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Providence, RI - House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan appeared at Kent County Superior Court today to request an omnibus hearing in her bid to make Rhode Island schools safer. This was her second visit to the court, as she continues to seek release of the remaining Google settlement funds held by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. Leader Morgan’s request seeks relief from the $3,770 fee the Attorney General is charging for search and retrieval of documentation concerning the Google funds. Her hearing was granted and will take place on June 15, 2018 at 9:30am at the Kent County Superior Court located at the Noel Judicial Complex.
“The Attorney General has been unwilling to release all the information Rhode Islanders need to understand, not only how much of the money from the Google Settlement remains, but also how it was spent. Even our state Budget office doesn’t have the specifics. The Attorney General owes it to our children to release the information.” stated Representative Morgan.
Faced with stonewalling by the Attorney General in February, Leader Morgan submitted an Access to Public Records Request on March 1, 2018. Instead of producing all the documents, the AG sent a bill for $3,770.
Leader Morgan was forced to appeal that denial to the same Attorney General’s office, citing R.I.G.L. 38-2-4 (e), which allows agencies to waive the fee if it’s in the best interest of the public. Her appeal was once again rejected.
“There has been absolutely no oversight over this money by anyone in our state, and it seems the Attorney General wants it to stay that way. We expect the transparency and accountability that this onerous fee is engineered to discourage. The people of Rhode Island deserve answers. They deserve to to know how this money was spent and if it was spent wisely. From my preliminary assessment, I am skeptical.
“From what I have seen, the Attorney General’s spending is questionable. I am particularly troubled by the $15 million customer service center built in Cranston. What background work was done to show a true need for this facility? Now, and for years into the future, taxpayer dollars will be consumed for its staffing and maintenance. He has spent the money on $75,000 generator rentals and high-end Microsoft Surface devices and accessories but is unwilling to use the money to upgrade security measures at our schools. I find his priorities disturbing. I want to know more, and I believe hardworking Rhode Islanders deserve to know.
On March 1, 2018, Leader Morgan submitted an Access to Public Records (“APRA”) request for details of how the funds were spent. Release of what is believed to be a remaining $23 million in Google settlement money for school security upgrades would give each of the 306 schools in Rhode Island $75,000 to upgrade security.