06/15/17 – By Dan Klau
The Connecticut General Assembly recently issued a Request for Proposals concerning the operation of CT-N — the Connecticut Television Network. As presently written, this RFP would dramatically restrict CT-N’s ability to cover Executive and Judicial Branch proceedings, which CT-N has covered for many years. Even more startling, the RFP would give the General Assembly extensive editorial control over the content of CT-N programming. [Read More]
Freedom of information has always been a fluid proposition, its execution shifting with court decisions, new laws and changing conditions and technology. After the General Assembly’s sessions this year, we perceive in the evolution of open information a big victory, a big whiff and a minor loss. The last bespeaks an undemocratic budget implementation practice that could presage more significant damage to government transparency in future sessions.
As we have noted, the Legislature laudably unraveled the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling that limited public access to police records. In so doing, legislators restored public accountability to police proceedings, thereby advancing the overall cause of freedom of information — or at least returning it to the level we had experienced before the ruling.
Legislators also struck out in their attempts to subject the UConn Foundation to public information law. The nonprofit fundraising arm of the state university enjoys exemption from the law’s requirements, to the disservice of UConn students in particular and Connecticut taxpayers on the whole.
The foundation’s justification [Read More]
By Chris Powell
While freedom of information prevailed with some big stuff during this year’s sessions of the General Assembly, legislators still snuck secrecy into bills here and there, and of course did it secretly as well.
At least two such incidents involved the budget “implementer” bill, which was passed in the legislature’s special session.
The “implementer” is supposed to do no more than implement decisions already made by budget legislation, whose provisions have faced public hearing and discussion. But the “implementer” often is used to enact policies that have received no scrutiny at all. Since legislators are given little time to review the “implementer” before a vote is called, unscrutinized provisions — in legislative jargon, “rats” — sometimes become law.
That was the case with an “implementer” provision to exempt the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority from the state Freedom of Information Act. Authority members said they didn’t want their communications with each other between meetings [Read More]
By Sarah Darer Littman
According to the CT General Assembly website, an implementer is a “bill that changes statutes to put into effect or ‘implement’ the provisions of the adopted state budget.”
That’s in theory. In practice, it’s when all sorts of “rats” get stuffed into a take-it-or-leave-it bill. It was through the 2010 implementer that Windham got stuck with special master Steven Adamowski, under whose tenure achievement didn’t improve. In 2014, Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, inserted a provision that said previously closed Flower Street in Hartford must “remain open to vehicular traffic for at least 20 hours per day.” The majority of his fellow legislators found out about that after they’d passed the bill.
The CT Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe-Thomas reported Tuesday that there might be similar action afoot on the charter school FOIA front this year.
It wouldn’t be surprising, given how much of a fight the charter proponents have put up on the transparency issue. In her testimony to the Education Committee opposing SB 1096 in March, Achievement First President Dacia Toll [Read More]