Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, Jan. 15, 2014
The meeting was at Wood-N-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.
Present: Jim Smith, Morgan McGinley, Dick Ahles, Claude Albert, Chris VanDeHoef, Dan Klau, Tom Appleby, Mitch Pearlman, Mary Connolly, Steve Kalb, Zachary Janowski, Marcia Chambers, Steve Nevas, Tom Scheffey, Colleen Murphy, Paula Pearlman.
The minutes of the Nov. 20, 2013, meeting were accepted. There was no meeting in December 2013.
Treasurer’s Report: The balance is now $20,000, up from $11,900 in November 2013.
Privacy/FOI Task Force: Smith reported a recent 14-3 vote to support more secrecy in the handling of documents related to homicides, an outgrowth of demands from Newtown families that some documents from the 2012 school shootings not be made public. This recommendation, which would apply beyond the Newtown case, includes the creation of a process where documents would be available for the public to view but not copy. Unauthorized copying would be illegal.
The three no votes, which mirror the CCFOI position, were from Smith, Murphy and Susan Storey, chief public defender. Concerns were raised about votes from other FOI advocates on the task force, including representatives of the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists. They voted for the majority position, although they said it was a case of voting for the lesser of two evils.
Smith and Murphy have submitted explanations of their position to the task force to be included in the final report. It was agreed Smith will contact SPJ to request a similar explanation be submitted to prevent misunderstanding of those yes votes.
VanDeHoef said there is little interest in the legislature in taking up more FOI restrictions in an election year, although there will be some legislators pressing the issue.
Scoring legislative votes: Klau suggested CCFOI begin scoring legislators’ votes on FOI issues. There was agreement this should be considered.
Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be Feb. 19 at noon at Wood-N-Tap.