Sunday, April 05, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Boston's City Council Adds Full Dockets to Website
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Free Workshop on Investigative Reporting and FOI
On Friday, May 1st, from 9 a.m. to 3:30, the Coalition, in partnership with the New England First Amendment Center at Northeastern and the Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., will host a free conference at the Boston Globe on investigative reporting and FOI issues. The "keynote" speaker at the event will be Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It promises to be a very valuable and interesting conference for anyone who is interested in open government issues.
The following is an excerpt from the description of the planned program for the day. If you have a passion for open government issues and you would like to attend, you can register at the New England First Amendment Center's website.
The workshop is for professional and civic journalists and for those who work in related areas, such as nonprofit employees who monitor government action. It will kick off with a session that examines how strong newsrooms are built around a lasting awareness of FOI issues and how access to public records serves as a driving force behind top-quality reporting. Next, learn about the public records gold mine that exists in your town or city hall, and how to identify, request and use this valuable information to do enterprise and investigative reporting. After lunch, Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, will talk about the role of the press in keeping government open, and the threat posed by erosion of local media. Also in the afternoon, find out about two dozen open-records Web sites that are of value to any newsroom or organization that wants to keep tabs on government, and how to search the Web more effectively.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Sunshine Week 2009
The following are just a few of the stories that appeared online during Sunshine Week 2009 (March 22 - 28). For more stories about the Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government’s recognition awards ceremony that took place at the State House during Sunshine Week, please go to the Common Cause Massachusetts news feed page.
Second of a two part series about government reform. This part focuses on proposed changes to the open meeting and public records law pending in the legislature. The first part, “Winds of reform could chill Statehouse scandals”, by Dan Ring, focuses on ethics reform.
This is a reprint of a piece about the author’s problems with obtaining public records under the open meeting. He made his request in April, 2008, and his appeal to the State was still pending as of March 2009. Who says there are no problems with the current Public Records Law?
Article about the Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government’s recognition of almost 120 cities and towns for posting key public records online.
Piece about the importance of the local newspaper in obtaining access to local government information.
Calls for updating policies and procedures to address electronic record retention issues.
“As part of Sunshine Week, the Daily News requested copies of e-mails sent between 13 area school superintendents and the heads of their respective school committees during March 2008.” Results are contained in the article.
Local counsel says no violation of open meeting law occurred in how the school committee handled the retiring school superintendent’s contract.
Article about how the town of
March 23, 2009, The Beacon
Another article about the Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government, Common Cause Massachusetts annual recognition awards to local websites for posting key public records online.
What's New In Open Government...
A continuing series linking to reports and stories on the web about open government issues around Massachusetts. The following are stories about open government issues that appeared during the last week in February and the first week in March, 2009:
“A local hunter is asking the state attorney general and Ethics Commission to investigate whether the Conservation Commission violated the Open Meeting Law by communicating through e-mail…”
Feb. 27, 2009, Media Law blog, Robert Ambrogi
March 3, 2009, Sudbury Watch blog, Sabo
Provides an example of a public records request letter.
A story about the Jackson Square Citizens Advisory Committee excluding the press from some of its meetings. Apparently a few chosen citizens think only they should be privy to information that could affect a number of citizens. How can that be right?
March 8, 2009, Media Law blog, Robert Ambrogia
Another great posting by Robert Ambrogia about a possible open meeting law violation, this time in Auburn. The story referenced was in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Common Cause to Honor 117 Municipalities on Thursday [that's today] at the State House as Part of Sunshine Week Celebration
BOSTON – Tomorrow [TODAY-March 19, 2009] at 1:00pm in the Nurses’ Hall at the State House Common Cause will honor 117 municipalities that have posted at least six important local governance documents on their websites. Representatives from each community will be presented with the 2009 e-Government Award. The event occurs during Sunshine Week, a national initiative by the American Society of Newspaper Editors created to raise awareness about the importance of open government and freedom of information.
The event is part of Common Cause’s on-going Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government, which periodically reviews the Internet presence of all 351 cities and towns in the state. The current audit of all municipal websites in the Commonwealth will be released at the event. The first assessment in early 2006 found that only 24 municipalities – or about 7 percent – have all six key records posted online. The six documents included in the review are the municipality's governing body’s agenda, the governing body’s minutes, budget information, the municipality’s bylaws, code or ordinances, and if applicable, the town meeting warrant and results.
The list of towns to be honored include: Amesbury, Amherst, Andover, Arlington, Ashburnham, Ashland, Barnstable, Becket, Bedford, Bellingham, Belmont, Bolton, Boston, Boxborough, Brookline, Burlington, Cambridge, Carver, Charlton, Chatham, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Chilmark, Concord, Dalton, Dedham, Dennis, Dudley, Dunstable, Duxbury, East Longmeadow, Eastham, Easton, Egremont, Everett, Falmouth, Fitchburg, Freetown, Gardner, Gill, Gloucester, Haverhill, Holden, Holland, Holliston, Holyoke, Hopkinton, Hudson, Ipswich, Kingston, Lakeville, Leominster, Littleton, Longmeadow, Lowell, Malden, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marlborough, Mashpee, Maynard, Melrose, Methuen, Millbury, Milton, Monterey, Nantucket, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Norfolk, North Andover, North Reading, Northampton, Northborough, Northbridge, Orange, Orleans, Otis*, Paxton, Pembroke, Pepperell, Provincetown, Reading, Rockland, Rockport, Salem, Salisbury, Sandwich, Saugus, Scituate, Sharon, Sheffield, Somerville, South Hadley, Southwick, Springfield, Sterling, Sturbridge, Sudbury, Sutton, Tewksbury, Topsfield, Upton, West Boylston, West Springfield, Westford, Westminster, Weston, Westwood, Weymouth, Wilbraham, Williamstown, Winchester, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, and Wrentham.
“It’s time to bring local government into the 21st century,” said Common Cause Massachusetts’ Executive Director Pam Wilmot. “The Internet makes it easy and cost effective to facilitate public access and citizen engagement by, at a minimum, posting these six key records. More and more people rely on the Internet for critical information each day. Communities that provide this information are providing an important service to their citizens.”
What: 2009 e-Government Award Ceremony
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009
Place: Nurses’ Hall, State House, Boston
ABOUT COMMON CAUSE:
Common Cause Massachusetts is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, government watchdog, dedicated to citizen participation in an open, honest, and accountable government. An independent, member-supported organization, Common Cause has more than 200,000 members nationwide and 10,000 in Massachusetts.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Andover, Methuen, and Orleans All Have Video On Demand.
Unfortunately, none of the on demand videos of all three of these communities allow the viewer to jump ahead to a particular spot on the agenda for the meeting, although the Orleans videos allow the viewer to skip around on the video to different spots. In any event, the citizens of Methuen, Andover, and Orleans now have greater access to information about local government meetings.