APRIL 2014

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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." 
First Amendment 
of U.S. Constitution


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Just Say No to Texting by State Employees in Maine

Something needs to change when state employees in Maine conduct public business using instant messages that cannot be archived or made available to the public as required by the state's freedom of access laws. Under Maine law, all electronically stored information, including e-mail and text messages, qualifies as a public record. Without a technological solution that would allow archiving and retrieval of text or instant messages, however, the very act of using an instant message amounts to a violation of law, in that it creates a public record that is not being preserved for public inspection. [More] 
MBTA Says it Has No Projection Docs 
for Late Night Service 

On March 28, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority launched its extended late night service pilot program. While the MBTA cites specific cost and labor figures for introducing late night service, officials say they have no documents to support them. In response to a records request for "all studies or reports regarding the logistical and fiscal feasibility of offering late night MBTA service," the MBTA answered that it had "no existing, responsive documents." [More] 
Mass. Bill Would Block Access to Police Reports and Logs Involving Domestic Abuse

In June 2012, the police chief of the city of Waltham, Thomas LaCroix, was arrested on charges of assaulting his wife at the couple's home in Maynard. He later resigned as chief after he was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 18 months probation. Under a bill passed by the Massachusetts House this week, the public might never have known about LaCroix's arrest or might only have learned about it many months later.  [More]

Mass. Orders Release of Records Detailing Investigation into Off-Duty Police Officer

When the Cape Cod Times hears of police misconduct, reporters routinely ask for records of the police department's internal investigation. In some cases, departments delay their release, or decline to do so all together. That was the case with the town of Falmouth, which refused on two occasions to release internal investigation records related to a police officer, Michael Rogers, whom we understood was the subject of disciplinary proceedings related to some off-duty activity that occurred in September 2013. [More]

Public Records Show Police Officer 
Involved in Accidents Prior to Fatal Crash

At about 5 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2012, a Westford police officer was racing to a domestic call on the other side of town down Oak Hill Road. Going about 50 in a 30 mph zone on the Westford, Mass. street, he had his lights flashing, but no siren sounding. At that moment, a civilian was driving his Toyota Tundra, about to cross the way. The driver's friend, 87-year-old Tom Courtney, was in the passenger seat and lived less than a minute's drive away. [More]

Secrecy at the MBTA Pension Fund

The MBTA Retirement Board recently voted to deny a request to turn over records relating to a controversial deal that cost the pension fund $25 million. The vote was tied 3-3 with directors loyal to Governor Deval Patrick voting in favor of making the records public, and union representatives voting against. An "honorary member" selected to break the tie, unfortunately, sided with the union representatives against disclosure. [More]

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