David Saad, president of Right to Know NH, was awarded the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award by the New England First Amendment Coalition last week. The NEFAC recognized David Saad for his work with RTKNH:
In 2013, David Saad and several other citizens formed Right to Know NH as a nonpartisan citizen coalition working to improve transparency of New Hampshire state, county, and local governments. As president of the coalition, Saad’s advocacy includes drafting legislation to strengthen the state’s Right to Know Law and testifying during legislative hearings. He developed training materials and conducts training seminars on the public’s right to know. In 2017, Saad served on a commission established by the New Hampshire Legislature to study alternative processes that could be used to resolve public grievances involving public records and open meetings. He played a key role in drafting the commission’s findings report and proposed legislation intended to establish an independent ombudsman and appeals commission.
Congratulations to our president, David Saad!
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.
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.
The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine, and New Hampshire resident Donna Green for their right-to-know advocacy and work on behalf of the First Amendment.
The Sun Journal will be presented NEFAC’s 2017 Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award for uncovering a Maine judicial policy that sealed the records of all dismissed criminal cases. Led by editor Judy Meyer, the Sun Journal fought against the policy and formed a coalition of freedom of information advocates to help force an end to the practice. The FOI Award is presented annually to New England journalists who protect or advance the public’s right to know under federal or state law.
Green will be presented the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award for her efforts in requiring New Hampshire agencies to provide documents electronically when requested. Green took a public records battle to the state’s Supreme Court, which last year unanimously ruled in her favor. The Citizenship Award is given annually to an individual from one of the six New England states who has tenaciously fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or the actions of its government.
Both the Sun Journal and Green will be honored at NEFAC’s New England First Amendment Awards luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston. During the luncheon, Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan will be honored with the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award.
Tickets are $100 per person and can be purchased here.
Donna Green is a board member of RTKNH and president of the
School District Governance Association NH (SDGA NH).
On November 17th the Nackey Loeb School of Communications presented First Amendment Awards to Donna Green and David Pearl. Both have been outspoken advocates for the Right-to-Know Law.
Donna Green is a member of RTKNH and the Timberlane Regional School Board. Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in Green’s favor after she challenged her school district for refusing to release documents in electronic format.
Here is an excerpt from Donna Green’s prepared remarks which were abbreviated during her speech:
People sometimes ask me and Arthur how we can keep up the fight. We’ve battled for financial transparency in our school district and SAU. We’ve fought doggedly, though unsuccessfully, to prevent school district spending from rising while enrollment plummets. We helped in an aborted effort to get Sandown out of our cooperative school district. Arthur drafted legislation to clarify the law concerning town withdrawals from a cooperative school district which was in good part responsible for the legislature invoking a study commission on which I now participate. It’s been an amazing journey that shows the remarkable power of individual citizens in NH, and the remarkable nature of NH government.
When we were first talking about how far we should go with our court case, Arthur said,
If not us, then who?
When an injured person comes to your door, you cannot say “Go somewhere else.” Each of us carries the burden of defending our injured liberties as best we are able.
The 14th Annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Awards will be presented Nov. 17, 2016, at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.
This year’s Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award is a joint award, being shared by two citizen activists who spoke out for our right to know and government transparency.
The recipients are Timberlane Regional School Board member Donna Green of Sandown and the late David Pearl of Hooksett.
Donna Green, a member of Right to Know NH, is sharing the award with David Pearl, a former Hooksett school board member, volunteer extraordinaire, and Right to Know advocate whose family will be accepting the award for him posthumously. The Ink and Quill award will be recognizing the lifetime achievement of Claire Ebel who led the ACLU NH for 30 years.
It is a great opportunity to meet many people whose right to know issues often make the news as the reception is a popular gathering for journalists and other citizens who are prominent in free speech and right to know issues in New Hampshire.
The awards ceremony is being held at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, NH. on Thursday Nov. 17.
For more information about the award, the speakers and obtaining tickets, go to http://www.palacetheatre.org/event-detail/2016-11-17/nackey-s-loeb-first-amendment-awards/86112/
Right To Know NH thanks Ms. Cady for her unrelenting advocacy for citizens’ rights across New Hampshire. Serving on the original NH Right to Know Commission, Ms. Cady is also co-founder of Right To Know NH, a non-partisan citizen advocacy organization focused on strengthening the Right To Know Law (RSA 91-A). In 2015, Ms. Cady was awarded the honorable distinction of Citizen of the Year by the New England First Amendment Coalition for 4 decades of activism. Ms. Cady previously served in the N.H. House of Representatives from 2002 to 2006.
Ms. Cady subscribes to the belief that elected NH officials are public servants who are in turn, always accountable to their constituents.