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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Our own Rep. Garrity attempting to GUT Right to Know Law?

Article Submission: from the NH Insider

Why Not Remove The Name "Garrity" From The Legislature
And I thought Atkinson NH’s knucklehead part time Police Chief Phil Consentino, subject of endless lawsuits against that town, was the only problem child Atkinson had. (It must be something in the water – let’s not go there right now.)

Nope, State Representative Jim Garrity has popped up as a “presenter,” or as they call them in the State Legislature, sponsor, of a questionable piece of legislation aimed at, of all things, the Right to Know Law, RSA 91-A.

I say “presenter” instead of sponsor because a sponsor of a bill would seem have a reason for doing so. There is no reason whatsoever anyone would want to sponsor a bill such as Jim Garrity has done if not for the want of mischief, in this case future lawsuits by taxpayers aimed at acquiring public information.

Here is the meat behind Rep. Jim Garrity’s inspiring piece of legislation. He wants to remove the words “agency or authority” from the types of government bodies or subdivisions of the State from the law as it exists now.

Since this makes no sense it must have another purpose and from my desk it looks like trouble, all in the name of?

Pick a law, almost any law, and the purpose of that law will be laid out in the first few sentences. Below is a sample of some simple, basic statutory language regarding State Records and Archives, this bill would affect.

5:30 Duties of Director. – The director shall, with due regard for the functions of the agencies concerned, and subject to the approval of the secretary…
I. Establish standards, procedures, and techniques for effective management of state records.

RSA 5:33 Agency Heads. – The head of each agency shall:

The list of state laws affected by this is endless.

So what in the world is wrong with having the word Agency used to describe a political subdivision, which is what they are. Why not remove “political subdivision?”

I won’t even bother with Rep. Jim Garrity’s presenting this proposed bill to remove the word, “authority” from RSA 91-A as well because that makes no sense either.

But it must be the desire of some “agency” to have itself seem to be removed from the public’s right to know. That will take some ferreting out.

And isn’t this why we have the Right to Know Law in the first place? Not only is RSA 91-A the law in NH, we amended the state constitution almost thirty years ago just to include it.

Some elected officials hate that.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why and What is Atkinson's own Rep. Jim Garrity doing by trying to "Gut" the one big protection taxpayers / citizens have against bad government in NH. (Namely The Right To Know Law)

What ta "Hell Is He Thinking"? I thought we sent him to Concord to protect our rights, NOT DESTROY THEM!

If he is going to do this to us, imagine what else he is planning to do to us next?

His bill is foolishness. Suggest we all email him at:

jim.garrity@leg.state.nh.us,

and call him at:

603-362-8250

and insist he withdraw this bad bill HB 53 immediately AND SUPPORT HB 135 that strengthens the Right To Know Law instead.


We should also call our other Rep. Debra DeSimone 362-4314 and find out where she stands on this issue and how she will vote.

We have all seen disgusting events going on in this town, but this has to be at the top of the list of worst!

Atkinson citizens: Make these calls and tell them we don’t want him tampering with OUR RIGHTS! Watch after to see HOW THEY VOTE!

Anonymous said...

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the legislative body, LET'S "FERRET OUT" Atkinson's Representive the HORNORABLE (?) Mr. James Garrity to find out the REAL REASON he wants to "GUT" the RIGHT TO KNOW Law.

SOMETHING STINKS, but I do not believe it's the Ferret. (No matter what Sullivan, Garrity, Chief (part of the Atkinson Mafia) will try to convince you of)

Anonymous said...

After reading this blog for a while now and contributing every once and a while. I felt the need to express my feeling on the chief. I have lived in Atkinson for a few years never really having to deal with the chief. I have meet other officers in town and have no problems with them.
But I have to say with a situation a friend of mine encountered, We need a new chief of police one that is level headed and maybe listens to the residents of Atkinson. Not stepping over the line and sticking his nose where he has no business. Trying to bully people into doing things his way. This is 2009..not the 1940s. In my opinion this man feels he owns the Town of Atkinson and thinks he can control every citizen in it.

Anonymous said...

To: Anonymous said... January 12, 2009 5:02 PM

I agree, but you forgot to mention call often until they call you back with their answers.

Curt Springer said...

I wonder if people are taking things out of context. Here is the complete statement in the current law of what is a "public body" for purposes of RSA 91-A:

VI. "Public body'' means any of the following:
(a) The general court including executive sessions of committees; and including any advisory committee established by the general court.
(b) The executive council and the governor with the executive council; including any advisory committee established by the governor by executive order or by the executive council.
(c) Any board or commission of any state agency or authority, including the board of trustees of the university system of New Hampshire and any committee, advisory or otherwise, established by such entities.
(d) Any legislative body, governing body, board, commission, committee, agency, or authority of any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision, or any committee, subcommittee, or subordinate body thereof, or advisory committee thereto.
(e) Any corporation that has as its sole member the state of New Hampshire, any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, village district, or other political subdivision, and that is determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be a tax exempt organization pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

There are 5 paragraphs, (a)-(e). This bill looks like a slight tweak to (d), which deals with local bodies.

AFAIK, there is nothing in local government that is called an "authority." Authorities, like the Pease Development Authority (PDA) in NH, or the MBTA in Mass, are almost always part of state government.

I would be concerned of course if this would affect an actual authority like the PDA, but that would be covered as a state authority in (c).

