refused to provide him a list of vacant and abandoned properties it routinely shared with members of the City Council. Three weeks ago, the Attorney General’s office ruled that the document needed to be handed over. So why is this ruling a loss for open government instead of a victory?

This episode demonstrates the enormous difficulties that the public has in holding public bodies accountable for violations of APRA and the cramped way that the AG, the state official responsible for enforcing this law, can approach APRA complaints.