Our executive director Carol Rose joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan for her monthly segment on Boston Public Radio. The trio applauded the state's new public records reform, which was signed into law last week by Governor Baker. Summarizing the discussion, the show's producer Amanda McGowan wrote:
A bill reforming existing public records laws in Massachusetts “goes a long way to restoring trust in government,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the Massachusetts ACLU.
"It's a huge victory," Rose said.
"The big fix really is to have an enforcement mechanism. Until this fix went into place, an official who received a public records request could just ignore it, and there was no punishment—and no reason not to ignore it,” she explained.
But Carol Rose said the establishment of an enforcement mechanism was a necessary step for future reforms, including chipping away at exemptions for branches of government.
"You can always make perfect the enemy of the vastly improved," she said.
Rose said the bill also made headway on the issue of recouping legal fees.
"We wanted mandatory attorney's fees, but with the legislative process we had to take into account the concerns of small cities and towns," she explained. "If attorney's fees aren't awarded, there have to be written reasons for it, and that's a basis for appeal down the road."
Rose, Braude, and Eagan went on to cover another legislative milestone, the transgender anti-discrimination bill's passage through the House, in addition to the debate over body-worn cameras in Boston and former ACLU client and heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.