CONNECTICUT'S THREE "WATCH DOG AGENCIES"-
IN THE NEWS FROM THE 4th ESTATE WATCH DOGS:

Letter from Minority Leader of Senate requesting an opinion...
Turnaround and back peddling from Governor:  http://ctmirror.org/2016/08/19/malloy-releases-funds-withheld-from-ct-watchdog-agencies/
RELATED MATTER:  When should office holders recuse themselves?  Article from the New York TIMES Oct. 11, 2016





Freedom of Information Commission

DOING THE RIGHT THING:  The public has a right to know...road show upon request to all 169 towns and their various agencies

HERE IS THE SHORT VERSION (2017):  http://www.ct.gov/foi/cwp/view.asp?a=4161&q=488526

HERE IS A SCANNED-IN VERSION FROM THE SHORT VERSION (2010)  I CARRY WITH ME AT ALL TIMES

And here is the most up to date full version of the CT F.O.I.Act:  http://www.ct.gov/foi/lib/foi/the_foi_act/2017_foiaamendments_updated10012017.pdf


WESTON F.O.I. WORKSHOP "101" STORY
Held in Weston, Feb. 8, 2018..."transparency" is the word:  https://vimeo.com/254890341

     
(Center) Why board members might not want to communicate by Facebook or e-mail - subject to F.O.I. requests.
-----------------
#1 - F R E E D O M    O F    I N F O R M A T I O N    C O M M I S S I O N ;


Opening Annual Meeting was Executive Director Colleen Murphy


2018 Freedom of Information Annual Meeting Panels: 
 

"Nuts & Bolts" Questions & Answers


Tom Hennick moderates.  Question of online data.  "Real record" v. land record portal

PANEL ONE
         
OK TO ASK FOR PREPAYMENT FOR COPIES

HB5175 - will be helpful but is on the foot of the House Calendar


PANEL TWO

From the outside looking in
Private attorney does multiple choice, among others, these: 
PANEL THREE

Moderator Att'y Sommaruga


EMAIL IS THE ACHILLES HEAL OF GOVERNMENT

KEYNOTE SPEAKER


SOCIAL MEDIA REACHES YOUNGER GENERATION



     
INTERESTING CASE FILED


#2 - C I T I Z E N ' S    E T H I C S    A D V I S O R Y    B O A R D   ( "C.O.E.B." ) ; 


#3 - S . E . E . C .  on LWV of Weston ("State Elections Enforcement Commission") website as well.





F.O.I. HEARINGS AS WELL AS MEETINGS




  
SEPTEMBER 5, 2018 - DAY TWO OF EVIDENTIARY  HEARING...

Records relating to former coach.  Attorney McCarthy on the griddle.  F.O.I. - this is an attorney joke ("What do you call 5000 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean?"  Ans.:  A good start.").
The issue of why UCONN gave documents to COURANT and now redact parts to F.O.I.  The Hearing Officer, member of the F.O.I. Commission, is saying "That's the way the ball bounces" when he
threatens UCONN to throw the book at them by saying they have to put up...DEADLINES. 

UCONN asks for clarification of process: 






EXCELLENT MEETING
AUGUST 8, 2018 meeting supports staff.  Which justifies for me, at least, why it is more important to watch the hearings!



 
BRIDGEWATER P&Z
"24 hour period" defined.





BANTAM FIRE COMPANY
"SECRET MEETING - UNNOTICED" claim
Constructive notice


Good points by attorney, sound familiar, but actually not the whole story




So who is responsible?  C.G.A.?
Finding for union over Department.   


Sue the Sec'y of the State?
Ballots the property of Sec'y of the State after the requisite time they are in the hands of Town.

After discussion of other matters, adjourn.  1hr 35 minutes or so.





F.O.I. testifies (no quorum present) at CT Data Analysis folks...
Informal discussion of future data - public records - task force.  Differentiation as to what is "discoverable" and what is not.





July 11, 2018

We watched F.O.I. Commission July meeting for their last item first...Woodbridge Police Commission v. police officer for improper executive session.
July 27th "outing" by F.O.I. Commission. and end of the 2 hour July meeting.
.



June 20, 2018


Reference made to this article: http://www.courant.com/sports/uconn-mens-basketball/hc-sp-kevin-ollie-termination-20180620-story.html

 
Voluminous request.  To be discussed in camera in 3 months with progress reports in the interim.
When they resume the hearing, President Herbst won't be President - she has said they, UCONN, have a case for termination just on the recent obvious documented violations.




