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RIDOT Unaccountable, Says ACLU of RI

Quoting from an ACLU of Rhode Island press release:
"Citing a recent “pattern of disturbingly inadequate” responses to open records requests “on truly critical matters of public import,” five open government organizations have called on Governor Gina Raimondo to issue an executive order that calls on state agencies to “adopt a strong presumption in favor of disclosure in addressing requests for public information.” 
In a letter sent Tuesday to Gov. Raimondo, the five organizations -- ACCESS/RI, American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Press Association, New England First Amendment Coalition, and League of Women Voters of Rhode Island -- cite three recent incidents in which state agencies addressed Access to Public Records (APRA) requests. The groups called the handling of each of these requests “questionable” and indicative of a “disinterest in promoting the public’s right to know.”
In the first incident, according to the Providence Journal, the state Department of Transportation provided an incomplete response to a reporter’s request for records related to the administration’s hotly debated truck toll proposal, failed to properly request an extension of time to respond, and then denied records without specifying what was withheld or whether there was any information in the withheld documents that could be released, as required by law. . . ."

I wouldn't describe the toll proposal as "hotly contested", since the vast majority of Rhode Islanders support it. And, of course, I worry about the kind of crap journalism that comes out of The Projo on matters like these. But regardless, RIDOT does a lousy job of being open with records, and an even lousier job of responding to journalists. This is a pattern that goes deeper than this administration, and I would even say to an extent this administration has been better than the last one.  But Gov. Raimondo would do well to respond to these charges with more transparency.

Other agencies were implicated in this press release, but this is a transportation blog, so I focused on the RIDOT section. Interested parties should contact the RI ACLU if they have questions.


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