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The Open Government Unit investigates complaints against public bodies in Rhode Island for violations of the Open Meetings Act and/or the Access to Public Records Act. In 2013, the Unit investigated 92 open government complaints and issued 34 findings under the OMA and 27 findings under the APRA.
In total, the Unit determined that public bodies violated the OMA on 15 occasions and the APRA 13 times. In the majority of these cases, the Unit issued warnings to the public bodies. In three instances, the Unit filed lawsuits seeking civil monetary penalties and/or injunctive relief against the City of Woonsocket, the Woonsocket Superintendent's Office and the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.
During 2013, the Open Government Unit also resolved an OMA lawsuit filed against the Manville Fire District in 2012 for willfully or knowingly holding its open meetings in locations not accessible to persons with physical disabilities. This lawsuit resulted in a $5,000 civil fine imposed against the Fire District, among the largest penalties ever imposed against a public body in Rhode Island history.
The Unit continues to encourage open government through outreach and education. In August, the annual Open Government Summit drew 600 attendees, and throughout the year, Open Government attorneys conducted 17 presentations throughout Rhode Island. This proactive approach has positively impacted public bodies and citizens alike by encouraging open dialogue, which enables more government business to be performed in an open and public manner.
If you believe your rights under one of these laws have been violated, we encourage you to file a complaint with this Department. You should send your complaint, and any supporting materials to:
Lisa Pinsonneault, Special Assistant Attorney General
Rhode Island Office of Attorney General
150 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
Watch the presentation (Please note: there is no sound for the first minute of the streamed presentation. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience.)