CCFOI Meeting Minutes – Dec. 17, 2014

Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, Dec. 17, 2014

The meeting was at Wood-N-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.

The minutes of the Nov. 19, 2014, meeting were accepted.

Present: Jim Smith, Chris VanDeHoef, Mary Connolly, Paula Pearlman, Dan Klau, Tom Scheffey, Chris Powell, Mike Savino, Zach  Janowski, Michele Jacklin, Ron Robillard, Gary Gold, Mitch Pearlman, Dick Ahles, George Lombardi.

Treasurer’s report: Lombardi said there is a balance of $12,972.03, down from $14,500 at the start of the fiscal year. Some dues payments have been received, but none from larger media organizations. Lombardi said CCFOI has to increase its revenue, but also needs to address the cost of the annual meeting. The annual meeting costs about $2,000 more than what is covered by the price of tickets.

Lobbying contract: A copy of the proposed agreement with TCORS Capitol Group was distributed. VanDeHoef is requesting an increase from $7,500 a year to $10,000 a year, pointing out this continues to be a discount from the market rate. It was unanimously agreed to approve the increase and new contract, which runs from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016.

Prior restraint case: Klau discussed the Connecticut Law Tribune case involving an order by Superior Court Judge Stephan Frazzini not to publish an article on a child protection dispute. Under pressure, the judge has vacated his ruling because, he said, the details of the case are now publicly known. An appeal of the original ruling is still pending before the Connecticut Supreme Court. Klau said he expects the Supreme Court will decide no later than next week whether to dismiss the appeal or go forward with it.

New FOI blog: Jodie Mozdzer Gil, former president of SPJ and a professor at Southern Connecticut State University, contacted Smith about starting a blog that will feature the stories of citizens trying to get information about government activities. Tom Hennick of FOIC is going to work with her.

Legislative agenda: Two items were discussed. Once again, CCFOI will seek legislation to allow public access to historical records, such as mental health records of Civil War veterans. State Librarian Kendall Wiggin and Matthew Warshauer, professor of history at Central Connecticut State University, will work with us. The second agenda item will be a legislative response to the Supreme Court decision against FOIC that current law does not require local and state police to release more than basic information on arrests.

FOI pledge: The pledge asking legislators to express support for the FOI Act before Election Day went out in late September, a bit late for many candidates. We will send it again, this time by email to legislative addresses.

Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be Jan. 21, 2015 at noon at Wood-N-Tap.