Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information announces open government award recipients

HARTFORD >> A police chief, a state senator, an FOI Commission employee and two journalists have won the annual open government awards from the nonprofit Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, which has been advocating for freedom of information for six decades.

Blogger and Digital First Media columnist Andy Thibault received the Stephen A. Collins Award for his dogged pursuit on virtually every FOI battlefront in the past year. Thibault was instrumental in ensuring that the clemency hearing of convicted murderer Bonnie Foreshaw proceeded in public, according to the CCFOI.

“He unearthed a 25-year-old letter from a public defender stating that she had not received a fair trial,” the CCFOI wrote in a release. “When she was released last November, one of her first questions was ‘Where’s Andy?’”

South Windsor Police Chief Matt Reed was presented the Bice Clemow Award for his goal to “put out as much information as possible” to the public about crime in his community.

State Sen. Edward Meyer received the Champion of Open Government Award for consistently voting for transparency in government and the people’s right to know.

“He was one of only two senators to vote against making secret crime scene photos and emergency phone calls after the Sandy Hook school shooting,” the CCFOI said in its statement.

The former federal prosecutor said, “The suppression of horrific crimes committed on public property and recorded by public officials is not consistent with a free and open society. The more we understand about our ugliness, the better chance we have to overcome that ugliness.”

Champion of Open Government awards also went to reporter Hugh McQuaid of the CTNewsjunkie for his “nuanced, straightforward, fair, insightful and alert” coverage on the governors task force on Victim Privacy and the People’s Right to Know, and the debates over the issue in the General Assembly; and to Thomas Hennick, public information officer of the FOI Commission.

“If a good measure of the FOIC’s practical success in opening up documents and meetings can be attributed to enlightenment and persuasion – and it can – then Tom Hennick is the chief enlightenment officer, the persuader-in-chief,” said Claude Albert of CCFOI in presenting the award.

CCFOI re-elected its officers for another year: retired newspaper editor James H. Smith, president; retired TV news director Dick Ahles, vice president; retired Danbury News-Times Editorial Page Editor Marry Connolly, secretary; WSHU General Manager George Lombardi, treasurer; retired Hartford Courant Managing Editor G. Claude Albert, legislative chairman.