CCFOI Meeting Minutes – June 26, 2018

Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes of Annual Meeting, June 26, 2018

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

The minutes of the May 16, 2018 meeting were accepted.

Treasurer’s report: There is a balance of $3,300.

Legislative report: John Bailey of TCORS Capitol Group and Paula Pearlman of the Freedom of Information Commission discussed the 2018 legislative session. Pearlman’s report on the 2018 legislative session is attached.

The Secretary of the State’s office presented one of the most problematic legislative proposals in 2018. The stated purpose of the proposal was to protect voter privacy and identity, but the proposal would have severely impacted the public’s ability to obtain voter information, monitor voter fraud and evaluate the performance of election officials. Fortunately, the proposal failed to win legislative support.

Awards: Each year, CCFOI honors journalists and non-journalists for their contributions to the cause of open government. The Bice Clemow award goes to a non-journalist, the Stephen A. Collins award goes to a journalist, and the Champion of Open Government award goes to journalists and non-journalists.

Clemow award: Chase Rogers, the recently retired chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, was the 2018 winner. As chief justice, she inherited a system that had been badly tarnished by secrecy. As she said, “One goal was to increase public confidence in the judicial system.” She did that, opening courtrooms to cameras and making court procedures more understandable to the public.

Collins award: Matthew Kauffman, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, was the 2018 winner. Kaufman said he believes in the “radical notion” that the public has a right to know public business. He said there are many FOI battles ahead, such as the use of state contract negotiations to undermine public access to personnel records. This problem has been highlighted by a scandal at Central Connecticut State University involving a professor accused of sexual misconduct.

Champion of Open Government award: Steve Armstrong of the state Department of Education was the 2018 winner. His specialty is social studies education and he has encouraged schools to participate in the First Amendment program sponsored by the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government. Armstrong said the nation’s divided political environment makes it difficult for teachers to teach civics. He said some school systems even told teachers in 2016 to avoid discussing the election in social studies classes to avoid controversy.

Outstanding Service Award: Dan Klau was the winner of this special award to recognize his long service to the cause of open government. Klau resigned as president of CCFOI after his nomination to become a Superior Court judge. He previously was president of CFOG.

Elections: Mike Savino was elected president. Re-elected were Vice President Zack Janowski, Treasurer George Lombardi, Secretary Mary Connolly, and legislative co-chairs Michele Jacklin and Jeff Daniels.

Looking ahead: After a summer break, the next CCFOI meeting will be Sept. 19 at Wood-n-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.