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Listening Is Legal, Responding’s Not, AG Tells Rhode Island Officials

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  1. Freedom of Information
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The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office has advised city councils to listen but not speak when citizens raise issues not on the posted agenda. Otherwise, says Special Assistant Attorney General Christy Hetherington, the council members risk violating the state open meetings act that prohibits discussion on any topic that has not been properly advertised or posted before the meeting. The opinion was issued in respond to a question on how officials should respond to issues raised at “open forums” where citizens are free to bring up any issue on their minds. (12/12/05)