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RIDOT Director Makes Twitter Account Private Following Tweet Scandal

Following a story posted on Transport Providence, Director Alviti first deleted some of the tweets, then moved to make his account private. 

While Alviti is entitled to private social media if he chooses, up until the Transport Providence article ran, his Twitter account was an active location for posts about RIDOT affairs. The choice to make the account private removes the DOT's past statements from public scrutiny, with no comment.

Many of Alviti's tweets should cause alarm to Rhode Islanders, but it's important to be clear why. Alviti's tweet-rant about President Obama that included several tweets that asserted the lack of sexual prowess of Obama and Obama surrogates in various degrees of visual specificity were embarrassing and should be apologized for. The tweets also included several retweets of "alt-right" figure Ann Coulter.

Even more concerning, however, were a series of tweets outlining Alviti's view that the United States should ignore scientific consensus and drill more oil from the ground, while not pursuing renewable energy. As Gov. Raimondo has positioned herself to take credit for the private development of off-shore wind projects (projects whose permitting began before she was governor), her larger impact in the realm of energy and transportation has been to push fossil fuel expansion. Alviti's tweets showed up as new evidence on a growing pile of other infractions of an administrative bias against taking strong (rather than symbolic) action on climate change.

The move to make the Twitter account private, while not commenting on these issues, breaks the public trust. Alviti should have clarified these statements: Does he still support them? What impact do they have on his views about road construction? Instead, he sought to limit public availability of the tweets, which he had left in place until that time, lest they be used to hold the DOT and Raimondo Administration accountable.

And so Transport Providence will publish the entirety of the account.

Alviti's tenure at RIDOT has seen the agency grab for greater and greater power to make unilateral decisions about the state's future. It's time for RIDOT's top official to be accountable to the public, and answer what his views are on climate science and RIDOT's role in fighting climate change.


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