We publish, in its entirety, this article published about our show’s Humble Host by Kimberly Morin, author of The Manchester Political Buzz on Examiner.com and anchor of the Politically Buzzed segment on this radio show. ~Publis
On Saturday Paul Feely of the Union Leader wrote about Manchester Representative Pat Long’s (D) push to increase the costs of right-to-know requests in the legislature. In HB 646 Long seeks to charge people an upfront fee to people who put in 91-A requests. The Judiciary Committee in the House recommends the bill “ought to pass” by a vote of 14-4 and will be voted on this week. What this bill does is potentially impede the public from gaining access to information they already own.
As taxpayers, not only do Granite Staters already pay for the information that is being processed but they have a right to know what every single government body is doing and should not be charged for it. The excuses used by Long and proponents is pathetic. Their main excuse is there are people who abuse the system by putting in right-to-know requests then not bothering to review possibly hundreds of pages of documents.
Rich Girard of Girard at Large testified against other bills like this recently and has been fighting for the right to know for years. He often talks about right-to-know issues on his radio show and has helped others learn how to file them as well.
Long’s egregious bill will be voted on by the House this week. Girard recently sent a letter to the House Committee on why he is against it. From his letter:
If cases of abuse were really running rampant, we’d hear more than just the anecdotal evidence of some spectacular infraction. The fact is, nobody has quantified the number, seriousness or “cost” of the infractions. The other fact is, the government entities that have to be asked for public information are the ones who create the information and file it. How else are we to obtain but to ask? Frankly, it’s their job to provide the information and, as a taxpayer, I’ve already paid for that job to be done.
During one of the bills I witnessed before your committee, the sponsor said the number of Right to Know Requests in his town had gone down significantly since the town started putting the information on the its Web site. Perhaps these abuses would be reduced if more communities put technology to use instead of making the process difficult and expensive as the Salem School District, the city of Manchester, the Timberlane Regional School District and many others are doing.
Girard has filed numerous right-to-know requests over the years and reported the results on his program. He often has Harriet Cady call into the show who is the Queen of right-to-know in New Hampshire. Girard will continue his fight to keep government accountable and transparent and you’ll hear about it on the air often with his signature “Oh My Head!” exclamation.