November 12, 2008

Public Money is Not a Personal Matter

Monique Chartier

If, indeed, the referenced law is being correctly interpreted and executed, it needs to change. Any information pertaining to the dispensation of tax dollars cannot be withheld from those who supply those dollars.

The Carcieri administration is refusing to disclose the number of unused vacation and sick days it awarded recent state retirees who, in some cases, walked out the door with severance checks averaging $10,500, but running as high as the $129,158 paid to former Rhode Island College president John Nazarian.

In total, taxpayers paid $16.5 million in severance payments to the 1,521 state workers and college employees who retired in the five months before the price of health coverage for new state retirees went up on Oct. 1.

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In a series of back-and-forth e-mails last week, Governor Carcieri’s spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, said the Department of Administration had decided that it was barred from releasing further details about the severance payments by the state Open Records Law, under an exemption for personally identifiable information.