State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport) has received the first ever Valley Patriot 1st Amendment Award at the newspaper’s tenth anniversary BASH last month.
The 1st Amendment award is given to individuals who show with their actions that they value the 1st Amendment to the Constitution and are willing to fight for it.
Winners of this award have made a significant difference in holding public officials accountable, fought for transparency in government and/or gone above and beyond the call of duty to defend and protect our right of free speech, a free press, freedom of religion and/or being a whistle-blower.
They are or have taken actions, not just speeches to make sure the public is more informed about what their government leaders and representatives are up to.
Without individuals like this on the front lines in the war against free speech and a free press our freedoms would be lost.
Senator Ives has been a strong voice for the 1st amendment and submitted language in House Bill 2846, the Public Records Reform Bill, which was voted with a favorable recommendation out of a joint Senate and House Committee. The bill will add penalties to MGL ch. 66, fining public officials $100 a day for every day they violate the ten day time period to turn over public records. The bill will also allow members of the public to recover attorney fees if they are forced to seek court remedy to obtain public documents from state and municipal entities.
Ives worked with Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan to change the law after the (then) Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua refused to turn over public records concerning how much money the city was spending with a local law firm.
Also winning a Valley Patriot 1st Amendment Award was Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
Bump’s office released an audit of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (the state’s welfare agency).
Among other things, Bump’s audit found 1,164 dead people receiving welfare benefits, and 30,000 blank EBT cards (welfare cash cards) completely unaccounted for.
Despite taking grief from her party and in particular Governor Deval Patrick over the public expose of fraud on his watch, Bump did not relent.
For standing up to her party and speaking out about the corruption in the state’s welfare system, Bump was chosen by The Valley Patriot for our second 1st Amendment Award.