CCFOI Meeting Minutes – March 18, 2020

The meeting was by teleconference.

Present: Mike Savino, George Lombardi, Steve Nevas, Matt Kauffman, Chris Powell, Michele Jacklin, Mitch Pearlman, Jeff Daniels, Liz Gemski, Mary Connolly, Paula Pearlman, Tom Scheffey.

President’s report: Savino reported on the executive order issued by Governor Lamont that suspended in-person open meeting requirements during the COVID-19 emergency. The executive order followed the guidelines of the FOI Act. Public agencies are allowed to meet and take legal actions without permitting in-person access to meetings and conduct the meetings remotely by conference call and other technology. The notice and agenda must be posted, with information on how the public can access the meeting. The meeting must be recorded and posted. Materials relevant to the meeting agenda must be posted before the meeting.

Paula Pearlman of the FOI Commission said commission meetings have been postponed for the next two weeks and its building is closed. The commission will have to determine how to conduct its business during the emergency.

Legislative report: Gemski, our lobbyist from Murtha Cullina, reported the COVID-19 emergency is setting the schedule for the legislature. The buildings are closed until March 30. She anticipates the legislature to combine the budget and a few other initiatives into a few bills. There continues to be discussion of the Dalio public/private partnership on schools, given exemptions from the FOI Act. There are now other suggestions that initiatives be exempted from public disclosure under FOI, bringing more questions about the problems created by the Dalio exemption.

Treasurer’s report: Lombardi reported a balance of $4,913.45. There was a discussion about the possible impact of the COVID-19 emergency on our annual meeting. We have reserved June 17 to have our annual meeting at the Pond House Café in West Hartford and made a $390 deposit to hold the date. If the state emergency ban on large gatherings is still in place in June, CCFOI and Pond House would not be able to have the event and the deposit would be returned or credited for a future date.

Annual FOI Conference: The May 1 meeting is postponed and not yet reset.

SPJ Black Hole Award: The Society of Professional Journalists announced today that the Connecticut State Police won the 2020 Black Hole Award, for its routine violations of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act. As reported in January, the state police violated the FOIA 29 times since 2010 and was the subject of 60 complaints.

Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be April 15 at noon.