So just from reading the text of paragraph (d) in the context of paragraph (a) - (e), I don't see any reason to think that this is anything of substance other than clarification of language. Of course I would be very interested to read what your rep has to say, directly or indirectly.

HERE is the text of HB135.

HB53 and HB135 are not at cross-purposes, so one could reasonably vote either or both.

I'm not sure it is a good idea to take all discretion from the court in the case of a small technical violation. A violation isn't limited to secret meetings. It could be something to do with advance posting requirements.

For example, suppose your selectmen hold a meeting to discipline or otherwise sanction your police chief. The meeting is announced on cable, publicized on this web site, everybody knows about it, your town hall is packed with citizens, the meeting is held totally in public. Just one problem. Either only one notice was posted in a public place, instead of two, as required, or perhaps the notices were posted 23 hours in advance instead of at least 24 hours in advance. The chief takes the town to court and asks them to invalidate the action of the selectmen.

Under the law as it stands, the court could rule that it was a minor violation and that the spirit of the law was observed, since obviously the meeting was well attended. Under the proposed HB135 the court would have no choice but to invalidate the selectmen's vote and they would have to do it all over again at a subsequent meeting.

MAcciard said...

Rep. Garrity,

If you wish to help the "people" and strengthen the Right to Know law, than pass an ammendment that postpones the $175.00 filing fee with the Court for getting the Court to review a Town's refusal to produce information. The Loser will pay the filing fee, AFTER the information is either provided, or the plaintiff loses.

That is fair.

Michael Torris said...

Some of us in Atkinson just lost our "Right to Know" for at least another year.

Unless someone wants to run around like a madman all day to meet the deadline for a citizen's petition...
(Due on Tuesday, Jan. 13)

What did we lose? Our selectman removed the section of the cable television article that was to fund web broadcasting equipment for ACTV-20. They dropped that section and the "up to $19,000" to fund it. Looks like at least another year without being able to access public meetings on line at our leisure. This was not going to be paid for with new tax dollars. The money was to come from the Cable Capital Reserve Fund that has over $330k in it. Why is there so much in there? This fund was first set up by the Cable Television Committee in 1994 to develop and equip a facility for Atkinson Community Television. The first deposit was only $21,000. This came from 1993 revenues paid by Harron franchise fees.(Now Comcast) In future years, until 2005, the Cable committee submitted a warrant article each year to capture the difference between franchise fees paid to the town and deposited into the general fund and the cost of running ACTV-20. Most years this was between $30k-$40k. It now is over $50k each year.
The last few years, due to our plan to use this fund to expand Town Hall and build studio space, the warrant request to fill this fund with more money has been withheld. (The general fund kept the $150k+ from the past few years and will get over $60k in 2009) The Town Hall warrant failed overwhelmingly, 1,111 voted against it last year. (Cable was paying for its own space but the town would still need to pay the other $350k for its portion of the new space)

Now the Cable Committee has come to realize we may never see a "studio" like was imagined in 1994. In 2009, a "virtual" studio is what is really needed in town. This warrant would have funded the launch of ACTV-20 programs on the internet, along with its own web page to run the bulletins. This proposal was to help Atkinson citizens who do not have cable but want to see the public meetings. Or anyone who wants to watch them when they are out of town or out of state.

With this vote, the only option now is for someone to spend the day mad rushing a petition article together to withdraw the $19,000 from the reserve fund and purchase this equipment. Otherwise, see you next year.

MAcciard said...

Hey Mike,

There is another option. You can put that language back in on town floor. And ask the selectmen why they removed it.

Anonymous said...

Good News Mike. Madmen and Madwomen representing five different committees in town did run around and get signatures for different committee Citizen petition warrant articles. This was done in snow and ice and freezing cold but with great success. But your committee's article was not on our sheet! Next year YOUR committee needs to CONNECT with the OTHER committees and go out with us all to get signatures.

Come to Town Deliberative Session in March, just as everyone else who has ever read this blog needs to do. COME AT 5PM TO 7PM as they always leave citizen articles to dinnertime when only normal people are exhausted and go home for dinner and only political hacks are left in the room and it turns into a type of perverted selectmen's meeting! Come and disrupt that slime ball strategy. There should be a second day that deals ONLY with Citizen Warrant Articles. You think it is an accident they put them on the agenda when you want to get home to be with your kids or feed your dog? COME ON DOWN! Feed the dog and kids and THEN COME ON DOWN. With 30 normal citizens we can clean up the town. DO YOU GET IT?

Our petty officials are in FOR A BIG SHOCK today. The citizens have acted and the sparks will fly. Go to Town Deliberative Session in March so our hard work produces fruit instead of letting them change the language. Just get out of your soft easy chair and come and make a big difference. If you show up and vote this town is going to be cleaned up in a hurry. Am I reaching you? It is your best interest at stake. Are you upset with the latest tax raise? You can ZERO OUT some budget items and make an impact. YOU CAN SEND A MESSAGE.

MAcciard said...

For the record, I was at that hearing of the NH house Judiciary committee, and Rep. Garrity presented that bill, as he stated in his post. He stated that, he was presenting it as a favor to the right to know committee, that he felt it was just a housekeeping issue, that is, clarifying language.

He did not advocate strongly for this bill. The only people I heard speak in favor of the bill were the Attorney General's Office, and the LGC, which was there licking it's collective wounds after being handed a decision yesterday forcing them to comply with the right to know law.

There were a number of citizens from all over there to speak against the bill.

I just wanted everyone to know that Rep. Garrity did exactly as he stated he would in his post.