Monday, March 3, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014
New Haven city clerk issues, retracts order squashing document release
New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN >> In his first full week on the job, City Clerk Michael Smart issued several memos, originally prohibiting his staff from releasing public documents without his approval, and, by the fourth memo, reversing that and clarifying that documents would be released as normal, but that he would be the only voice of the office.
In a memo dated Thursday, Smart wrote, “Press/Media inquiry request for interviews, documents etc., but not limited to inquiries from other individuals /representatives of any entity are to be directed to the City Town Clerk, who will give office staff a directive on how to proceed.”
In the memo, he added he will “always be accessible” and if he isn’t “directly” accessible, he can be reached on his cellphone or by email.
Read the full story here.
Connecticut FOI Commission, law enforcement at odds over access to info
New Haven Register
HARTFORD >> An attorney representing the state’s Freedom of Information Commission told state Supreme Court justices Thursday that giving law enforcement officials sole discretion on what information to release from arrest reports would be a bad idea and a radical departure from current practices.
Victor Perpetua said the commission has served an effective role over the past 35 years in balancing the public’s need to know against information that needs to be withheld in order to ensure the effective operation of the judicial system. Perpetua made his arguments before the state high court in a case that focuses on whether police can withhold arrest reports from the public and, while prosecutions are pending, simply issue press releases instead.
Read more in the New Haven Register here.
Check out coverage in other Connecticut media outlets on the Supreme Court hearing too!
In the Valley Independent Sentinel here.
In the New London Day here.
In the Waterbury Republican American here.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Court: Medical board violated FOI law
Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 2, 2013
AP explains why it wants Sandy Hook 911 calls
Says William J. Cole, AP's New England bureau chief: "It’s not about a sensational media preying on innocents and exploiting their agony. It’s about reporters getting access to recordings that could shed light on the law enforcement response to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history."
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Newtown families keep pushing for privacy at FOI hearing
Friday, October 18, 2013
PRESS RELEASE: Malloy selects Owen Egan as chairman of the FOI Commission
Governor Dannel P. Malloy has announced that he has selected Owen P. Eagan of West Hartford to serve as chairman of the Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC), the state body responsible for administering and enforcing the provisions of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, which ensures citizen access to the records and meetings of public agencies.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Editorial: State pardons board should meet in public
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s words about open government and secrecy at the Board of Pardons and Paroles sound reasonable at first, but his administration’s actions have not matched the words.
Malloy said Friday that the state pardons board should meet in public, with limited exceptions made for the privacy of crime victims. And that it’s a “balancing act, but more often than not, err on the side of transparency.”
Read more here.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
FOI Commission orders release of Sandy Hook 911 tapes
However, the prosecutor leading the investigation into the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting said after the ruling that he will ask Connecticut’s courts to block the release of the tapes by filing an appeal of the commission's decision.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
REPORT: Task Force Member Urges Caution Regarding Secrecy
Monday, August 5, 2013
Report: Connecticut's FOI commission a workable model for other states
Thursday, July 4, 2013
SPJ BLOG: Happy FOI-th of July!
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Newtown town clerk finally obeys state law on death certificates
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
CTSPJ appoints four journalists to legislature’s task force on FOI and privacy
READ FULL STORY HERE
Sunday, June 16, 2013
A look at high school athletic budgets
He requested all the budgets earlier this year under the Freedom of Information Act, and
he found out who is the highest paid athletic director, what coaches get paid in each district and what it costs to use a pay-for-play program.
READ HIS FULL STORY HERE
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Connecticut legislature approves bill that will seal Newtown and other homicide scene photos
Thursday, May 23, 2013
EDITORIAL: Proposal to keep public in the dark on Newtown findings is absurd
What’s worse, it’s alarming that prosecutors, members of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and leaders in the General Assembly crafted legislation along those lines in secret, apparently aiming to avoid public hearings on the topic.
Read more here.
Legislation could block the release of Newtown tragedy records (document)
A draft of the proposal was released by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office Wednesday afternoon, a day after the Hartford Courant reported on the efforts to create the bill.
