Transparency in the Political Next-Generation


Johanna Harris’s experiences trying to get information from the administration of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza are ridiculous:

I recently made a public records request for copies of Mayor Elorza’s daily schedules. The city responded that it would charge me $4,980 in advance to deliver the requested documents. That’s 332 hours at $15 per hour. The breakdown was two hours to find the schedules and an additional 330 hours to “review and redact” them.

And so Harris’s story goes… with liquor license information, with public meeting notes, with job descriptions.

Has anybody been getting the feeling that the more-recent generation of Rhode Island politicians think we’ve moved on from the principle of transparent government?

  • Rhett Hardwick

    This is simple, and very predictable, human nature. We have it, you don’t, and we want to keep it that way. All Freedom of Information acts provide a few exceptions. Just as on a sinking ship, everyone scurries for the limited number of lifeboats. Quite naturally, the governors scurry for the limited number of “exceptions” and inflate them. So, if they are permitted the cost of copying, what do you think is going to happen? The politicians who invented the rule knew this.

    I am reminded of a friend who was audited by the IRS. Satisfying their demands cost him almost $10,000 in photocopies. In the end, they got nothing from him. Do you think the IRS offered to cover the photocopies?