CCFOI Meeting Minutes – Sept. 18, 2019

The meeting was at Wood-n-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford. Present: Mike Savino, Paula Pearlman, Chris Powell, Mitch Pearlman, Gary Gold, Zach Janowski, Mary Connolly, Liz Gemski, Michele Jacklin, Jeff Daniels, Matt Kauffman, Tom Scheffey. The minutes of the June 19, 2019 meeting were accepted. CCFOI did not meet in July and August. Partnership for Connecticut: There was discussion about the organization, established as a private, nonprofit collaboration between the state and Dalio Philanthropies to help students in struggling schools. Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, and his wife, Barbara, pledged $100 million over five years to be matched by $100 million in state funds over the same five years. The partnership set a goal of raising another $100 million from other donors. But the Dalios and Gov. Ned Lamont immediately ran into controversy when they sought legislative approval to exempt the partnership from state public disclosure and ethics rules. The legislature quickly gave its approval, then began to second-guess what it had done, thanks to pressure from FOI advocates. Any project involving public schools and public money should be operated with transparency. CCFOI will continue to press this issue with legislators. 2020 legislative agenda: There was discussion of what should be included on our agenda, but no decisions were made. There is still interest in the so-called hand-held scanner issue, allowing people to simply take a photo of a document without paying. It is of concern to town clerks because of a potential loss of revenue. The practice of allowing unions and state officials to circumvent the FOI Act with contract language also needs to be addressed. There are concerns about a new state law that allows juveniles charged with serious felonies to be tried as adults but in a closed courtroom. If the teen is convicted, the case would be unsealed. Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be Oct. 16 at noon at Wood-n-Tap.