CCFOI Meeting Minutes – June 15, 2016

Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes of Annual Meeting, June 15, 2016

The annual meeting of CCFOI was at Pond House Café, 1555 Asylum Ave., West Hartford.

The minutes of the May 18, 2016 meeting were accepted.

Treasurer’s report: George Lombardi reported a balance of $10,117.09.

Legislative report: John Bailey, CCFOI’s lobbyist, and Mary Schwind of the FOI Commission reviewed the legislative session. Paula Pearlman’s report on the session was distributed. The report is attached, updated after the June 20 special session.

Awards: Each year at its annual meeting, CCFOI honors journalists and non-journalists who have contributed to the cause of open government. The Bice Clemow award honors a non-journalist. The Stephen A. Collins award goes to a journalist. Champion of Open Government awards go to journalists and non-journalists.

Clemow award: Kendall F. Wiggin, the state librarian, was honored for his work to ensure public access to public records, specifically historical records. “We can’t carry out our mission without providing access to the records in our archives,” Wiggins said. “Without access, we haven’t preserved them.”

Collins award: Michael Savino, now a reporter at the Record-Journal in Meriden, was honored for work he did as a reporter for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

He spoke about his efforts to obtain standardized test results from the state Department of Education. The department has had a long practice of giving local school superintendents the test scores a week before they are released to the public. Savino said he appreciated the award because “sometimes you feel all alone” when fighting to get information.

Champion of Open Government awards: The winners were Matthew Warshauer, history professor at Central Connecticut State University; John Dankosky of WNPR and new executive editor of New England News Collaborative; and Dick Ahles, retiring vice president of CCFOI and former president of CCFOI.

Warshauer discussed his role in seeking disclosure of public records still in existence of Civil War soldiers who received mental health treatment for “soldier’s heart,” now generally called PTSD. Dankosky thanked the people he has hired over the years who have done the work that is so often praised. Ahles pledged to continue his long involvement with CCFOI. “There is a lot of work left to be done,” he said.

Honoring Jim Smith: In recognition of his five years as president of CCFOI, Smith was honored with an Outstanding Service Award. It recognized his leadership of  “the continuing fight for open and accountable government in Connecticut and throughout New England.”

Dan Klau, the incoming president, said “no one has been a better spokesman for FOI than Jim.” During Smith’s time as president, there were many challenges: the inclusion of the FOI Commission in the state Government Accountability Office, the response to the 2012 massacre in Newtown to reduce public access to crime scene information, the state Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn two decades of access to arrest records, and the UConn Foundation’s secrecy.

Elections: Those nominated were unanimously elected. They are: Dan Klau, president; Zach Janowski, vice president; George Lombardi, treasurer; Mary Connolly, secretary; Michele Jacklin and Jeff Daniels, legislative co-chairs.

Looking ahead: After a summer break, the next CCFOI meeting will be Sept. 21 at Wood-n-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.