The Union Leader reports that Right to Know NH is this year’s recipient of the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award. The award will be presented on October 5, 2017 at the Palace Theater in Manchester, NH. The event will also feature attorney Gregory V. Sullivan who will receive the Quill & Ink Award and story-teller Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show. The event is a fundraiser for the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.
Established in 2013, Right to Know NH is a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen coalition that works to make state, county and local government in New Hampshire more open and transparent. Group president David Saad and other members testify on public-access and right-to-know proposals in the Legislature and work to educate citizens and public officials about their rights and responsibilities under the Right to Know Law.
Sullivan, of Malloy & Sullivan LPC, is being honored for his “tenacious defense” of First Amendment rights, the school said, as well as his efforts to educate the public and aspiring journalists about their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Representatives from RTKNH will be attending and have a display table at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers Annual Picnic Saturday July 8th from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. This event will be held at the Sweeney Post #2 – American Legion at 251 Maple Street in Manchester, NH.
Featured Speaker: Hal Shurtleff of Camp Constitution
Emcee: Rich Girard from “Girard at Large” Radio Show – WLMW 90.7 FM
For more information on this event and to purchase tickets click here.
RIGHT-TO-KNOW LAW EDUCATIONAL SESSION SCHEDULED FOR BOARD MEMBERS AND COMMUNITY – TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2017
The members of the Town of Durham’s boards, committees, commissions, Town Council, and Library Board of Trustees serve as members of public boards and are therefore responsible to act in accordance with the Right-to-Know law in the State of New Hampshire. The Preamble of the Right-to-Know law reads:
Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.
In order to ensure that the members of Durham’s public boards are given the resources they need to act in accord with RSA 91-A, a Right-to-Know law educational session has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 25, 2017, beginning at 7:00 PM in the Durham Town Hall Town Council chambers.
Attorney Laura Spector Morgan from The Mitchell Group will be present to provide an overview of the Right-to-Know law and to answer any questions that board members may have.
The general public are invited and encouraged to attend the session, or to view it on Durham Community Access Television (Channel 22).
For more information contact:
Todd I. Selig, Administrator
Town of Durham, NH
8 Newmarket Rd., Durham, NH 03824
Last week citizens across the country and New Hampshire took part in Sunshine Week by celebrating their rights to an open government.
Sunshine Week has ended but enthusiasm for a more open and transparent government continues.
During Sunshine Week, Right to Know NH (RTKNH) participated in the following events and radio broadcasts:
Training and panel discussion on the Right-to-Know Law organized by the New England First Amendment Coalition and hosted by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and held in Manchester.
NH public radio: N.H. Needs Independent Arbiter To Hear Complaints
Girard at-Large: David Saad on Right to Know NH
RTKNH looks forward to taking part in Sunshine Week again next year and encourages all members of the public who are interested in open government to attend future sunshine week events. In the meantime, join RTKNH and help us advocate for a more open and transparent government.
Our right to know what our government is doing lasts only as long as our vigilance to insist on it. For RTKNH every week is Sunshine week. Let the sun shine!
Join us Tonight, March 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. for a public event at the Hunt Memorial Building at 6 Main St. in Nashua where experts on the state’s public records law will detail how to get them using the state’s right-to-know law, RSA 91-A.
If you are experiencing difficulty getting public records, RTKNH members will be available from 6 to 7 p.m. to discuss your case one-on-one with you. Just show up with your questions.
At 7 p.m., David Saad, president of Right to Know NH will present an easy-to-understand guide to help you know how to obtain public records and exercise your right to know.
Then, First Amendment Attorney Rick Gagliuso will share his experiences fighting for public records for a variety of news outlets since the 1980s. A panel of news reporters, editors and citizens, including Chris Garofolo from the Telegraph of Nashua, and Nancy West from InDepthNH.org, will also be on hand.
Find more details here.
The event is free and sponsored by The Telegraph of Nashua, InDepthNH.org and the New England First Amendment Coalition.
Sunshine Week (March 12-18) is a nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.
Right to Know NH (RTKNH) is dedicated to raising awareness of your right to a government which is open, accessible, and accountable.
