CCFOI Awards Luncheon Minutes – Sept. 14, 2021

The gathering took place at Pond House Café, West Hartford.

Legislative review: President Mike Savino outlined the work that remains to be done from the 2021 legislative session, including the need to update laws on handheld scanners and addressing the use of algorithms to make public policy decisions.

Treasurer’s report: Treasurer Kim Phillips reported a balance of $12,805.99.

Award presentations: 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: House Speaker Matthew Ritter and House Republican leader Vincent Candelora received the award, presented by Vice President Michele Jacklin. They were chosen for their strong support of the FOIA. Accepting the award, Candelora said he was pleased it was a bipartisan award. “We can’t sacrifice the need for the public to know what we’re doing in the COVID process,” Candelora said. Accepting the award, Ritter said in the months ahead two government transparency challenges will be redistricting and responding to public interest in participating in public meetings from home. “We have to find a way to modernize local government,” Ritter said.

Collins award: The Hartford Courant received the award for its work to challenge the constitutionality of the Connecticut Juvenile Transfer Act, aimed at shielding courtroom proceedings and judicial records from the public in juvenile felony cases transferred to adult criminal court. It was presented by Tom Scheffey, former president of the CCFOI. Andrew Julien, publisher of the Courant, accepted the award. “Bad things happen,” he said, when courtrooms are closed.

Champion of Open Government: Three were honored: William Fish Jr., of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government and the attorney who filed the Courant lawsuit; Katie Townsend, legal director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, for her leadership in filing the lawsuit; and Maureen Croteau, who recently retired as head of the University of Connecticut Journalism Department and as a professor. The awards were presented by Mitch Pearlman, Scheffey and Savino.

Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be Oct. 20, at noon, via Zoom.