RTKNH receives First Amendment Award

We couldn’t be more proud.  On Thursday night, October 5, 2017, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications awarded Right to Know NH its First Amendment Award. The award is given annually by the school to those who have “gone above and beyond to uphold” First Amendment Freedoms.

1sr amendment award group

RTKNH, including founding members and officers Harriet Cady, David Saad and David Taylor were honored at a gala at the Palace Theatre in Manchester for its work in advancing the public’s right to know in New Hampshire.

A 5 minute video about RTKNH was shown at the award ceremony followed by a speech by David Saad,  RTKNH president.

The keynote speaker was Garrison Keillor, creator and star of “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show, who spoke of everyday threats to our First Amendment rights, not least of which is our own indifference and reluctance to act.

Since it began in 2013, Right to Know NH has been devoted to strengthening the Right to Know law in New Hampshire.  Through legislative action, education outreach and mentoring citizens in obtaining public information, the grass roots organization has grown to become a notable advocate for open government in the state.

We are honored to be recognized by the Nackey S. Loeb School and are delighted that attorney and First Amendment specialist, Greg Sullivan, was also recognized with the school’s Pen and Quill award.

The Nackey  S. Loeb School of Communications’ mission is to “promote understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment and to foster interest, integrity and excellence in journalism and communication.”

Articles by the Union Leader and Concord Monitor provide more information.

 

RTKNH meeting Saturday 11/20 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, November 20, 2021 @ 9 AM by Zoom video conference.  We will discuss Right to Know (RSA 91-A) bills for the upcoming legislative session.  The public is welcome to join us. If you’d like to join us, click on “Send us a message” under CONTACT US to the right and ask for the zoom conference meeting link.

Learn the Open Meeting Laws Webinar Nov. 8th @ 7:30 pm

The School District Governance Association in partnership with Right to Know NH will conduct a FREE webinar on the Right-to-Know Law regarding Public meetings and non-public sessions. Webinar will be held Monday November 8th 7:30-8:30PM via zoom. David Saad, RTHNH president, is the presenter and will include time for Q&A.

Registration for this webinar is free, but required in order to receive a zoom invitation.

To register click here

RTKNH meeting Saturday 10/16 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, October 16, 2021 @ 9 AM by Zoom video conference.  We will discuss Right to Know (RSA 91-A) bills for the upcoming legislative session.  The public is welcome to join us. If you’d like to join us, click on “Send us a message” under CONTACT US to the right and ask for the zoom conference meeting link.

RTKNH meeting Saturday 9/18 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, September 18, 2021 @ 9 AM by Zoom video conference.  We will discuss Right to Know (RSA 91-A) bills for the upcoming legislative session.  The public is welcome to join us. If you’d like to join us, click on “Send us a message” under CONTACT US to the right and ask for the zoom conference meeting link.

Hudson citizens using Right-to-Know Law in fight against town officials stonewalling access to records

What would you do if a huge warehouse and distribution center was being developed on an old golf course in your neighborhood?  You’d get involved, of course!  You’d go to meetings and ask for public records about the project.  What would you do if your town stonewalled giving you key public records?  You’d have to take your town to court.

This is where several citizens of Hudson who informally call themselves SaveHudsonNH are now.  And with the money behind such a big project, this Right-to-Know case is far from typical.  Their case started pro se, without a lawyer, but quickly got too complicated.

Some aspects of the Hudson case are typical.  They asked for email records and is often the case Hudson did not provide the attachments.  Of course, for a big building project, the key details are in those attached studies and plans.  So, not getting the email attachments means they don’t have the details they need to hold Hudson and the developer accountable and make sure the interests of the citizens of Hudson are kept in mind.  And, they didn’t get emails from lots of personal email accounts used by many Hudson officials evaluating the project.

A typical Right-to-Know case is pro se and doesn’t involve any discovery.  There are no depositions or subpoenas for records.  Discovery can be imposing and expensive, which is why Hudson and the developer are needlessly pressuring the citizens of Hudson with discovery against them.

Further, there are a flurry of complicated motions back and forth, making the case more complicated and again more expensive.  Right now, there is a hearing scheduled for November 1, 2021 for 6 different pending motions: Motion to Compel, Motion to Amend Complaint, Motion to Dismiss, Motion for Evidentiary Hearing, Motion for Rule 29 Protective order, and Motion for Summary Judgment.

While this case in Hudson is more complicated than the typical Right-To-Know case, it highlights that going to court to get access to public records is always a burden.  This is just another example of why Right to Know NH is supporting House Bill 481 to add a Right-to-Know Ombudsman to keep these cases out of the courts and provide greater access for all citizens at less cost to everyone.

Amicus Brief filed in support of releasing a report on excessive force allegations against a Canaan police officer

New England First Amendment Coalition and Union Leader Corporation filed an Amicus Brief in Supreme Court in support of releasing a report on excessive force allegations against a Canaan police officer who is now a state trooper (Samuel Provenza v. Town of Canaan).


Video summary of Amicus Brief by New England First Amendment Coalition

Governor Signs HB471 to have DOJ maintain a list of police officers with a record of wrongdoing

Governor Chris Sununu signed HB471, into law on 8/25/21 and it becomes effective 9/25/21.  This law allows the Department of Justice to voluntarily maintain a list of current and former law enforcement officers with complaints and misconduct records known as the exculpatory evidence schedule (“EES”).  This schedule will be a public record available under the Right-To-Know law.  This bill also requires police disciplinary hearings to be open to the public unless certain confidential information may be revealed.

 

Governor Signs HB108 to require a list of nonpublic minutes

Governor Chris Sununu signed HB108, into law on 7/30/21.  This law:

I.  Requires that for meetings in nonpublic session where the minutes or decisions were determined to not be subject to public disclosure, a list shall be kept which shall include certain information.  The list shall be made available for public disclosure.   

II.  Exempts materials falling within the attorney-client privilege or attorney work product doctrine from the provisions of RSA 91-A. 

III.  Establishes a committee to review authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to hold virtual meetings and to study remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A.

RTKNH meeting Saturday 8/21 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, August 21, 2021 @ 9 AM by Zoom video conference.  We will discuss Right to Know (RSA 91-A) bill ideas for the upcoming legislative session.  The public is welcome to join us. If you’d like to join us, click on “Send us a message” under CONTACT US to the right and ask for the zoom conference meeting link.

State of Emergency has ended and so has executive order to expand use of meetings by electronic means

The State of Emergency declared by the Governor is no longer in effect as of June 12th.

This means the emergency order which was in effect regarding allowing electronic meetings are no longer in effect.

All public meetings must now be conducted according to the requirements outlined in RSA 91-A.  Specifically,

  • Except in an emergency, a quorum of the public body shall be physically present at the location specified in the meeting notice as the location of the meeting.
  • Each part of a meeting required to be open to the public shall be audible or otherwise discernable to the public at the location specified in the meeting notice as the location of the meeting.
  • No meeting shall be conducted by electronic mail or any other form of communication that does not permit the public to hear, read, or otherwise discern meeting discussion contemporaneously at the meeting location specified in the meeting notice.