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Rhode Island AG settles public records and open meetings law violations

By Mark Payne | Feb 12, 2015

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartinin | Rhode Island Attorney General's Office

The city of Woonsocket and the Albion Fire District will each pay a $5,000 settlement for allegedly violating Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA), state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin recently announced.

The city of Woonsocket will pay $2,000 for violating the APRA request laws by not responding to an open records request in the time allowed under Rhode Island law.

"This office has repeatedly instructed public bodies that an APRA request must be responded to in a timely manner and the failure to do so violates state law,” Kilmartin said. “The City of Woonsocket's APRA violation not only has consequences resulting in a monetary fine, but also tarnishes the public's expectation that its government officials act in a transparent and open manner.”

Albion Fire District allegedly violated the open records laws by not notifying the public about the nature of business that was covered at multiple meetings. The fire district said it didn’t have to do so as it isn’t a public entity. The attorney general fought and it was determined that the fire district is a public body.

"This judgment represents the maximum fine that can be weighed upon a public body for failure to comply with the OMA,” Kilmartin said. “More important, however, is the precedent this case set in clarifying that fire districts are subject to our open government laws, as they should be.”

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