Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, Nov. 19, 2014
The meeting was at Wood-N-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.
The minutes of the Oct. 15, 2014, meeting were accepted, with one change. The FOI pledge was not distributed to congressional candidates.
Present: Jim Smith, Mary Connolly, Mike Savino, Mitch Pearlman, Paula Pearlman, Ron Robillard, Dick Ahles, Michele Jacklin, Steve Kalb, Dan Klau, Chris VanDeHoef.
Treasurer’s report: Smith said there is a balance of $11,000. Dues letters have been mailed.
FOI pledge: CCFOI asked candidates for the legislature and constitutional offices to sign a pledge in support of the FOI Act. The response was disappointing. One senator, Joan Hartley of Waterbury, signed it. Governor Malloy’s office told VanDeHoef that he signed it, but a signed copy has not been provided. In the House, just under 40 candidates signed it. Most media organizations did not include the pledge in their election coverage.
There was discussion of what to do next with the pledge. Several nonprofit groups, including ACLU of Connecticut and Connecticut Voices for Children, came to CCFOI in September to suggest including an FOI pledge in the election campaign. CCFOI agreed, but that left just a month before Election Day. VanDeHoef said expecting candidates to check their mail in the last few weeks of a campaign is unrealistic.
VanDeHoef suggested asking the ACLU and Voices to mention the FOI pledge as they speak to legislators about their issues. Jacklin suggested next year’s local elections as a good time to seek support for the pledge.
A motion was made to consider using the pledge in the 2015 municipal elections, contacting the nonprofits about advocating for the pledge and distributing a news release about the results of this first round with the pledge, including the news that the governor signed it. The motion was unanimously approved.
Legislative agenda: There was discussion of how to respond to the Supreme Court decision against FOIC which said current state law requires local and state police to release only basic information on arrests, pending the completion of a prosecution. The ruling said it’s up to the legislature to decide whether the law should be changed.
There was agreement that a strategy in response to the ruling must be developed. Also on the 2015 legislative agenda will be our continuing efforts to make historical records, such as Civil War medical records, public documents.
Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be Dec. 17 at noon at Wood-N-Tap.