May 31, 2018


WHITING
PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE  / D.M.H.A.S. v. Hartford COURANT HEARING MAY 31, 2018

    
FO.I. requests etc. personnel from D.M.H.A.S. who responded not pictured
So we figured out what this hearing was for:  Education.  Young lawyer getting a lesson from experienced attorney for F.O.I.A., experienced reporter.

Continued for another hearing date or whatever.  Viewing of medical records "in camera" as opposed to on CT-N.  Victor Perpetua, chief attorney for F.O.I. demands this, or may do so...





"PRELIMINARY DRAFT EXEMPTION" HEARING (90 minutes total in public notice).  An example of how economic models work...
Why and how was "90 minutes" chosen as the total length for the F.O.I. hearing?  Ans.  90 minutes maximum  for parking meters on the street?

Record-Journal, Meriden v. D.E.C.D.

http://www.ctn.state.ct.us/ctnplayer.asp?odID=15340

Register- Journal reporter (left, below) asks "What's so secret?"
 
"REMI MODEL"
This is a laugh!  Which model do they use (more than one available) and how do they change their initial offering?

D.E.C.D. runs scenarios.  And they show basic indicators only.  We note some models might be for different size regions - which is like other computer models that require total inputs of larger size in order to be accurate???

F.O.I. QUESTION - INPUTS:  What kind of jobs, needs. - assumptions.
CONCLUSION?

July 13 for next meeting consideration  of hearing officer findings. 





May 28, 2018

First item from jailhouse pre-trial, re:  legal requirements about receiving all evidence - F.O.I.gives advice only.  Second item about Christmas Day fire 2011 litigation.

"STRATEGY & NEGOTIATION":  What and who may participate and how do you count a quorum for deciding whether to go into executive session. 

Stamford Town Attorney asked:  Was it an Executive Session matter or not? 

HEARING OFFICER READY FOR S.C.O.T.U.S.?

Last item on the agenda legislative review of what passed and how watered down it got and by the qway, no F.O.I. budget cut in budget adjustment.




January 11, 2018

School Resource Officer got students arrested for "rapping" in the school courtyard over lunch.
  Suspension as well as police record for "rappers."
   
January 11, 2018 F.O.I. Commission "rapping" videos in Berlin H.S. courtyard during lunch break...how many legal issues does this case touch???





ONLINE REPORT - ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT REFERS TO USE OF   -    F A K E    N E W S 


City of New Haven P.D. Attorney and State's Attorney's Office v. Yale.  Miss handling DNA samples. 


Freedom of Information Commission Hearing Regarding the Suzanne Jovin Murder Case - Yale Law School Student have a field day



Cold Case
(18yrs ago)

       
STATE TOOK OVER IN 2007 - HOW MUCH TAXPAYER MONEY WAS SPENT ON THIS F.O.I.A. COMPLAINT?
Records department.   Yale students are being allowed to question.  Perry Mason would be proud.  No records later than 2007.  Records taken by state's att'y.;  "what's 'cold case.'"

A SHAME.
After spending 1 hour and a half or so that's enough!  First of all, this was an exercise for Yale law school students who used newspaper reports as "testimony."  And cost time and money for hearing officer to waste on them instead of serious complaints.









Previous hear officer reports (2014) - C.E.A. had withdrawn.  Legislature has changed the law now.


Teachers Union wants to know who donated to Achievement First by name (not just names of the three schools in CT - but who is paying for curriculum development).  Is there a record of who gave money?  Two complaints withdrawn.

June 12th simultaneous briefs.  ONE brief (please - from att'y) - reference to "Perry Mason" quality of case.





ON TUESDAY NOVEMBER 1, 2016 AGENDA...

"...The question in this case is whether in this case the MDC is abusing the federal Protected Critical Infrastructure Program by putting a 'classified' stamp on documents and information that clearly are not about 'critical infrastructure' – and we think they are abusing it," said Dan Klau, the lawyer representing Rossetti in the FOI case...


Read story in full herehttp://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-lender-mdc-security-20161024-column.html






"HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR REGARDING HOW REPORTING SPENDING IS CONCERNED?" ONE CT RESIDENT ASKS.
We are interested in finding out whether "public-private partnerships" are uniformly required to provide assurance via "sunshine laws" that no proverbial "fix" is in.






AUGUST 24, 2016 AN INTERESTING MEETING!

      
NEW BRITAIN
Prisoner appeals to F.O.I. about his denial to access to records.  Department of Corrections says they have complied.  Interesting case.  And court case may be in peril.  Decided in prisoner's favor - who couldn't believe he won!

