Don’t Think Open Government Matters to You? This Sunshine Week, Think Again.

By Justin Silverman Open government mattered to all of us during the height of the COVID pandemic. Government played an outsized role in our day-to-day lives then. Schools closed, storefronts shuttered and the officials making decisions about quarantines, mask mandates and vaccines often met in secret or exclusively online. We demanded access to their Zoom […]

Celebrating the Student Journalist

By Josh Moore and Justin Silverman When student journalists at Amherst Regional High School in Massachusetts heard last spring that middle schoolers in their town were experiencing transphobic and homophobic bullying, they immediately got to work. The students asked hard questions of administrators and conducted sensitive interviews with victims. With the help of their journalism […]

Civility and Government Meetings: How Towns in New Hampshire, Region are Addressing Public Commentary

By Brett G. Johnson Citizen participation at town council meetings increased during the last few years as debates raged over COVID-19 policies and school curricula. Individuals often use highly charged rhetoric or make personal accusations during public comment sessions. To maintain order, towns across the region are now considering so-called “civility ordinances” that would proscribe […]

A Broken System: Why It Pays to Be Opaque in Rhode Island

By Tim White A new public-records decision by Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office highlights the constant tug of war the public faces in accessing information they have a right to see, while also sending a clear message to government agencies: it pays to be opaque. Last year my colleague Eli Sherman asked Gov. Daniel McKee’s office for […]

Police Questionnaire in Mass. Prompts First Amendment, Open Government Challenges

By Lucas Uhl With protests against police brutality erupting across the nation, Massachusetts passed a law in 2020 to help prevent law enforcement misconduct in the state. The new law, among other things, established the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission. The nine-member commission is tasked with recertifying police officers to ensure that they […]

New England States Consider Variety of Approaches to Post-Pandemic Remote Meetings

By Jon Cubetus As New England states continue to remove the COVID-19 restrictions in place since early 2020, legislators are now wrestling with a byproduct of the pandemic that many argue should remain: remote access to public meetings. With government proceedings online and the opportunity for the public to participate remotely, citizen engagement, at least […]

Delay, Delay, Delay

Have a public records story you would like to share? Email with your experience trying to obtain information through a state public records law. By Colman M. Herman As I have documented in CommonWealth magazine, the Massachusetts public records law that went into effect in 2017 is no better than the old one. Here’s a […]

Charlie and Maura on Public Records

Have a public records story you would like to share? Email with your experience trying to obtain information through a state public records law. By Colman M. Herman During Charlie Baker’s successful 2014 campaign for Massachusetts governor, I asked a top aide whether Baker would support legislation that would subject the governor’s office to […]

Work Like There Are 625,000 Vermonters Looking Over Our Shoulders

By Jim Condos COVID-19 has strained so many of our institutions over the last year. As our Vermont government agencies work to support our state through this crisis, we must always work to maintain the public’s right to know. Fortunately, in Vermont we have made great strides. Confidence in our public institutions is needed now […]