Andrea Engleman 1940-2019
The leading expert on Nevada’s open meeting and open records laws died on June 12.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in both California and D.C., Andrea Engleman eventually took her first journalism job in the nation’s capital at WTOP, now WUSA. Returning to the West, she settled in Carson City.
She worked in journalism for Reuters, KOLO News and a political newsletter. From 1984-1987, she served as an agency chief in Gov. Richard Bryan’s administration and later became the spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office. Later in her career, she was a commentator on Nevada Newsmakers. She recently chaired the Carson City Utility Finance Oversight Committee.
In 1983, she became manager of the Nevada Press Association office, beginning her immersion in public access issues. She departed the association for a time but came back and expanded the job into an executive director’s post.
She learned the ins and outs of press law intimately, sometimes coaching lawyers on the issues and jumping into frays that did not initially seem like open government disputes but which were later shown to engage public access. Assertive and sometimes abrasive, she seldom conceded anything if the public’s access was involved.
She went over legislation with a fine toothed comb, often spotting problems lawmakers had to fix. In an article for the RN&R in 2005, she wrote of one measure, “There’s also a more basic sentence structure problem with the new law—the phrase ‘knowing such report to be false’ appears, but because of the tortured 57-word sentence in which it is located, it refers to the police instead of a complainant.”
“Ande had a unique ability to take complex subjects and make them understandable to the general public,” said her colleague Sam Shad. “That was quite a gift.”
In learning she was dying in April, Engleman told a friend in an email, “Have a few months after I start chemo. Hope someone will look out for open government because the Dems are closing it all down.”
She warned against 2019 legislation drafted by the state Open Meeting Law Task Force.
In her last weeks, she underwent some chemotherapy, but only, she said, to buy herself a little time to put her affairs in order.
“Thank goodness it’s not dementia! I want a quality of life and that’s my choice :-) Can’t keep food down so am getting weaker and weaker. Chemo is just [to] ensure I have a month to get things wrapped up. :-).”