CT AIRPORT AUTHORITY
"Secret" documents and meetings:  burden of proof.  Nothing in the record tell anyone re: burden of proof.  "Trade Secrets."  Casino/MGM not currently planning casino  at airport;  "secrets" withheld.  Economic terms?  "Secret meeting" no minutes and no lease to be discussed, burden of proof - just wanted to keep public out.  Draping public meeting cloaked by "discussing lease."

In defense, Authority attorney says original proposal is dead but there are a few more still "trade secrets."  Internal documents.  380 (terminal and ground transportation)  out of 407 have been released.  Everything the airport is a lease - not intentionally not mentioned.

All discussions in private.  Lease, purchase, sell - whatever.  Slippery slope arguments.  Public interest be damned???  This was the end of actions taken we believe - we broke off watching and when we went to watch more of the "replay" found that it was no longer on the online recent meetings.  However...here is a link to meting minutes, which were online at the F.O.I. website:  http://www.ct.gov/foi/cwp/view.asp?a=4282&Q=585178&PM=1





AUGUST 10, 2016
"Justice delayed is justice denied?"
CT FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION TO PERHAPS SUGGEST CHANGES TO REGS  (r)
FOR EXAMPLE, WITHDRAWAL OF  COMPLAINT THE MORNING OF THE HEARING COSTLY PLUS WHO ELSE CAN'T GET A HEARING AS A RESULT?

Sympathetic to builder from Vernon, who was confused about the process in his town, voted to reopen hearing (l).

    
REFERENCE TO CUTS TO WATCHDOGS
What a difference one year makes!  Executive Director now reports that OPM has overstepped its bounds with budget cuts.  Suggests next month they should decide whether to ask for Attornney General's opinion...






FINAL REPORT:
PUBLIC ACCESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY LEGISLATION, CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY (2015 REGULAR & SPECIAL SESSIONS)
By Paula Sobral Pearlman, Staff Attorney
Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission
(Updated: July 10, 2015)

Summary of Legislative Sessions:
 
During the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions there were numerous pieces of legislation introduced that would impact the public’s right to access government records and meetings (e.g., SB 230, SB 848, SB 1056, SB 1096, SB 1109, SB 1502, HB 6813, HB 6903 and HB 7103, discussed below).  The most crucial proposal pertained to the disclosure of arrest records during a pending prosecution.

Report in full:  http://www.ct.gov/foi/cwp/view.asp?a=4314&Q=569054








Education Dept. Releases SBAC Test Data Only to Local School Superintendents
CTNEWSJUNKIE
by Christine Stuart | Aug 20, 2015 5:30am

Early Wednesday morning, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone.

The school superintendents have access to the raw data through an online reporting system that’s password protected.

In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.

“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.

CTNewsJunkie requested access to the aggregated draft reports for school districts, but was told they were “drafts” and releasing them would not be in the “public interest.”

There is an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for preliminary drafts...from definitions section: (b)  Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act shall be construed to require disclosure of:   (1)  Preliminary drafts or notes provided the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure;

For story in full:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/education_department_releases_test_data_to_superintendents_but_not_public/




DECEMBER 29, 2015


NOT F.O.I. Commission meeting
F.O.I. Hearing Officer's Hearing, 12-29-15:  Bethel citizen request for all expense info of administrators for 5 years
Online viewing of hearing Dec. 30th.  We missed opening.  We also note that Superintendent from another school district in CT recently convicted of a felony, we believe, over improper receipts/expenses - is this related?  When we arrived online, administrator answering questions by complainant's lawyer, carefully not answering who set the "fee."  Is the charge for copying itself or having to pay something for the time it took to assemble data in the request and redacting names and personal information on some pages of the document?


CLOSING:

Bethel:  Or is the complaint that the agency never set a fee structure?  But that is not in the complaint that was filed and set for this hearing.  And B.O.E. attorney points out that that individual filing not present to answer questions, only his lawyer.

Complainant's lawyer:  Fee structure?  Hearing officer questions whether filed complaintt says anything about technical stuff - copies 50 cents period, notes "May establish a fee structure" is in statute.

Stay tuned for hearing officer report on a future F.O.I. Commission agenda!




About Weston only watched the opening half hour...our thought:  Why do you think there is an "embargo"?
Malloy administration gives towns the Common Core SBAC test results but not the public:  Action violates Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act.
Jon Pelto, What Wait blog
Aug 19, 2015

This morning Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Diana Wentzell, held the state’s annual back-to-school meeting for Connecticut superintendents at Al Prince Vo-Tech High School in Hartford.

...Providing school superintendents with the 2015 SBAC results but claiming those results are “embargoed” is particularly inappropriate and offensive.

