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The NEFAC Report 
         New England's monthly right-to-know dispatch

      August 2012    
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  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

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Are you motivated by deadlines?
Aug. 15 is the drop-dead point for applications to the 2012 New England First Amendment Institute.
Here's all you need
Application form
Norfolk County DA, public defenders target OpenCourt livestreaming  

y Dan Kennedy

   BOSTON -  Despite a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in its favor earlier this year, OpenCourt continues to run into legal roadblocks in its quest to cover proceedings in Quincy District Court.

  Dan Kennedy   In July, the office of Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey and the Committee for Public Counsel Services - that is, public defenders - sought to block OpenCourt from expanding its livestreaming operations to a second courtroom known as Jury Room A.

   Arguments were heard Aug. 9 before Justice Margot Botsford. (Click  here for audio of the hearing). There was no indication when a decision will be handed downRead more 

Telegraph seeks info from once private water utility now owned by city     

By Jonathan Van Fleet
   NASHUA, N.H. - As city officials were toasting glasses full of tap water, cheering their acquisition of the once-privately owned Pennichuck Water Works, here in the newsroom of The Telegraph we already had the first of a series of Right-to-Know requests written and ready to deliver. 
   On Jan. 25, 2012 -- after 10 years of trying -- the city of Nashua bonded $152 million to obtain the water utility, its infrastructure and its land. The goal was to protect the watershed from further for-profit development and to preserve the water supply through city ownership. But city officials didn't make Pennichuck a new city department, like the police, or fire, or public works departments.  Read more   
Is there enough sunshine to prevent a Penn State scandal in New England?

By Meg Heckman

   Would stronger sunshine laws have prevented some of the sexual abuse at Penn State? Longtime journalist Al Tompkins thinks so. He explore Meg Heckman question in a column earlier this month, explaining why Penn State was able to keep many documents secret and why it matters.
Tompkins writes: "Despite being supported by tax dollars, Penn State University is not subject to the state's open records laws. Penn State's records, including police records, e-mail, phone records, calendars and memos, are closed... 
   "The abuse at Penn State is a lesson to us all about what happens when powerful people and public institutions are allowed to operate in the shadows created by what  [independent investigator Louis] Freeh called a 'closed culture.'  Read more  
Union Leader gets mixed decision on bid for questionable school spending
By Kathryn Marchocki
   MANCHESTER, N.H. - When the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District tried to keep the public from learning the results of an  i Kathryn Marchocki ndependent investigator's probe into questionable spending by its school superintendent this spring the New Hampshire Union Leader took action.     
   The statewide newspaper based in Manchester, N.H. filed a Right-to-Know petition with Hillsborough County Superior Court in May seeking the release of the investigative report into possible misuse of school district funds.  Read more
   We welcome contributions to The NEFAC Report from journalists, lawyers, adademics or other advocates of government transparency.
   If you have something to add to the conversation, please let me know. Your  stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value. - - Larry Laughlin, NEFAC Report editor. ([email protected]).