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

      November  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." 

Follow NEFAC's ongoing First Amendment conversation as it develops across New England   Follow us on Twitter
Doors will Open to Concord Monitor
By Larry Laughlin

   CONCORD, N.H. - The Nov. 6 election gave Democrats control of the New Hampshire House,  removing Speaker William O'Brien from leadership and reopening doors to reporter Annmarie Timmins and readers of the Concord Monitor.

   Timmins said both Democratic candidates for speaker "have assured me that the Monitor will once again be viewed as a member of the State House press corps."  Read more 

Globe's Baron Going to The
Washington Post

    Martin Baron, editor of The Boston Globe since 2001 and recipient of NEFAC's 2012 Stephen Hamblett Award for his right-to-know advocacy, is leaving Boston to become executive editor of The Washington Post. 
   NEFAC President Mary Jane Wilkinson, who worked with Baron at the Globe during a national economic crisis and shrinking industry revenues, congratulated her former colleague.  
   "He had an impressive run during some very difficult times ... and we wish him much success in his new position," she said. 
   The Globe won six Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure and kicked off the clergy sexual abuse probe that continues to rock the Roman Catholic Church.
Read more    
VT Must Clarify What Info is Public in Marijuana  Dispensary Applications
By Tom Kearney  

   STOWE, Vt. -  I'm hoping for a happy ending to a dispute over the secrecy surrounding applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Vermont.

Tom Kearney mug

   And, I hope it includes a requirement that any new

exceptions to Vermont's public records law be spelled out clearly by the Legislature, and that elected lawmakers - not state bureaucrats - are the only people who can decide that specific government records can be kept secret.

   This case underlines the challenge facing people in Vermont and New Hampshire, where the right-to-know laws are the only statutes on the books that nobody's responsible for enforcing.  

   If you think the law's been violated, then it's up to you to take the issue to court.  Read more     

Maine's First Public Access Ombudsman Getting a Feel for the Job
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling 
   Brenda Kielty has a legislative mandate, a chock-full appointment
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
and good intentions as Maine's first Public Access Ombudsman.
   Her actions over the next several months are likely to have far-reaching con sequences for public access in Maine in the years and decades to come.
   Kielty, formerly the special assistant to the attorney general, said she is fully committed to the lofty ideals that went into creating the position.
   "Public access is just absolutely fundamental," she said. "Our law is based on it. The government is doing the people's business and the people need to know their business."  Read more   
Editor Says Prepare Carefully and Speak for Yourself in Court 
By Rodney G. Doherty    

   DOVER, N.H. - In late October, Foster's Daily Democrat reporter Jim Haddadin filed a right-to-know request in Strafford County Superior Court

Rod Doherty

to unseal affidavits related to the murder earlier in the month of UNH student Elizabeth "Lizzie" Marriott, 19.

    Marriott was, investigators said, strangled or suffocated in a Dover apartment during a sexual encounter. Her alleged killer, Seth Mazzaglia, took her body to Peirce Island in Portsmouth and tossed it into the Piscataqua River.

   As of this writing, her body has not been found and there has been no further disclosure of the details of the case. It was only from a Foster's Daily Democrat source that we learned the murder occurred during a sexual encounter. Whether that encounter was consensual is not known publicly.  Read more    

NEFAC to Honor Philip Balboni with 2013 Hamblett Award for First Amendment Advocacy  
   The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor NECN and GlobalPost founder Philip Balboni with its 2013 Stephen Hamblett Award for First Amendment advocacy at its annual luncheon Feb. 8.
Balboni, Phil

   "Phil Balboni has displayed a long and deep commitment to First Amendment principles, exactly what we seek to honor in memory of Stephen Hamblett, who set a high standard as publisher of the Providence Journal," said NEFAC President Mary Jane Wilkinson.
   Balboni was the architect of New England Cable News, which was the nation's first 24-hour, regional TV news network when it went live in 1992. He served initially as NECN's chairman and then as president and CEO for 16 years.
   He was a co-founder in 2009 of the international news site GlobalPost, which now has a network of correspondents filing stories from more than 50 countries a month.
   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]).