The government – at the local, state and federal levels – works for the people. As such, we have a right to know what our officials are up to. In celebration of Sunshine week, let’s ignore (for a brief moment) the cloud of secrecy and obfuscation that currently follows our federal administration, and take a look at a few local victories for open government.
· 1988: Injured Workers of Rhode Island v. Rotondi. Favorable settlement for a public interest group that was initially denied the right to take notes at Workers’ Compensation hearings. (See also worker’s rights.)
· 1995: Direct Action for Rights and Equality v. Gannon. Successful challenge on behalf of a Providence community group seeking police department records on police brutality. (See also police practices, discrimination.)
· 2007: Rhode Island Affiliate, ACLU v. Moran. Lawsuit successfully challenging a police department’s refusal to release the report regarding the fatal police shooting of a resident. (See also police practices.)
· 2010: RI NOW v. Wall. Favorably settled open records lawsuit against the Department of Corrections for refusing to disclose policies on the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners. (See also women’s rights.)
· 2013: Egan v. Rhode Island Board of Education. Successful challenge to Board of Education plans to hold a private “retreat” to discuss use of high stakes testing graduation requirements. (See also student’s rights.)
· 2016: Eil v. Drug Enforcement Administration. Freedom of Information Act suit on behalf of a journalist stymied in obtaining court records from a major prescription drug-dealing trial. (See also criminal justice, free speech.)
Here's to a transparent and accountable state and local government in the face of a federal administration that asdfghjkloiuytrewsdfghjkiuytredxcvbnjkiuyt....well, you get the point.