“Embargoed” is a PR term used with reporters when issuing selected press releases and has no meaning when it comes to the notion of public access to public information.  Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law makes absolutely no exception for “embargoed” information.

Making public information available to a select group of people but withholding it from others is a serious violation of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law.

The Malloy administration should immediately make the 2015 SBAC results public.  If they refuse, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission should force them to release the information and investigate who was behind this effort to keep public information secret.






AUGUST 15, 2015

This was our first time viewing a "hearing officer's" public hearing online!
F.O.I.  Commission
Hearing w/ Hearing Officer on New Britain Rock Cats
move to Hartford as part of redevelopment plan.
August 4, 2015 @30 minutes long.  We watched it August 5, 2015 on CT-N.

COMPLAINT:
 
NPR v. City of Hartford. 

Exhibit 'A' - complaint - was there a specific document?  Did you receive?  Disk made available only when public opening of all documents -  exception for draft not in law (?).

DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT NORTH - baseball team.  12 documents all together.  They establish the relationship with baseball team and Eastern League.  New Britain Rock Cats.  $350 million.  Redevelopment inter-related - public-private partnership.  Big question we wonder about:  Does private sector have to be asked to comply?  Signed "prior to operation" to borrow money (bond offering) - two weeks of signing all developer prior to release.

Corporation Counsel saw it in "draft form" first.  Bond Counsel too since be or she had to certify that it was signed.  Still a draft?  Similar but not the same fact situation at differing scales?  Where in F.O.I. does it say this is OK?  Hearing officer asks to City of Hartford attorney to submit brief by 8-28-15.  Hearing Officer wasn't able to find anything in the act itself addressing this.

DRAFT decision by hearing officer to be issued after Aug 28th, then there will be a full hearing at the F.O.I. Commission, date & time T.B.A.







July 22, 2015 meeting of F.O.I. Commission

On a slow day for news, we watched a re-run of the CT F.O.I. Commission at work - http://ct-n.com/ctnplayer.asp?odID=11807 

Police Departments, Boards of Education, Corrections Dept. and CT gov't entities as well as Selectmen challenged under F.O.I. this agenda.

Those items discussed after hearing officer's opinion published as a draft represented why lawyers might have a better chance of success at F.O.I. than non-lawyers. 

However, the key item we noticed was why those who received unsympathetic draft opinions would withdraw before final action taken.  Hartford charter school case att'y asked and received note of this in the Commission's final wording.  And the next case tried the same thing, but language not inserted - it was already implied that the defending Board of Education had learned their lesson.

Recurring complaint not included for future hearing agenda, staff reports.





We note that shortly after the Nov. 3, 2015 election, the new First Selectman asked the F.O.I. Commission to return to Weston.


April 20, 2015 visit by F.O.I. information officer to Weston drew a crowd. 

Each administration in Weston tries to inform its volunteer Boards and Commission members and staff what they must do to keep things "transparent."  However, if the public wants to know what actions and government may have taken outside the F.O.I.A. or "open government" rules, they go to court...and perhaps end up back at F.O.I. Commission.





Forsome  previous news about the S.E.E.C. please go to http://www.lwvweston.org/campaignfinancereform.html

STATE ELECTIONS ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION




August 15, 2018
Post-Primary Meeting of S.E.E.C.
Interesting meeting.  $6 million plus not to be used in Gubernatorial.

Regular business - Chapter 152 - Referendum after a town meeting issue - in a snowstorm, residents arrive 20 minutes late, found town hall closed.  Went to S.E.E.C. with complaint that illegal referendum because no town meeting first.  But minutes approved showing that a fast meeting had taken place.  Complaint withdrawn.

2016 Cassano "$1200 bonus."  mpermissable - Steve to pay it himself.

Voter assistance discussed in Exec Session, voted on, Montville.

More 2016 complaint - this one for using "Trump" name in CT S.E.E.C. funded campaign literature.

255 applications for funding under C.E.P.

NEXT:  Aug. 22nd.  Note:  The grants begin to be reduced in amount around this time by statute.






State Elections Enforcement Commission
June 20, 2018 Meeting   
Recorded On: 6/20/2018

     
Chair. of 5-member S.E.E.C. (l)
Executive Director (c) and staff attorney report on S.E.E.C.cases/complaints going back to 2016 Election including some we think we remember!

(This is the meeting where Gubernatorial (R) Boughton and Herbst quaified for $$ from C.E.P.and lots of others too plus some who didn't yet - this was done at the end of the lengthy meeting.)