“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” – James Madison
“The right of freely examining public characters & measures, & of free communication thereon, is the only effectual guardian of every other right” – James Madison
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government” – Thomas Jefferson
To raise awareness and educate the public on their right to know, Right to Know New Hampshire (RTKNH), in partnership with several other organizations, will be conducting a presentation on the Right-to-Know law (RSA 91-A) during the following Sunshine Week events:
Monday March 13th – The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and New England First Amendment Coalition will present a discussion concerning the key to open government in New Hampshire — the Right to Know Law. “The Right to Know in New Hampshire, in Theory and Practice”. The two-part program will include a presentation by RTKNH on the Right-to-Know Law and a panel discussing the law from varying perspectives. More details and flyer.
Thursday March 16th – The Telegraph of Nashua, IndepthNH, and the New England First Amendment Coalition are sponsoring a presentation and discussion concerning the Right-to-know law. The three-part program consists of a workshop on right to know requests, a presentation on the Right-to-Know Law by RTKNH, and a panel discussing the law from varying perspectives. More details and poster.
Admission to all events is free and open to the public.
Right to Know NH is proud to have among our board members two recipients of the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award given out annually since 2013 by the New England First Amendment Coalition. The award is given to an individual from one of the six New England states who has fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or what its government is doing — or not doing — on its behalf. The recipients have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty while obtaining information that the public has a right to know.
In 2015, one of our founding members, Harriet Cady, was recognized for her tireless service to the cause of open government. Here’s what the New England First Amendment Coalition wrote about Mrs. Cady:
Harriet Cady is a frequent speaker on freedom of information concerns and recently helped to create the watchdog group Right to Know New Hampshire. The group advocates for the state’s freedom of information law and Article 8 of the state constitution, which protects public access to government meetings and records.
“Every year, there are attempts made to make it harder, or too expensive, for residents to see what government is doing,” she told the Union Leader last year. “It irritates me beyond belief. It’s a fight I’m always ready for.”
Cady has been an advocate for transparency and FOI concerns for more than 40 years. Her persistence and lengthy track-record separate her from other award nominees this year, said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director.
In her acceptance speech, Mrs. Cady spoke about two New Hampshire Supreme Court cases she won that set important precedents. Michael Miller v. Fremont School Board established the principal that deliberation cannot be done via email. Harriet Cady v. Town of Deerfield established that plaintiffs do not have to prove that a public body willfully violated the Right to Know Law.
This year, another board member, Donna Green, was similarly recognized by the New England First Amendment Coalition. They published this about Mrs. Green:
Green is a member of Right to Know New Hampshire, a state-based government transparency organization, a representative of Sandown on the Timberlane Regional School Board, and president of the newly formed School District Governance Association of New Hampshire. As a school board member, Green began her public records quest two years ago by requesting school district salary information. The superintendent’s office (SAU55), however, refused to provide this information in an electronic format. The New Hampshire Right to Know Law, the SAU argued, didn’t require this information to be released electronically even if available in that form. Instead, Green was limited to inspecting the records in person or paying 50 cents a page for paper printouts, which would have cost well over $150. Green unsuccessfully challenged that interpretation of the law in a pro se lawsuit in Superior Court. With the assistance of attorney Richard Lehmann, she appealed to the state’s highest court. In a decision last April, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Green, saying that the Right to Know Law should be interpreted broadly and facilitate the efficient and cost-effective production of records. The court found that the distribution of public, non-confidential information in commonly used electronic formats ensures the greatest degree of openness and the greatest amount of public access to the decisions made by the public officials. Read more here.
View the award ceremony here (Award to Donna Green starts at 9 minutes into video)
Antonia Orfield was an optometrist, author, professor and compassionate citizen who worked to improve public schools. She pioneered unconventional vision-related remedies to learning problems and changed the lives of many children.
Right to Know New Hampshire strives to educate elected officials about the Right-to-Know law while assisting individuals in exercising their right to know about their government’s actions and to improve government transparency.
We invite other committed citizens to join us.