Transparency and Planning

I’ve been running into barriers against transparency, lately.

When I requested its correspondence with ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber, HealthSource RI redacted significant paragraphs.  The Town of Tiverton recently spent something like $30,000 on a report about problems in the fire department, and when I asked for a copy, I received one that redacted every word of the interviews the investigator conducted with past and present firefighters about “unfairness, favoritism, bias, hazing, and harassment.”  (I’ve heard the rumors, and it sounds like the problems are at least a contributing factor in an overtime bill that might approach a half-million dollars, this year, possibly involving injuries due to hazing.)

And when I asked the Division of Planning for a breakdown of its payments to outside vendors, I heard back from Peter Dennehy, the Deputy Chief Legal Counsel in the Department of Administration, who runs defense for the administration on public-records requests, and he sent me just the totals:

In response to your request, Kevin Flynn informs me that the total amount of Partnership for Sustainable Communities grant fund expenditures by the recipient/vendor, as set forth in September 30, 2014 federal reporting period, amounted to $1,259,886.88.

For other RhodeMap RI related costs and for the period from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014,  Kevin Flynn informs me that approximately $359,566 of non-Partnership for Sustainable Communities grant funds have been expended by the Statewide Planning Program.

When I pointed out that my request was for the individual vendor payments, he replied:

I  don’t  believe that we have such a record,  particularly since there are multiple  vendors and subcontractors.

To which, I asked, “Planning doesn’t know to whom they paid money from a federal grant?”  After all, as you can see on RIOpenGov, the state keeps extensive records on vendor payments.  Either the Planning vendors are in there, or the state is hiding something.  I’m told that Flynn may or may not get back to me with further details.

All these barriers that I’ve encountered as I dig more deeply into progressive schemes and public-sector malfeasance may just be a coincidence, but it feels like a cloud is descending.  Some people are hopeful that the incoming Raimondo administration will clear them away.

We’ll see.

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