Amy Anthony

I submitted an APRA request Monday, April 6 to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, which owns a plot of former highway land in Providence, Rhode Island, that the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox have been eyeing for a new ballpark. The commission has said they have yet to receive a proposal about the ballpark, despite the fact the owners have been vocal about their desire to use the land. I requested a copy of all written and electronic correspondence regarding a proposed ballpark on the land, including references to subsidies or free land. Today, more than five business days later, I received a response from the commission, saying that because locating emails would take time, they were extending the ten business days to 20. First, is this a valid reason to extend the deadline? Second, do I have any recourse? I suspect they are giving me the runaround so as to not have to give me any documents until they have made an official announcement about the ballpark. Thank you in advance.

Michael Morisy

Unfortunately, Rhode Island gives agencies fairly wide latitude in delaying requests up to 30 days.

We’ve found that appeals do tend to get requests taken more seriously, and are free and relatively simple to file. From RCFP:

Administrative appeals are exclusively with the chief administrative officer of the agency. R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-8(a). Upon denial, a formal complaint may be filed with the Attorney General. R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-8(b). The APRA specifies that appeals are by “any person denied the right to inspect a record.” R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-8.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has determined that a requestor “may” direct an appeal to the chief administrator officer of the agency but is not required to do so. The Legislature, in R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-8, created an alternative to an administrative appeal, in that a person denied the right to inspect records has the option of retaining private counsel and instituting proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief in the superior court. Downey v. Carcieri, 996 A.2d 1144 (R.I. 2010).

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