Sunshine Week 2020
The goal of Sunshine Week — March 15-21 this year with related events occurring throughout the month — is to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
Transparency in Government is Essential During the Coronavirus | The Boston Globe
Justin Silverman of the New England First Amendment Coalition
Timely and accurate information about government is crucial to maintaining trust during a crisis. We can’t trust our public institutions unless we know what they’re doing on our behalf. When authorities provide guidance on how to flatten the curve, for example, we need to know the facts supporting their remarks. When difficult decisions are made about medical care or restricting civil liberties, we need to know how and why these decisions were made. Only through that transparency can we trust that government is responding appropriately.
Keeping the Light On – During Sunshine Week and Always | Caledonian Record, Concord Monitor, New Hampshire Business Review and The Union Leader
Justin Silverman of the New England First Amendment Coalition and Laura Simoes of the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications
Whether through whistleblowers like Kois or the use of state and federal freedom of information laws, knowing about our government is crucial to maintaining trust in public institutions. This trust is essential to our democracy and increasingly, given the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our safety. When government authorities provide guidance on how to slow the spread of the virus, for example, we need to know the facts and data supporting their remarks. When difficult decisions are made regarding medical care or the curtailment of civil liberties, we ultimately need to know how these decisions were made and why. Only through this transparency can we understand for ourselves if government is acting in our best interest.
Government Should Be an Open Book
Jim Condos, Vermont Secretary of State
Whether we’re discussing where to turn to for election information in the face of Russian attacks on our democracy, or which sources to listen to for updates on the emerging coronavirus outbreak, how can we expect people to heed our call to look to official government sources for information if the public’s trust in our institutions has been so badly damaged?
T&G Still Pursuing Police IAD Records in Court | Telegram & Gazette
“You know there’s an issue when the Massachusetts State Police is being more transparent than you,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. Silverman, whose organization defends and promotes public access to government, said internal affairs reports are crucial to the public’s understanding of whether officers who commit misconduct are being held accountable. “It’s all about the trust that we as citizens can have of our law enforcement, and without knowing of allegations of misconduct and how departments are responding, it’s very difficult to maintain that trust,” Silverman said. Silverman said departments withholding information is common – a dynamic that leaves people wondering about whether they are adequately policing themselves. If an officer committed misconduct, the public deserves to know, Silverman said, and if they did not, it would only seem beneficial to everyone to let the public know the conclusion was reached after a thorough process.
What Types of Force Can KPD Use? City Won’t Say | The Keene Sentinel
It’s hard for the public to assess such claims when key parts of the relevant policy are kept hidden, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, a transparency advocacy group. “It’s really difficult to know if police are acting reasonably when it comes to the use of force if we don’t know what their policies are,” he said.
From Crashes to Arrests, Information in Worcester Harder to Come By | Telegram & Gazette
“You’re making the whole system more efficient and relieving some of the burden of public record requests from your own system,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. Silverman, whose organization defends and promotes public access to government, said he would expect Worcester, at a minimum, to be posting its arrest records online. “Worcester is a major city that we should expect these things from,” he said. “In fact, we should expect police logs to be posted online for every municipality.
How Transparent is N.H. Government and Why It Matters
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Nashua Community College
505 Amherst Street, Room 150
GILLES BISSONNETTE ACLU of New Hampshire | MARK DOYLE Emergency Services and Communication | RICK GAGLIUSO NEFAC, Bernstein Shur | DEAN SHALHOUP The Telegraph | NANCY WEST New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism
• Sunshine Week Forum: Your Right To Public Records, Open Meetings is Evolving | InDepthNH
• Transparency Forum to Highlight Government Efforts to Conceal Info | The Telegraph