03/13/18 – The Connecticut Foundation for Open Government has released a policy paper calling for elected officials and the public to consider the connection between proprietary computer algorithms owned or used by government and the public’s right to know what its government is doing.
A lawyer for the parents of a UConn student struck and killed by a university fire vehicle in October argued Monday against release of a video showing the incident, saying its publication would cause overwhelming grief and severe emotional anguish for her family. [Read More]
On Dec. 8, recently retired Hartford police officer Sean Spell was arrested and charged with excessive force for his actions last summer. On June 4, police dashboard cameras recorded Spell kicking Emilio Diaz in the head as Diaz lay prone and handcuffed after a high-speed chase. Diaz was already injured when this occurred; Spell himself claimed he kicked Diaz to stop him from spitting blood.Read More
As his budget office was berating the state Freedom of Information Commission over trivia — wanting to maintain its subscription to a law review — Governor Malloy went to Stratford to announce his plan to give Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. $220 million just for staying in Connecticut for 16 more years, about $14 million per year. [Read More]
The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission ordered on Sept. 16 that the members of the Charter Revision Commission appear at a hearing to address the claim by Roger Williams that they have violated the law by not releasing some information related to their work on behalf of the Town. [Read More]
“He’s definitely looking to bash us in this column.”
That’s what Maura Downes, the new public information officer for the state Department of Public Health, said in an email July 13 to the governor’s office about Bob Horton, a columnist for the Greenwich Time newspaper who was asking questions about lead found in the soil outside a local middle school. [Read More]
Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes recently informed the heads of the state’s three main watchdog agencies that OPM no longer feels bound by a 2004 law that limits the governor’s authority to cut the budgets of those agencies beyond what the General Assembly has appropriated. The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information strongly disagrees with Secretary Barnes’s position, both as a matter of public policy and as a matter of law.
The General Assembly law passed the 2004 law limiting the governor’s recessionary authority in the wake of then-Governor John Rowland’s politically-motivated budget cuts to the watchdog agencies—the Freedom of Information Commission, Office of State Ethics and the State Election and Enforcement Commission. Notably, the 2004 law does not insulate the watchdog agencies from budget cuts. Indeed, they have felt the severe pain of the budget ax this year. But the law does protect them from a governor’s unilateral decision to cut their budgets. Thus, the 2004 law reflected the General Assembly’s appreciation of the importance of the watchdog agencies and the need to protect their status as independent agencies.
Secretary Barnes apparently believes that legislation passed during the most recent legislative session effectively repealed the 2004 law. The Secretary is mistaken. Nothing the General Assembly did last session expressly or implicitly repealed the 2004 law. The watchdog agencies remain subject to the legislature’s budget-cutting authority, but not the governor’s.
We respectfully urge Secretary Barnes to reconsider his mistaken position and to release to the watchdog agencies all funds the General Assembly allocated to them for the current fiscal year. We hope that members of the General Assembly will join CCFOI in rejecting Secretary Barnes’ interpretation of their 2016 budget bill.
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CCFOI has been serving the public since 1955. Daniel J. Klau, president; Zachary Janowski, vice president; Mary Connolly, secretary; George Lombardi, treasurer.
Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information Working for open government since 1955 Press Release June 15, 2016 Contact: James H. Smith, email@example.com, 203-915-9428
HARTFORD – The state librarian, a college professor, an NPR editor, a reporter and a retired TV news executive were honored Wednesday for their tireless efforts to keep government records and proceedings open to the public.
The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information bestowed its Bice Clemow Award on State Librarian Kendall Wiggin, and the Stephen J. Collins Award on Meriden Record-Journal reporter Mike Savino. Champion of Open Government Awards were presented to CCSU history Professor Matt Warshauer, NPR New England Executive Editor John Dankosky, and former Channel 3 News Director Richard Ahles.
Wiggin and Warshauer were recognized for their efforts to make public historical medical records of civil war soldiers suffering from “soldiers heart,” today known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both have been active in opening the records to the public ever since mental health advocates five years ago passed legislation closing access to those and other historical records. The measure was buried as the 37th section in a 90-section funding bill and passed unbeknownst to legislators voting on it in the last hours of the legislative session.
“The fight to open the records has gone on longer than the Civil War,” said Warshauer, who pledge to come back with a bill again next year. Wiggin stressed “the importance these records play in understanding our history.”
Savino’s award is for his coverage of open government issues while at the Journal Inquirer of Manchester. He has since moved to the Record-Journal, but wherever he plies his trade, it is with a free press “for the people,” he said.
Dankosky, recently promoted from WNPR to the New England-wide editorship, said he shares his award with colleagues Katie Talarski, Jeff Cohen, Colin McEnroe and David DesRoches at WNPR.
Ahles, vice president and former president of CCFOI was recognized for his long service to the group and his exemplary television journalism career. What is most important to him, said the Emmy-award winning journalist, is the friends he has made over the years at work and at the FOI council.
James H. Smith was presented an “Outstanding Service Award” for his five years as CCFOI president.
New officers were elected for the coming year. Dan Klau, an attorney with McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Hartford, was named president; Zach Janowski, director of external affairs at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy in Hartford, was named vice president. Jeffrey Daniels of Jeffrey Daniels Consulting of West Hartford and a former aide to Gov. Ella Grasso; and Michele Jacklin, a former Hartford Courant columnist, were named co-legislative chairs. Mary Connolly, retired editorial page editor of the News-Times in Danbury, and George Lombardi, general manager of WSHU radio in Fairfield, remained as secretary and treasurer respectively.
Controversy is mounting over whether the state will require teachers to be evaluated and graded based partly on student test scores, but under pressure from the Freedom of Information Commission, the state is poised to begin releasing some evaluation data to the public. [Read More]