Gannon v. City of Pawtucket, 100617 RIAGO, AGO PR 17-47

Docket Nº:AGO PR 17-47
Case Date:October 06, 2017
Court:Rhode Island
 
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Gannon
v.
City of Pawtucket
AGO PR 17-47
No. PR 17-47
Rhode Island Attorney General Opinions
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
October 6, 2017
          Peter F. Kilmartin, Attorney General           Mr. Jack Gannon, Esquire           Frank Milos, Esq.          Re: Gannon v. City of Pawtucket          Dear Attorney Gannon:          The investigation into your Access to Public Records Act ("APRA") complaint filed against the City of Pawtucket ("City") is complete.          You made an APRA request to the City seeking "all invoices received by the City of Pawtucket from a vendor known as Labor Ready Northeast Inc. or any of its affiliates during the dates of January 1, 2012 through November 30, 2012."          The City responded to your APRA request on January 11, 2017, stating, in pertinent part:
"I have enclosed a CD containing certain invoices provided to me by the Finance Department and/or the Department of Public Works, which the City believes satisfies your request.[1] ***
[T]his office has redacted certain personally identifiable information contained in the records (i.e., Tax/Federal ID Numbers and also the Name of Labor Ready's employees). In support of this decision, the City believes that this redacted information is exempt pursuant to § 38-2-2(4)(A)(b)(I) since it is personal individually-identifiable information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Notwithstanding the above, if the redacted information did not fall within any enumerated exemption, the City still believes that the APRA would allow the redaction of the information in question since there is minimal, if any, public interest in the disclosure of the individual employee names on these records; however, there is a privacy concern in the release of the names [of] a non-City employee's.
*** [A]fter reviewing R.I. Gen. Laws § 37-13-1, et seq., pertaining to 'public works projects', the City does not believe that the City's prior utilization of Labor Ready for temporary workers rises to the level of a public works project as contemplated by the aforementioned Act."
         You appealed this determination on January 24, 2017 to Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien. Mayor Grebien denied your appeal by letter dated February 7, 2017.[2]          You filed the instant APRA Complaint alleging, in relevant part:
"The issue in this appeal is whether or not the [C]ity violated the APRA by redacting the names of the individuals who were paid with taxpayer dollars through a temporary employment agency known as Labor Ready.
The City's reasoning for redacting the names of Labor Ready laborers who received taxpayer monies for performing city services is fundamentally flawed. *** These day laborers are for all intents and purposes city employees who work on city vehicles performing long established city functions such as trash pickup, road repair and parks and recreation facility maintenance.
*** These laborers are required to follow the [C]ity's work rules and obey directives and commands of the City's managers. Moreover true subcontractors utilize their own tools and vehicles when on a job. These day laborers from Labor Ready bring no tools to the city job, in fact the city provides city owned tools, equipment and vehicles to these laborers. Accordingly these Labor Ready laborers are city employees.
In this context there is no right to privacy in an individual's name, and more importantly taxpayers are entitled to know where their tax dollars are being spent and to whom. The disclosure of the names of persons who are directly employed by the city is required under APRA. The City should not be able to evade this requirement of APRA by utilizing a temporary employment agency. Essentially what the City could not redact with a direct hire it should not be allowed to redact with an indirect hire through a temporary employment agency like Labor Ready.
***
The City's justification for redacting allows the Mayor to hire a family member or business associate, [sic] through Labor Ready and thereby improperly utilize taxpayer monies to enrich himself, his family or business associates and yet be immune from disclosure of their names. This loop
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