NHMA lawyer: 'Paper-only' RTK mandate was result of 'miscommunication'

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An uncomfortable Natch Greyes looks away as Judiciary Chair Bob Lynn recounts Rochester Voice editor Harrison Thorp's testimony of Jan. 17 during which he said he'd been refused RTK docs from the Rochester because he wasn't a citizen of NH (NH House s

CONCORD - A representative of the New Hampshire Municipal Association characterized an October training session in New Durham that instructed town personnel to only allow paper retrieval of Right to Know documents as "miscommunication."
The comment by NHMA lawyer Natch Greyes came Wednesday during House Judiciary Committee testimony about a digital state archival system for Right to Know documents.
During Greyes testimony, Rep. Marjorie Smith asked him how the digital archive could mesh with a "paper-only" Right to Know policy that was brought to light by New Durham Rep David Bickford in January.
Bickford sent The Rochester Voice a copy of a notice that was posted at the New Durham Town Hall on Oct. 30.
It reads:
RSA 91A - Changes to Document Delivery
Posted on: October 30, 2023 - 9:24am
Based on the advice of the New Hampshire Municipal Association legal counsel the Town of New Durham will no longer provide electronic copies of documents requested under provisions of NH RSA 91A. Document may be reviewed at the Town Hall once the request has been completed. Copies can be made and per page fees will be charged according to the Town's fee schedule.
"Unfortunately there was some miscommunication during one of our trainings - that I prefer not to talk about - that has since been corrected," Greyes told the committee.
Smith than pressed Greyes on the importance of digital delivery of Right To Know documents in that we are living in a digital age.
"It appears that is the direction of this type of records access," Greyes agreed.
Meanwhile, it appears the same paper-only fixation sprouted up in Rochester, too, when in December Strafford 1 Rep Cliff Newton was forced to spend nearly $100 for hundreds of pages that had been in digital form but were converted to paper.
Both Rochester Attorney Terence O'Rourke and NHMA Executive Director Margaret Byrnes were unavailable for comment, but Bickford advised the association to come clean,
"That miscommunication reached far beyond one training," Bickford railed today. "For the sake of transparency they should issue an apology. Since they don't want to talk about it that tells us a lot about how much they respect transparency."

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