March 2013    
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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 
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NEFAC Luncheon Moved to April 10  
  The annual NEFAC awards luncheon that was a casualty of  the February blizzard will be held April 10 at the Seaport Boston Hotel.  
   Philip Balboni, NECN founder and GlobalPost co-founder, will receive the third annual Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award.
   Inaugural right-to-know awards will go to
David Lang, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, and to Don Stacom of  The Hartford Courant.
   Tickets can be purchased on NEFAC's Web site.

Keep up with First Amendment issues via NEFAC's blog

   It's a forum for citizens, journalists, students, public policy advocates and government officials to have their say on First Amendment issues.
   The blog is maintained by the staff of the New England First Amendment Center at the School of Journalism at Northeastern University.
   Submit comments to Laura Crimaldi:
March 27, 6 p.m. 
Quinnipiac University 
York Hill Campus, Rocky Top Student Center 
305 Sherman Ave., Hamden, CT 
Newtown Spins off Debates on First and Second Amendment Rights
By James H. Smith 

   Newtown, Conn., is still studded with stone walls. Its giant signatory flagpole still stands in the middle of town hoisting the Stars and Stripes, still waving above the ancient and majestic maple trees, still lining Main Street. Newtown is inevitably labeled as bucolic, and it is.

   Smith, James Yet the pain is still palpable.

   Newtown is ground zero in our widening debate over why six adults and 20 first graders in their care are now dead. It is a conversation being held in the shops of the Sandy Hook neighborhood to the halls of the U.S. Congress and everywhere in between.

   Our schools failed these dead children, our police failed these dead children. American society failed them. The quick police response no doubt saved other Sandy Hook Elementary School students, but the police alone cannot solve this tragic societal ill. In fact the law enforcement community is divided, like we all are, over how to stop mad killers with big guns. Read more    

Reasons for Security Alert at Brattleboro, Vt., Schools Still Undisclosed
By Tom D'Errico
   BRATTLEBORO, Vt. - On the night of Jan. 27, a Sunday,  Brattleboro-area parents were thrown into a minor panic when the school district sent out an automated call alerting them to a vague threat and informing them that, come Monday morning, schools would be placed in a state of heightened security.
Tomm D'Errico
   Because there was little information offered on the call, many parents took to calling the local police department, as well as the Brattleboro Reformer's newsroom. Given it was a Sunday night, and just past our press deadline, there was really no further information to be found. But just how little information would be offered in the coming days was even more surprising. Read more.
Rhode Island AG Calls It 'Myopic' but Takes No Issue With Report on Weak Access Enforcement
By Steven Brown
PROVIDENCE - He considered it "myopic" and "one sided," but Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin apparently couldn't take issue with any of our facts analyzing that state office's record in enforcing the Access to Public Records Act (APRA).
   That law gives the AG the power to investigate open records law violations and to take legal action against violators. However, a report we recently issued found that between 1999 and June 2012, he and the state's two previous Attorneys General filed APRA lawsuits against public bodies on only six occasions, less than four percent of the time after they had determined that a violation of the law had been committed.
NEFAC's Suffolk Chapter Looks at "Citizens United" Effects on 2012 Elections  
By Rosanna Cavanagh
   BOSTON - Suffolk Law School's NEFAC chapter hosted a panel discussion as part of NEFAC's observance of Sunshine Week which shone a spotlight on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and its effects on the 2012 presidential election.
 cavanagh,rose   The panelists included Jeff Clements, author of "Corporations Are Not People," Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts, Gregory V. Sullivan, partner, Malloy & Sullivan of Hingham, and Scott Van Voorhis, Boston-based financial and investigative reporter.  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]).