Conn. FOI Ruling Should Challenge Norwalk School Board That ‘Does Not Exist’

By James H. Smith The state Freedom of Information Commission will decide this month whether allegations of discrimination and racism among Norwalk school board members should be made public. Those who want to keep it all secret point to Norwalk Board of Education bylaw Section 9010: The board of education does not exist between meetings. Board members […]

Now is Time to Reform Public Records Law; Senate Needs to Make Most of Opportunity

By Justin Silverman The Massachusetts Senate released this week a bill that could help fix our broken public records law. While the legislation (S.2120) is much stronger than the lackluster proposal by the House last year, the Senate needs to now decide the fate of the many proposed amendments that could could drastically affect the […]

Crafting Budget in Secret is an Affront to Maine Residents

By Judy Meyer Last June, the four highest ranking party leaders in Maine stepped behind closed doors to draft a budget and re-write tax law in secret. Why? The men — two Democrats and two Republicans — said Maine had run out of time to craft a budget in public, which is specifically prescribed in […]

With Body Cam Bills and FOI Laws on Collision Course, Several Reminders to Lawmakers

By Amanda Palmeira Police body camera legislation and state freedom of information laws are on a collision course. With 34 states considering legislation to address body cameras for law enforcement last year, questions about the public’s accessibility to the footage captured by those cameras still abound. Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic recently argued, however, […]

New Hampshire House Bills Will Improve Government Transparency

By David Saad Government transparency is not a partisan issue. It is a core value in a democracy and helps voters make informed decisions. Yet, when our state, counties, school districts, and municipal government agencies meet behind closed doors government transparency becomes limited. While there are some legitimate reasons why these agencies may exclude the […]

Report: Rhode Island Consumer Complaint Policy Clouds New England’s Sunshine

By Fran Silverman Consumer complaints filed against businesses can provide valuable information for both journalists and customers on how a company operates and treats its patrons. But not all New England states make this information filed with state consumer protection agencies readily available, according to a recently released report by Connecticut-based ad watchdog, or […]

With Massachusetts Public Records, Reform is in Everyone’s Interest

By Amanda Palmeira With legislation intended to reform the Massachusetts public records law expected to be addressed soon by the state Senate, a group not often associated with the effort recently emphasized the importance of transparency beyond the interests of attorneys and journalists. The Massachusetts Genealogical Council — representing genealogists, historical societies, librarians and researchers […]

No Secret Trials

By James H. Smith Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly are to be commended for their 2015 “Second Chance Society” legislation, reversing racist laws that filled our jails with nonviolent drug users, most of them African-American and Latino. But it is ill-advised to pursue announced policies emanating from that corrective action, especially […]

We Are The Transparency Police

By Philip Eil By now, it’s clear the Obama Administration can’t be trusted to accurately describe its own transparency. The rhetoric simply doesn’t match the reality. The president has claimed he’s running the “most transparent administration in history” and yet a host of news organizations — from the Atlantic, to Bloomberg Business, to The New […]

Connecticut’s FOI Commission Rules that PR Consultants Are Not Lawyers

By David DesRoches Public relations consultants in Connecticut have no special protection when it comes to work they perform for a legal team on behalf of a public entity, according to a recent decision by the state’s Freedom of Information Commission. The school district in Darien, one of the nation’s wealthiest communities, had hired a […]