Here’s a pretty good example of how statistics can be platitudes too.
“The General Assembly complied with the state Open Meetings law 96 percent of the time last year, according to our latest review,” writes Chris Barnett, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, which issued a report giving the state legislature an “A” in open meeting compliance.
But as John Marion of Common Cause Rhode Island points out in the ProJo’s coverage of the report this morning, nearly all of the violations occur when the most important legislation is being considered. “Indeed, nearly all the violations came during the last days of the session: 15 of the 19 total violations occurred during the 48 hours before the Assembly recessed on June13, reports Phil Marcelo of the Journal.
In other words the General Assembly is great at being open when nothing is happening but not so much when it matters. Indeed, the General Assembly actually suspends its own rules requiring it to post information in advance at the end of every legislative session. It is literally a tradition that is done as a matter of course.
The Providence Journal notes the both the House and Senate finance committees – who have first cracks at shaping the ultimate political tool in the state: the budget – were the most frequent violators “with four and three, respectively.”