NEFAC open government news for July 2013

From New England First Amendment Coalition:  The NEFAC Report — New England's monthly right-to-know dispatch.

This month:

Electronic Chatter Among Officials at Public Meetings Raises Issues of Transparency:  

NASHUA, N.H. – When officials in Nashua came up with an idea to equip the city's elected leaders with electronic tablets at public meetings to save costs on paper copies of documents, it seemed like a decent idea.

Except for one thing — keeping track of their electronic communication during public meetings. 

Chafee Signs Legislation Shielding RI School Safety Plans from Public View:

PROVIDENCE – Last year, after a ten-year struggle by open government groups to get the law updated, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted some important reforms to the state's Access to Public Records Act (APRA). Regrettably, this year the legislature appeared to show buyer's remorse, passing bills that will keep Rhode Islanders in the dark on important issues.

A Year Later, Exemptions Chipping Away at RI Open Records Law:

PROVIDENCE –  A year ago Rhode Island open government advocates were celebrating a huge milestone. We had won the first large scale reform of our open records law, the Access to Public Records Act since the late 1990s.  And while we didn't get everything we wanted in the bill, we did get into the law a balancing test for the first time.

A year later things aren't so sunny for APRA. 

Deadline for Applications to the 2013 NEFAC Institute is Aug. 20:

Applications for 25 fellowships at the third annual NEFAC Institute, to be held in Dedham, Mass., from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, are due o

n Aug. 20.

The fellows will be selected from applicants representing print, broadcast and online news organizations in the six-state region. The 2013 class will be announced the first week of September.

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New England First Amendment Coalition is a member of NFOIC. –eds.