Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, March 19, 2014
The meeting was at Wood-N-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.
The minutes of the Feb. 19, 2014, meeting were accepted.
Present: Jim Smith, Marcia Chambers, Morgan McGinley, Dick Ahles, Mitch Pearlman, Gary Gold, Paula Pearlman, Chris VanDeHoef, Vince Valvo, Claude Albert, Zachary Janowski, Mary Connolly, Mike Marciano, Colleen Murphy, Dan Klau, George Lombardi, Tom Scheffey.
Treasurer’s report: Lombardi said we have a balance of $19,816.28. He said our financial position looks stronger than it is. Reminders have been sent to those who have not paid their dues.
Legislative report: VanDeHoef said the good news is that Senate President Don Williams testified against the privacy/FOI task force proposal to put limits on access to documents related to homicides, an outgrowth of the 2012 school shootings in Newtown. The bad news is that other legislators still want to enact new limits.
VanDeHoef said Williams’ opposition means the bill will not be approved this session, but prospects are not good to repeal the legislation adopted last year that also limits access. He pointed out that the task force appointed to examine what happened in Newtown has been denied access to information by law enforcement because disclosure of the information to the task force would make it public.
VanDeHoef said efforts to bring the University of Connecticut Foundation under FOI are not moving forward. Chances are better for gaining access to historical records, such as the medical records of Civil War veterans, although the release of their names is still an issue. The Pardons Board wants to keep its applications secret, but VanDeHoef is not sure that proposal will move ahead. The argument of proponents is that employers Google applicants’ names, come up with this information and decide not to hire them.
VanDeHoef said media attention on FOI issues has been helpful. Legislative leaders pay attention to editorials, he said.
Contributions: Requests for contributions were received from the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government and the New England First Amendment Center. After discussion, motions were made and unanimously approved for a $1,000 donation to CFOG and a $200 donation to NEFAC.
Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be April 16 at noon at Wood-N-Tap.