Public Records Reform

The Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday released the Senate’s Public Records reform bill. It is a big step forward that has pleased advocates for reform. I will be supporting the bill — transparency has been an important theme in my work. One issue that I am interested in feedback on is attorneys fees. I would also really appreciate hearing any personal experiences you have had with this issue generally.

Mass. Medical Examiners Prolonging Agony

Families facing an unexplainable death of a loved one sign up for a prolonged agony if they ask for an autopsy. It will be an entire year, on Father’s Day, for my friends who still do not know why their 20-year-old son died. It is unconscionable for a civil service to delay providing a report that should be deliverable under 90 days according to the national standard set by the Association of Medical Examiners.

NEMLEC: Lawless Law Enforcement

“Law Enforcement Councils” exist in many states to coordinate police activities across a region. Nearby, we have the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) that includes police departments in 58 communities in Massachusetts. This article in the Bay State Examiner describes an ACLU lawsuit to obtain records of SWAT team activities, which NEMLEC refuses to supply.

Senate Adopts New Rules, Reflecting Transparency and Openness, for 2015-16 Session

This is the earliest the rules have been adopted by the Senate since they moved to a two year session in 1995. The new rules reflect the priorities of openness and transparency for Senate business that Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) promised in his inaugural Senate address on January 7th.

Pension Fund Transparency Update

Last week, the MBTA reached agreement with its largest union, Local 589, on a new collective bargaining agreement which includes commitments to increase transparency of the union’s pension fund. Concerns about the issue aren’t fully settled, but this is real progress and I commend the MBTA, the union’s leadership and the fund itself for these major steps towards transparency.