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CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | email@example.com
The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor New Hampshire native and long-time open government activist Harriet Cady with its 2015 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. The award will be presented this week at NEFAC’s annual luncheon in Boston.
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.
“Harriet exemplifies the type of individual we recognize each year with our Citizenship Award,” Silverman said. “She is a zealous defender of the public’s right to know and has worked hard to keep her community informed.”
Cady’s advocacy has led to several right to know lawsuits. As a paralegal, she helped residents file claims against their town officials and she argued on the residents’ behalf.
In two cases, her involvement led to court decisions that either reaffirmed or broadened the state’s Right to Know Law. In Cioffi v. Sanbornton (2001), the court ordered town officials to change their check signing procedure to allow for more transparency. In Miller v. Dreyer (2003), the court addressed the use of email by officials to conduct town business, deciding that the public should have access to those records.
More recently, Cady successfully challenged pro se a Superior Court’s determination that town officials must willfully disregard open meeting requirements in order to violate the right to know statute.
Throughout her career, Cady has served the public in many roles, most recently serving in the New Hampshire legislature from 2002 to 2006, and spending five years as an appointee to the state’s Right to Know Commission. During her time on the commission, Cady helped review and rewrite sections of the New Hampshire public records and open meeting law.
The Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award will be presented at NEFAC’s annual New England First Amendment Awards Luncheon on Feb. 20 at the Seaport Hotel, One Seaport Lane in Boston. Retired federal judge Nancy Gertner and slain journalist James Foley will also be honored. Judge Gertner will received the 2015 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. The Foley family will accept the 2015 Freedom of Information Award on behalf of James, who worked for Boston-based GlobalPost. David Case, an editor at GlobalPost, will also be present to introduce the Foley family. Tickets can be purchased here.
New England First Amendment Awards Luncheon
February 20, 2015 | 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Seaport Hotel | 1 Seaport Lane | Boston, Mass.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.