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.

 

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Adult Parole Board audit reveals multiple Right-to-Know Law violations

The State of New Hampshire Adult Parole Board Performance Audit Report dated April 2019 documents multiple Right-to-Know law violations.  The audit was performed by the State of NH Office of Legislative Budget Assistant based on a recommendation of the Joint Legislative Performance Audit and Oversight Committee.

The violations found include:

  1. The Board regularly conducted its administrative meetings in a manner contrary to Right-to-Know Law requirements.
  2. The Board was unable to provide minutes for eight of the 17 meetings during the audit period.
  3. The Board had at least three legal consultations during the audit period after its public meetings had adjourned. However, the Board did not limit its discussions to legal matters and did not reconvene to deliberate or finalize its decisions.
  4. [The Board] did not post meeting notices in two locations as required.
  5. The Board did not render final decisions in compliance with statute. Instead, the hearing panel informally discussed the matter until a general consensus was reached, and a member of the panel would announce the decision without any corresponding motions or votes.

The Audit Findings recommend the following:

  1. The Board comply with Right-to-Know Law requirements when conducting any Board business by posting notices, properly finalizing decisions, adopting minutes, and posting approved minutes;

    • enter into non-public session to discuss sensitive and confidential matters or materials; and
    • limit discussions to legal matters during consultation with legal counsel and deliberate and finalize decisions in public or non-public meetings.

  2. The Board immediately obtain clarification from the DOJ as to whether the Board should conduct hearings under its authority in public or non-public session. Regardless of the final determination for conducting hearings, the Board should begin developing formal procedures to comply with the Right-to-Know Law by:

    • posting notice of meetings in two public locations;
    • formally opening hearings by the Board Chair or designated chair;
    • ensuring verbatim recordings identify all members and persons appearing before the Board for the record;
    • making proper motions during hearings;
    • voting on final decisions; and
    • documenting, adopting, and retaining meeting minutes for each hearing day containing names of members present, persons appearing before the Board, brief description of subject matter, and final decisions.

  3. The Board formalize training of the Right-to-Know Law by incorporating the Memorandum and investigating the availability of training provided by the DOJ. The Board should require attendance of all Board members and key Board staff as part of formal training.
  4. The Board review administrative rules related to disclosing member votes and providing verbatim recordings to any person upon request, and remedy conflicts with statute.

Right-to-Know law changed to require written explanation when records are withheld

Governor Sununu signed HB396 into law on June 21th.

HB396 changes the Right-to-Know Law (RSA 91-A).  When a request for a governmental record is denied or portions of the record are redacted, the public body must provide a written statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record and/or redactions along with a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld and/or redactions made.

This bill was drafted by Right to Know New Hampshire (RTKNH).

BILL SPONSORS: Rep. DiLorenzo, Rock. 17; Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. Horrigan, Straf. 6; Rep. Ulery, Hills. 37; Rep. Wuelper, Straf. 3; Rep. Janvrin, Rock. 37; Rep. Morrison, Rock. 9; Sen. Giuda, Dist 2; Sen. Carson, Dist 14

This change takes effect January 1, 2020.

NH Right to Know Articles of Interest

RTKNH to attend CNHT picnic July 6

Representatives from RTKNH will be attending and have a display table at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers Annual Picnic Saturday July 6th from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm. This event will be held at the Young-Richardson American Legion Post #59 at 538 W Main St., Hillsborough, New Hampshire 03244.

Emcee: Keith Hanson

For more information on this event and to purchase tickets click here.

 

We have a Right to Know about Bad Cops

Please sign the petition asking the Governor Sununu to release the entire unredacted Laurie List/Exculpatory Evidence Schedule (“EES”) to the public.

We strongly oppose the NH Attorney General’s attempts to keep the Laurie List/Exculpatory Evidence Schedule (“EES”) secret from the public.

The EES is a list of New Hampshire law enforcement officers with sustained findings of misconduct for credibility or trustworthiness, like lying, falsifying reports, stealing, and excessive force.

In a court order dated April 23, 2019, Judge Charles Temple ruled the EES is “not confidential,” and “is not exempt from disclosure under RSA 91-A,” and that it should be made public“.

Despite this, the NH Attorney General has now filed an appeal, at taxpayer expense, to continue to keep this list of bad cops secret from the public.

“When you keep information like this secret, it creates distrust and suspicion,” says Gilles Bissonnette with the ACLU of New Hampshire. “It’s bad for the public, it’s bad for police. It is really critical that we don’t undermine faith and confidence in law enforcement, but that’s what secrecy does.”

“These officers have engaged in sustained misconduct that concerns credibility and truthfulness, and the public has a clear right to this information—especially when it goes to the core of an officer’s ability to perform their duties.”

We respectfully urge Governor Sununu to instruct his Attorney General to immediately:

1. Withdraw the EES appeal;
2. Release the entire unredacted EES; and
3. Permanently keep the EES public, as required by the NH Constitution:

“Art. 8. Accountability of Magistrates and Officers; Public’s Right to Know. All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and AT ALL TIMES ACCOUNTABLE TO THEM. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.”

 

RTKNH meeting Saturday 6/15 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 9:00 A.M. in Concord, NH at 8 North Main Street in the office of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.   We will discuss the status of Right to Know (RSA 91-A) bills in the legislature and begin planning for the next legislative session.

The public is welcome to join us.

RTKNH meets with foreign leaders to discuss NH government transparency

On May 2,  representatives of RTKNH met with a group of international visitors from a number of North and South American countries interested in learning about Transparency and Accountability in NH Government.  The meeting was organized by the World Affairs Council of NH International Visitor Professional Development Leadership Exchange Program through the US Department of State. The International Visitor Professional Development Leadership Exchange Program helps strengthen U.S. engagement with countries around the world and cultivate lasting relationships by connecting current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term visits to the United States.

The meeting focus was on advocacy and coalition-building to garner support for strengthening open government laws, what successes RTKNH has had, and the obstacles RTKNH has faced – including efforts to implement an Ombudsman and the Citizens’ Right to Know Appeals Commission.
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