CCFOI 60th Anniversary Luncheon Award Winners and Officers

June 17, 2015
For immediate release
Contact: James H. Smith

At its 60th anniversary luncheon Wednesday, the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information recognized a state legislator, a state commissioner, and five journalists with annual awards for their “outstanding work” in keeping government open to the public.

Two of the awards are named for FOI pioneers, Stephen A. Collins, a founding member of CCFOI who was a reporter and editor at the News-Times of Danbury for 52 years; and Bice Clemow, who as editor of the West Hartford News helped draft the law that created Connecticut’s unique-in-the-nation FOI Commission 40 years ago.

The Clemow Award was presented to FOI Commission Chairman Owen Egan who accepted it with the thought that access to government information “is a basic and fundamental right.”

The Collins Award was shared by Hartford Courant Opinion Page Editor Carolyn Lumsden, who thanked her staff for making the newspaper’s stances on transparency lucid and forceful; and Editor-in-Chief Christine Stuart who wondered if the work of her Web news and opinion site was making a difference when she was informed of the award and a confirmation that her work is valued.

The annual Champion of Open Government Awards are given in recognition of “extraordinary service to the people of the state of Connecticut in preserving, defending and enhancing access to government information essential to a healthy and vibrant democracy.”

Winning the award were:

• State Rep. Ed Jutila, D- East Lyme, for his efforts in ushering a compromise bilthrough the legislature that assures that enough information about arrests is public so that citizens can judge the actions of both law enforcement personnel and the accused.
• Paul Bass, editor and founder of the online newspaper the New Haven Independent.
• Former New York Times reporter Marcia Chambers, who is senior research scholar in law and journalist in residence at Yale Law School and editor of the online newspaper Branford Eagle.
• Dana Whalen, longtime news director of WTIC radio and past CCFOI president.

Elected officers of CCFOI at the annual luncheon of the nonprofit group at the Hartford Club are: President, retired newspaper editor James H. Smith; Vice President, retired television news director Dick Ahles; Secretary, retired editorial page editor Mary Connolly; Treasurer, WSHU General Manager George Lombardi; Legislative Chair, Hartford attorney Dan Klau.

CCFOI, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1955. Its first officers were Carter H. White of the Meriden Record and Journal, chairman; H.M. Peterson of the New Britain Herald, vice chairman; and Charles Bell of radio station WHAY, New Britain and WNHC, New Haven, secretary-treasurer. Directors were William J. Foote ofThe Hartford Courant, J. Edward Decourcy of the Milford Citizen; J. Maxim Ryder of radio station WBRY, Waterbury and Richard Harris of the East Haven News.