Let there be light
To the Editor: It’s Sunshine Week, a national observance stressing the importance of open government, but in New Hampshire, our Right-to-Know is cloudy, at best.
In 2015, the Center for Public Integrity rated all 50 states on public access to information. New Hampshire received an F rating. A key factor was the lack of any formal appeal mechanism if an agency rebuffed a RTK request.
Currently, your only recourse is to go to court. But now, thanks to the efforts of passionate open-government advocates and volunteers from the nonpartisan citizen coalition group, Right-to-Know NH, several “ombudsman” bills have been introduced to create an alternate appeals process.
Dark clouds will continue to shroud transparency in N.H. until our public officials change their mindset. This must start at the top. The AG’s office needs to stick to the N.H. Constitution: “... 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.”
Instead of fighting an expensive battle to keep the “Laurie List/EES” secret, the AG should immediately disclose the full, unredacted Exculpatory Evidence Schedule to the public. It is the decent thing to do.
When the AG chooses to black out the names of cops with “sustained findings of misconduct,” and then fights to keep this a secret from us, we truly live in dark times. Let there be light!