The legislation would apply only to the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, although emails obtained by the Courant showed that the Chief State’s Attorney’s office hoped the bill would apply to all cases in Connecticut.
Read more here.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Hamden releases police brutality lawsuit settlement amount to resolve FOI complaint
New Haven Register
HAMDEN — The town Thursday disclosed it settled an excessive force lawsuit against the Police Department last year for $55,000.
Mayor Scott Jackson called it a “business decision” to settle as opposed to taking the case to trial.
The suit had been filed by Stephen and Nicholas Alberino in U.S. District Court in 2008. While the case was settled early last year, town officials refused to release the amount involved until now.
The New Haven Register filed a complaint with the state Freedom of Information Commission last fall, arguing the public has a right to information about a settlement involving litigation against a municipality.
A hearing took place in Hartford in February. The town Thursday finally revealed the amount, in exchange for the Register withdrawing its complaint.
Read more here.
Monday, April 22, 2013
FOI Commission: Rowland documents not public
Monday, April 15, 2013
Gun permits, open records discussed at annual FOI conference in Haddam
In the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, the issues of transparency in government is a timely topic, Freedom of Information Commission Executive Director Colleen Murphy said to a crowd of town officials from across the state gathered at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station.
READ FULL STORY HERE ON MIDDLETOWNPRESS.COM
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
FOI hearing held on Rowland documents
It is still unclear if the city of Waterbury has done enough to comply with a request seeking public records related to former Gov. John Rowland.
A hearing was held Tuesday at the Freedom of Information offices in Hartford featuring testimony in a complaint filed by Andy Thibault and the New Haven Register against Waterbury and Mayor Neil O’Leary claiming the city has not released all records in its possession related to the former governor’s position as economic development coordinator.
Rowland held the position from January 2008 to January 2012 and was paid by a grant issued by the city to the Chamber of Commerce.
Waterbury officials are saying they have already turned over multiple pages of records and that any other records would be found at the chamber. But since the chamber is not a public entity, those are not public records, the city claims.
“The city of Waterbury did not employ John Rowland,” corporation counsel Linda Wihbey said at the hearing Tuesday.
Rowland’s relationship was solely with the chamber, she said. Wihbey said the city has turned over 169 pages of documents in one batch and 49 pages of documents in another to Thibault in response to his public records request.
Thibault, however, said none of the records contained the information he had asked for such as expense reports, payroll records, job descriptions, time sheets and meeting logs.
“I don’t think they made a viable effort to retrieve records,” he said Tuesday. He also insisted that “the city of Waterbury does not have the legal authority to subcontract away the public’s right to know.”
Attorney Kevin Daly said he would like to get legal clarification as to what responsibility the chamber has to produce the records.
“To my knowledge, we turned over everything we have to you,” Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary testified.
Some of the confusion in the case stems from the fact that Rowland’s work arrangement was made under former Mayor Michael Jarjura. Since Jarjura reportedly did not use email, there are fewer public records to request to obtain details of what the specific duties of Rowland’s position were.
Hearing officer Lisa Siegel asked for the city’s contributions to the chamber for the years before, during and after Rowland worked there and said there did appear to be a spike in funds given from the city to the chamber during Rowland’s employment period.
Siegel also said records taken by the federal government in relation to Rowland may not be related to this case.
She is expected to produce a decision and a report in the case in the next few weeks, which will then go to the full Freedom of Information Commission, which will take a vote on whether the state’s Freedom of Information Act was violated.
View video from the hearing.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Bye, Cassano vote to end secret expense accounts - press release
Malloy's proposed changes to watchdog agencies
Malloy is proposing combining staffs from the Freedom of Information Commission, the Elections Enforcement Commission and the Office Of State Ethics, which currently have separate administrative, legal and advocacy functions even though they share some clerical staff.
Malloy's plan has been criticized as a way to undermine the role of government watchdog agencies, according to an article in The Day, and a former executive director and general counsel of the FOI Commission is blasting the plan.
What do you think? Should the agencies be combined under one office? Should the governor be able to cut money from watchdog agencies whenever he feels like it?