Bill Asks Local Officials To Be Both Seen and Heard – CT News Junkie

By Christine Stuart

Similar to what lawmakers have been trying to practice this session, some lawmakers want local boards and commission members to show their faces when talking and voting remotely.

The bill, which passed the Planning & Development Committee, last week would require boards of selectmen, city councils, boards of representatives, local and regional boards of education, zoning commissions and other local bodies to show their faces on Zoom when talking and voting. (Read More)

House approves bill creating panel to study mandatory public comment periods – The Day, New London

By Brian Hallenbeck

May 5—Connecticut’s House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill this week that would establish a task force to study requiring public comment periods at meetings of all public agencies.

The bill will move to the Senate for consideration.

The measure originated in response to a policy in effect in Groton, where public comment is allowed during monthly Town Council meetings but not at twice-a-month meetings at which the council convenes as Committee of the Whole. (Read More)

Bridgeport’s attempt to comply with transparency law may not be legal, experts say – Connecticut Post

By Brian Lockhart, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, and Joshua Eaton

BRIDGEPORT — In an effort to comply with a state transparency law it has long flouted, Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration is taking a controversial approach to reduce its massive backlog of pending requests for public records, raising concerns among state officials and First Amendment advocates.
As it wades through nearly 3,000 unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Bridgeport’s law department has sent notices asking requestors who have been waiting at least six months for a response to let the department know if they still want the documents.
The notices say that if the law department does not hear back within 30 days, it will cancel the request, closing it out without providing the records sought. (Read More)

Michele Jacklin: Nix these new restraints on Connecticut’s FOI Act – Connecticut Mirror

By Michele Jacklin

The silence has been deafening. Curiously so. As state lawmakers continue to hack away at Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act, the response from members of the public and the news media has been confounding passivity.
The curtain is threatening to come down on the state’s groundbreaking law, enacted in 1975, which opened up the inner workings of government — state and municipal — for all to see. The state’s FOIA became the model upon which other states and nations promoted public access and government transparency.
But now Connecticut’s law is in grave danger. Where once there were five explicit exemptions to the FOIA there are now 28 and counting. At least a half-dozen anti-FOIA bills have been approved by legislative committees and are due to be voted upon by the House and the Senate. (Read More)

David Collins: New London to fight FOI Commission’s order to release police body cam video – The Day, New London

By David Collins

At about the same time New London began to dig in its heels over my body cam footage request, Stonington announced it had assigned a staff member to manage and comply with body cam video requests, with no labor charges.
There is a bill pending in the General Assembly, supported by the state police chiefs association, but opposed by the state FOI Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union, that would allow police departments to charge some processing fees. (Read More)

For a new Connecticut reporter, public records seem within reach – Connecticut Public Radio

By Katie Seltzer

I was recently asked if I had ever filed a Freedom of Information appeal. Sure, I said. Many times.

What I meant was that I had filed a Freedom of Information records request and had been denied, and then I objected to that denial. The public information officer might say something like “the records you have requested are exempt from public disclosure based on this statute.” And then I would respond and say something like “I disagree with your interpretation of how that exemption is applied. So do the courts; see this case for further information about why I’m right and you must give me access to those public records.” I’m more polite in my actual appeals, of course, but what’s important is that I’ve filed appeals with agencies directly. Sometimes it works, but often it doesn’t, and then the only recourse is to sue, which can be costly and time-consuming. (Read More)

Bethel developers win Freedom of Information case against town over denial of unedited meeting video – Danbury News Times

By Kendra Baker

BETHEL — The Freedom of Information Commission has found the town in violation of public records laws over its refusal to provide public access to unedited video from a meeting from last year.

The February ruling by the state FOI Commission stemmed from a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on March 8, 2022, during which a microphone was left on during a recess and picked up Town Planner Beth Cavagna making what the FOI Commission described as “negative comments” about Bethel resident and developer Tim Draper. Cavagna and Town Counsel Martin Lawlor declined to comment to Hearst Connecticut Media. (Read More)

Appellate Court: Yale Police Not Required to Turn Over Recordings of ‘Uncorroborated Allegations of a Crime’ –

By Allison Dunn

The Connecticut Appellate Court upheld an administrative appeal that concluded the Yale University Police Department properly denied a student’s request to access certain body camera recordings created when officers were responding to “an uncorroborated allegation of a crime.” (Read More)

Town sets open meeting training, not revealed to public – Westport Journal

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The Board of Selectwomen and the Town Attorney’s Office will hold Freedom of Information Act training for town staff, board and commission members Thursday.

The sessions, at 3 and 7 p.m., in the Town Hall auditorium, weren’t publicly noticed or listed on the town’s calendar. (Read More)

Committee Approves Bill With Steep Penalties for FOI Violations – CT News Junkie

By Staff Report

Lawmakers advanced five bills Friday out of committee revising the state’s Freedom of Information Act, including one that seeks to improve enforcement by increasing the maximum fine allowed for denial of public records requests from $1,000 to $10,000. (Read More)