The selectmen are redacting public information from government records that they have provided to me as the result of a Right to Know request I made for emails between town employees and the town’s IT vendor, Tom Albert of Computer Port, Inc, in North Conway.
In the attached email, the selectmen have redacted the name server for tuftonboro.org.
If you don’t know what a name server is, don’t worry about it. The short version is that when you type “tuftonboro.org” into the address bar of your browser and hit enter, the browser uses the name server to determine the IP address of the web site. If you don’t know what an IP address is, you can think of it as the website’s phone number. In this analogy, “tuftonboro.org” is your friend’s name, the name server is the phone book, and the IP address is the phone number.
The point is, the name server is public — it’s not confidential. There are many tools for looking up a website’s name servers, but to provide just one example you can look up the name servers for Tuftonboro.org right here. (Having two name servers is normal.) The name servers for tuftonboro.org are:
Again, this is not secret information. The name servers for this site, tuftonboro.net, are:
So why are the selectmen wasting your tax money redacting publicly available information?
The selectmen have spent about $20,000 over the past year attempting to make it harder for the public to know what they’re doing. They filed a lawsuit against Bob McWhirter and me, which they lost, because they wanted to charge us 25 cents per page to inspect government records, even though the law states clearly that “no fee shall be charged for the inspection or delivery, without copying, of governmental records, whether in paper, electronic, or other form.”
Having spent so much of your tax money on their lawsuit, they don’t want to admit that they were wrong, I believe. Thus, they do absurd things like redact Bob McWhirter’s telephone number and mailing address from emails that they provided to Bob McWhirter himself.
The selectmen paid their attorney, Richard Sager, $175 an hour to keep Bob’s email address, telephone number, and mailing address from Bob. One wonders, what they thought would be the consequences of informing Bob what his own phone number is. Perhaps they thought he would do something foolish, like give it out. They surely didn’t want to be responsible for that. People he had given his number to as a result of the town’s actions might then call him!