Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, May 21, 2014
The meeting was at Wood-N-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.
The minutes of the April 16, 2014, meeting were accepted.
Present: Jim Smith, Dick Ahles, Claude Albert, Chris VanDeHoef, Mitch Pearlman, Tom Appleby, George Lombardi, Ron Robillard, Paula Pearlman, Colleen Murphy, Dan Klau, Tom Scheffey, Zach Janowski, Gary Gold, Chris Powell, Mary Connolly.
Treasurer’s Report: Lombardi reported a balance of $15,816.01.
Legislative Report: VanDeHoef said the FOI community did relatively well in the 2014 legislative session. The recommendations of the privacy/FOI task force, which would have brought new restrictions on access to public information, did not come to a vote. The troublesome limits on access to 911 recordings adopted last year have now expired because they were sunseted. He said CCFOI must keep pushing to bring the UConn Foundation under the FOIA and allow public access to historical records.
Other commissions: Mitch Pearlman said CCFOI must keep an eye on the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a panel created by Governor Malloy to review current policy and make recommendations in the areas of school safety, mental health and gun violence.
Concerns were discussed about another group appointed by the governor, the Victims’ Rights Enforcement Advisory Commission. It includes representatives of criminal justice and victim service groups, but no one from the FOI community. The governor’s news release said the commission “will not examine any provisions related to Connecticut’s freedom of information laws, but instead will focus on the direct relationship between victims’ rights and the criminal justice system as a whole.” CCFOI will keep watch on that commission as well.
Awards: Each year, CCFOI presents a number of awards at its June annual meeting. The Bice Clemow Award is given to nonjournalists who promote transparency in government. The Stephen Collins Memorial Award is given to journalists who work on open government issues. Champion of Open Government Awards also are awarded.
After discussion, it was agreed South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed will be given the Bice Clemow Award. He has shown respect for the FOIA and government transparency. The Collins award will go to Andy Thibault, who writes a weekly column for the Register Citizen of Torrington and other 21st Century Media Co. newspapers in Connecticut. He regularly challenges the keepers of secrets. Champion of Open Government Awards will go to retiring state Sen. Edward Meyer, Tom Hennick of the FOI Commission and Hugh McQuaid of CTNewsJunkie.
Option on dues and lunch: Janowski suggested an option to combine dues and monthly lunch payments for an annual payment of $250, which might help those with expense accounts. It was unanimously approved.
Officers: The Nominating Committee will recommend that the annual meeting re-elect the current officers: President Jim Smith, Vice President Dick Ahles, Secretary Mary Connolly, Treasurer George Lombardi and Legislative Chair Claude Albert.
Looking ahead: The annual meeting is June 18, at noon, at the Hartford Club. The cost is $40 per person.