17 February 2009

KingCast says Boston and Nashua Mayor's races prove that enjoyment of the First Amendment and Right to Know Laws require eternal vigilance.

You can always tell if a candidate truly is a man or woman "of the people" by one thing and one thing only: Their stance on Right-to-Know. It is the best litmus test available because it transcends all political affiliations. I can sooner work with a Republican with a record for transparency than I can a Democrat without one. That's why Massachusetts Senator Bruce Tarr has developed my draft legislation and forwarded it to the floor in January of this year regarding "Robert Taylor's Law" to protect people like Robert Taylor, who died in the tragic Gloucester fire of last year.

That's why Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter awarded me a Mayoral Commendation for my Right-to-Know efforts.

Which brings me to today's topic: Public officials who conduct operations under the cloak of secrecy.

Two years ago to the day,
the Nashua Telegraph editorial "City Board's Reversal Common Sense Move," celebrated the First Amendment victory secured when I threatened to sue over a Prior Restraint on First Amendment Free Speech where parents and the community basically couldn't complain to a public board about any personnel issues. CONCLUSION: The school board has done the right thing and this should be a first step in reframing how the board deals with the public.

One year ago the Nashua Telegraph sued the Aldermen after they violated the Right-to-Know Law, RSA 91-A, and KingCast was at the court hearing with Alderman Fred Teeboom to issue this report where I accurately predicted the outcome.

One year ago Boston Mayoral candidate Kevin McCrea prevailed in a lawsuit McCrea et al. v. Flaherty 71 Mass.App.Ct. 637, 885 N.E.2d 836 Mass.App.Ct.,2008 against Boston city counselors who were running around and hiding information from the public, even scheduling appearance in rotation to avoid having a quorum:
[10] Headnote Citing References (d) The “rotating quorum” argument. To provide guidance on remand, we address the defendants' assertion at oral argument that a system of rotating participation in the consideration of an issue is a legitimate device to avoid the requirement of G.L. c. 39, § 23B, second par., that “[n]o quorum of a governmental body shall meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter....” On several occasions FN15 the council allegedly posted a guard from the BRA at the door of a private meeting room to maintain a careful headcount and ensure that only a minority of councillors, albeit a rotating minority, were physically in each others' presence at any one moment, despite the fact that the council had been previously ordered to abandon this practice by a judge of the Superior Court. Shannon v. Boston City Council, Suffolk Superior Court, No. 87-5397 (Feb. 2, 1989). Moreover, the council agreed to submit to the continuing jurisdiction of the Superior Court with respect to that order.FN16

*652 Conclusion. We affirm the denial of the defendants' motion for summary judgment and the grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs as to the January 20, 2005, violation, and the failure of the December 15, 2004, meeting to “cure” any earlier violations. We also affirm the denial of the defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the alleged violations of January 13, February 17, and March 24, 2005.


We see in Nashua by last week's editorial "City Leaders Wrong on RTK law change," that Nashua has actually introduced legislation (HB 379) to
"allow the Aldermen to do exactly what Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge William Groff ruled they couldn't do just nine months ago."

And flash forward today and we see plenty of evidence of backsliding. The current Mayoral candidates, including Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty are just more of the same. McCrea runs his own construction business, has philosophy background and asks a lot of intelligent questions of his apparent rivals and of Mayor Menino, and if you follow McCrea's blog, you'll see that none of them respond to him. Flaherty has just recently admitted being wrong.

But the more people who get a chance to meet McCrea will see something decidedly different about him and his approach, and then you'll agree that open government is the only government.

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