5 thoughts on “Editorial: A Disputed FOI Question Regarding ‘Illegal Meetings’

  1. “There will be a public forum about the Freedom of Information Act and its practical realities for local government on Jan. 23, 2018 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Town officials and the general public are urged to attend. Tom Hennick from the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission will be a principal speaker. There will be many questions and answers. ” Mike, I hope you will be there as an ‘expert witness’ and a voice of experience in these matters with the town. Excellent piece you have written and job you have done on this.

  2. Mike, whatever the outcome of this, i am hoping that your decision to print comments here only with people’s real names will also bring back some balance and responsibility to civic exchange. While i haven’t gone back to read your own coverage of the Committee hearings, i am hoping, that every article was prefaced with an explanation of the nature of these meetings, including the need to have wide-ranging discussions so final decisions reflect considered thought.

    To my fellow readers of local news: instead of jumping to assumptions that our volunteer board, commission and committee members are trying to hide something, please take a moment to consider how incredibly difficult it might be to have thoughtful discussion, make sensitive comments knowing that the public is ready to pounce in an online forum, where, until only recently, comments were posted anonymously.

    Social media has transformed civic exchange, making each and every one of us an immediate participant in current events, able to give input at the speed of a keypad click. I hope that everyone who cares about our town moving forward on this – or any other issue – will review any comment carefully before hitting send, to be sure it is thoughtful and not a character assassination, and offers input rather than demands.

    Finally, if something bothers us so much then we also have the option to start attending meetings, not only commenting after the fact. Having served on other Commissions and Committees, I’m guessing that 99% of most town meetings have either the same one or two audience members, or no one at all. Easy to sit at home rather than actually spend the hours in person that these meetings really require.

    Going to end with two thank you’s. The first: to Mike for being an amazing ‘one-person news organization.” You know more and cover more than the bigger news shops! The second: to the volunteers who gave their time to serve on this Committee and to any other town board, commission or committee. We ask a lot of you, and it’s incumbent on us to provide an environment that supports thoughtful, productive exchange. We all want the same thing here: an efficient, effective government that offers quality service and productive use of town resources!

    • Jane thank you for your kind words and keen observations. I agree that we typically see the same handful of people attend public meetings of our government bodies, at least in person. I’d add just one note to that, as it seems relevant to this discussion: If no one knows a public meeting is taking place except those running it, then it’s not possible for the public to attend. Thank you again.

  3. “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the later.” – Thomas Jefferson.

    Thank you Mike for taking the time and effort to point out the FOIA violations and the illegality of the actions. The law is very clear on meetings and it requires notification. Anyone elected or appointed needs to follow these laws.

    Without an open government, decisions are based on the voice of few instead of the many. Secrecy is a cancer in government and transparency is key to the process and keeping a healthy dynamic in our town. It begs the question – if you are an elected or appointed official and you don’t want open government and a dialog with your fellow residents and be held accountable, then we have a larger problem.

    “Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant” – Louis Brandeis

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