Morgan Files Complaint in Superior Court Seeking Waiver of $3770 Retrieval Fees for Google Documents, Remaining Funds Would Provide Every School with $75,000 for Security Upgrades
Providence, RI - On Monday, May 7 at 12:00 PM, RI House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan will submit a complaint to the Kent County Superior Court. The complaint asks for the Court to grant relief from the $3,770 fee that Attorney General is demanding to produce documents related to the spending of the Google Settlement Funds.
Leader Morgan entered an APRA request for these documents on March 1, 2018. The APRA submission followed a comment from the Attorney General’s office dismissing her request that he convene a panel of law enforcement and safety experts to guide our schools' efforts in spending the remaining Google settlement funds on security upgrades to protect our children. Leader Morgan is seeking the release of the remaining $23 million in Google settlement money to fund the purchase of the security upgrades. The remaining money would give each school in Rhode Island approximately $75,000 for the features they decide will be the most effective in keeping their students and faculty safe.
Already, the Town of Portsmouth has passed a resolution urging Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to distribute Google Funds to the Portsmouth School Committee.
“The Attorney General is stonewalling my request by making it prohibitively expensive. I appealed his decision on March 28, based on R.I.G.L. 22-6-12 which gives free access to public documents to members of the House Committee of Finance. Unfortunately, he denied the appeal.
“As a member of the General Assembly, the House Minority Leader and a member of the House Oversight and Finance Committees, I am entitled to the documents free of charge. Production of the documents is critical to public understanding of state government operations and activities and in this case, relevant to our desire to further the goal of increasing school security for our children.
“The Parkland Shooting makes it even more important to use proven strategies to strengthen the security measures of our schools. The Google funds were already used in North Providence to purchase security technology. All our schools can benefit from similar upgrades,” she continued. “I am asking the Court to waive the exorbitant fees that the Attorney General is demanding for retrieval of these documents. I find it troubling that he is using this maneuver to conceal the details of the spending of this large pool of money. There should be a public examination and assessment of the uses for which it has been spent. I want to know what he has considered more important than our students, teachers and school staff. This information will contribute greatly to the public’s understanding,” stated Leader Morgan.
“I fear the Attorney General is using this costly maneuver to stop further efforts to obtain the information. I do not have a budget for these fees. And because of cost, I will be representing myself in Superior Court for this complaint. I hope the Superior Court will hear my complaint and grant me relief.”
R.I.G.L. 38-2-4 (e) relating to Public Records states: A court may reduce or waive the fees for costs charged for search or retrieval if it determines that the information requested is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
Ian O'Connor, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903