Rhode Island Governor Puts Bosses above the Law

In 1995, R.I. Gov. Lincoln Almond (R) went on a campaign to get no-show state employees back to work. He publicized that his predecessor allowed 246 union bosses to spend up to 100% of their state-paid time on undocumented “union business.” Annual cost to taxpayers for the diverted time: $1.2 million. But now he is refusing to disclose the amount of state-paid time off his administration is giving union bosses unless the bosses give him permission.

The issue came to a head in response to questions about the recent promotion and $10,000 raise given to Louis Roccabello, a state-employee who spends at least 50% of each state-paid work week on business for AFSCME Dist. Council 94.

Even R.I. leftists were outraged. “The governor is elected by all the people, not just the public employee unions,” said a Common Cause spokesman. An ACLU spokesman said, “It is extremely disturbing that the state’s highest official would essentially nullify…the public’s right to know. …[I]t means that a public official can hide public records solely because they are concerned about the response.” [Providence Journal-Bulletin 3/18-19/99]