Executive Session after initial discussion in open session re: work load...and interim q&a with entity below when Commission comes out of Executive Session explicitly to announce decision about holding Public Hearing..

  
Indivisible Greenwich and Indivisible Shoreline speak.  S.E.E.C.  Attorney responded.
Question regarding this will be discussed at a Public Hearing.  "Invisibles" thank Commission but want fast answer - my interpretation of the discussion - after listening twice).


Score two and a half for D and half of one for R...
Grass roots, unions and PACs - all use same techniques - contributions in the dark changing hands???  As it is said of investigations generally, follow the money...





CT Ethics Advisory Board

NEWS: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-uconn-edsall-ethics-court-hearing-20180717-story.html
Previously... http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-uconn-ethics-edsalls-son-20180626-story.html








Is it a "rat" if you stick something into a bill and the other Party doesn't blow a whistle?






DECEMBER 21, 2017 MEETING...http://www.ctn.state.ct.us/ctnplayer.asp?odID=14844

   
Chair. Castricone
Looking to involve new members and minimize waste of resources.


      
Executive Director Carson and staff
Very realistic of where CT is right now.  Staff to be employed educating themselves and others at their own expense (c) as well as keeping the Commissioners up on the latest laws and getting work out of sub-committees.

Excellent, short (under an hour) meeting.  New member (not pictured) wants to propose legislation after review of 169 towns' ethics mechanisms.  Job for a sub-committee?

ABOUT TOWN SUGGESTS THIS FOR A METHODOLOGY FOR SUCH A SUB-COMMITTEE:
ONE POSSIBLE ACTION:  Contact those Towns without Boards of Ethics and offer advice (free) as well as links to Model Code for their reference.  Involve media in promoting action.



Weston is one of those towns that has both a Code of Ethics as well as a Board of Ethics to respond to issues/requests for informal as well as formal opinions.

SPOT CHECK FOR LOCAL OFFICIALS
Meeting notice;  a previous meeting has elected officers and had held an executive session.  We do not attend these meetings.
What does Town of Weston consider its "Code of Ethics?" 
Do you know the definition of "personal interest" in our code? 
How about this part of the Code itself
And Weston Board of Ethics get new members.





COMING THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2016:
 
http://ctmirror.org/2016/09/12/wade-faces-subpoena-in-cigna-conflict-of-interest-question/



WE WILL WATCH IT OURSELVES IF WE CAN FIND IT
Report from CT MIRROR:  http://ctmirror.org/2016/09/15/wade-to-recuse-herself-from-anthem-cigna-review/
As we read report, from CT MIRROR, it seems to us that the fine hand of government administration, thanks to this being an election year state-wide, decided that this was a no-win for the Governor or indirectly for his Party.



       
Nominations for Chair. and Vice-Chair. - new Vice-Chair at right above.  We watched a rerun of the CT Ethics Advisory Board meeting for July 2016, and found that thanks to the dire situation  re: CT budget, has left "watchdogs" to their own devices, eliminating the job of Governor-controlled staff individual, and instead relying on budget cuts to keep these agencies at arms length.  FYI - these agencies, according to statute are not supposed to be subject to budget cuts for obvious reasons (i.e. staff salaries cut, making legal actions harder to bring in a timely manner).   What was discussed at this meeting were the ramifications of the presently illegal cuts, and how the "watchdog" agencies are actually being creative in merging some common elements to save $$.

       
And it was with some interest that we listened to the advice from counsel to continue with response to we think we heard Common Cause or another group of similar standing and repute.  Even though the Washington D.C. government was announced as coming out against the merger above noted.  And another interesting report was about effectiveness of media and training report by staff - who made it short and sweet!!!


90 Requests for Opinion in a month
Executive Director explains that this agency has nine (9) members with only a bare majority allowed (sounds like the Weston way).  Also, that the meeting in September when the Anthem-Cigna merger opinion re: recusal is scheduled comes just prior to reappointment date for two Commissioners...and that the two (2) present vacancies (Majority leaders of House and Senate) would create potentially too many vacancies for effective functioning of the Ethics group.

Senator Fasano's letter to AG
http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/upload/2016/08/08-16-16AG-opinion_Watchdog.pdf

GOV. MALLOY GIVES IN, RELEASES $$
http://ctmirror.org/2016/08/19/malloy-releases-funds-withheld-from-ct-watchdog-agencies/






WE DON'T REPORT ON THIS BOARD
Was this cancellation (l) the result of what the F.O.I. "101" session (r) advised? 

Not that we heard.  Of course, any private consultation after the meeting would be just that - private.  Of the eleven exemptions to the F.O.I. Act, would one have applied to this?