Our View: Government accountability starts with openness – The Bulletin

Posted Nov. 24, 2014 @ 2:01 am

Prior to the election, the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information asked candidates running for state office to sign a pledge in support of open government. With little fanfare, and waiting to after the election, we learned last week that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the pledge on Wednesday.

Malloy joins state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and a handful of legislators – 38 candidates in total with Malloy – to sign the pledge.

We are extremely disappointed that none of the incumbent legislators from Eastern Connecticut who won re-election signed. Only three candidates from the region did: Rep. Elissa Wright, D-Groton, Jonathan Cesolini of Killingly, the Republican challenger in the 44th Assembly District, and state Sen.-elect Paul Formica, R-East Lyme. Wright and Cesolini were defeated.

We applaud the governor for taking this step and we hope that his decision might influence others into following suit. Far too many legislators and Constitutional officers declined to sign, which does not bode well for openness and transparency in government.

Among one of the additional steps we would urge the governor to consider is restoring the independence of the State Freedom of Information Commission which was weakened when it and other watchdog groups were consolidated and their funding cut. Shrinking and streamlining government are worthy efforts but not the expense of serving citizens.

The two-part pledge that candidates were asked to sign includes a promise to oppose any effort to further weakened the Freedom of Information Commission and to “require debate at public hearing” before any legislation or administrative action is taken that would “weaken or impair the state FOI law.”

That second part reflects the provision of the state Constitution that requires “debates of each (legislative) house shall be public, except on such occasions as in the opinion of the house may require secrecy.”

Discussing issues out of the public view is necessary at times, but good government demands it be held to a minimum.

That’s our opinion. We’d like to hear yours. Email us your thoughts at letters@norwichbulletin.com.

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