Join VTDigger for a panel discussion with journalists, experts and state representatives about Vermont’s right to know laws.
These laws are designed to give taxpayers access to information about state and local government. But too often, journalists have to sue in order to obtain information that should be freely available to the public.
The Center for Public Integrity has given Vermont an “F” for public access to information. While the federal Freedom of Information Act has only nine exemptions, there are 260-280 exemptions in the Vermont Public Records Act. The actual number of exemptions to Vermont’s public records law is unknown, but the ACLU of Vermont has estimated that there are upwards of 500 more exemptions buried in state agency statutes.
When government hides, people suffer. The government has withheld records for 18 months regarding a jail superintendent’s abuses. That secrecy allowed systemic misconduct to continue unabated for more than a year.
More than 550 local vendors and contractors were out $12M during the state coverup of the fraud at Jay Peak. Had the state released records in 2014 about the extent of the financial improprieties at the resort, companies could have protected themselves from bankruptcies and layoffs.
At VTDigger’s next Fast Forward event, “Why isn’t the state an open book?” a panel of journalists, government officials and experts will debate a new Vermont Supreme Court ruling that reaffirmed the public has a right to “inspect” documents for free and can only be charged when a “copy” is requested.
What: “Why isn’t the state an open book?”
When: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tues., Feb. 18th
Where: The Montpelier Room, Capitol Plaza, Montpelier
Please let us know you’re coming here. Submit a question below.
Featured speaker Peter Teachout of Vermont Law School will give an update on Vermont’s current public records and exemptions.
Panelists include Rebecca Kelley, communications director, Office of Governor Phil Scott; Jim Condos, VT Office of the Secretary of State; Charity Clark, chief of staff, Office of Vermont Attorney General; Jay Diaz, an attorney with the ACLU of Vermont.
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to let us know you’re coming.
If you have trouble with the RSVP, please contact [email protected]
“Why isn’t the state an open book” is the second in VTDigger’s Fast Forward series of free, public events centered on proposed legislation and critical issues facing the state of Vermont. The next event, “Should Vermont ban vaping?” takes place at 6:30 p.m., Tues., March 24 at Burlington High School.
You can submit a question for the panelists here:
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