Monday, June 08, 2009

Further explanation on the FOI request

With regard to yesterday's post about FOI, I got some more information today. I now understand that this is being driven by a couple things, not any Council members.

First, the state Freedom of Information Commission has been getting more forceful in their expectations - fair enough in my opinion. But not in this case which I believe would have a chilling effect on communication between Council members and town residents.

Second, this was suggested to the Town Hall as a result of ongoing legal issues.

Regardless, I have no intention of complying with the direction detailed in the memo. Sorry. Ain't gonna do it.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

It sounds like it is being driven by the town attorney and the TM.

I find it hard to believe that the CT FOI Act meant that all private corespondences be turned over to the town. If that were the case, you may find many people fearful of talking with their representatives.

What is the penalty if the representatives don't turn over all corespondences? WHere do you draw the line?

tim white said...

My initial reaction is that I don't give a hoot what Hall tells me to do. I don't take direction from him. I take direction from the voters. (Unlike him... he admits he take direction from the TM.)

If I wish to forward something to the Town Hall (rare, but sometimes useful and easiest), then I will. Otherwise, it may be a court order that needs to happen.

I'm not sure on all the possibilities. I just know I don't care for this one bit. Far too big brotherish for me.

Anonymous said...

Whether this is being driven by Hartford or by the town junta, it must be opposed. It infringes on our basic 1st Amendment rights.

Anonymous said...

So, are you against your precious open government? This is the government saying that if you recieve information about a topic, you will share it with the others. This is nothing new, courtrooms have been doing this for over 200 years.
Are you flipping or flopping?

Anonymous said...

"So, are you against your precious open government?"

Private conversations between a constituent and their representative is not what the FOI Act had in mind.

It is more about the documents that many in our town government seem to hide and not share with all members of the TC and/or the taxpayers.

Open government is about being fair and honest with all tax payers, not a private email or conversation I may have with my representative.

Receiving information or getting a contituents opinion are 2 different things....where do you draw the line?

Anonymous said...

If Hall gets "directions" from Brodach Builders, you dont want to know? You want Ecke and Bowman to keep creating $10 land deals? If you allow constituants free voice, nothing is made public. This is not a new concept. It's called disclosure and the government has required it for 200+ years. Even our President follows these rules.

Summer is 2 weeks away and tim has his flip/flops out early

tim white said...

No flip flop. I don't like big brother. And that's the appearance of this.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike him... he admits he take direction from the TM."

And, both Hall and Milone get their direction from the developers, realtors and special contractors, basically the people who are only interested in lining their pockets and don't give a damn about the town.

Anonymous said...

If this is adopted, I suggest that everyone in town send Hall and Milone and the rest of the Dums two emails every day until they get the message.

tim white said...

"two emails every day"

I think it'll be funny when someone emails me a phone book. Then I'll go old school Senate.

The Council will have to sit there while I read it into the record.

And they think the meetings go long now?

Anonymous said...

There are two competing interests here. One is the right of the people to communicate candidly with their elected officials, which reasonably entails some need for privacy. The other is the responsibility of public officials to be 'transparent'. Where do we strike the balance?

Surely FOI did not intend that every letter about dog poop in the park be entered into the public record. Such a broad interpretation of FOI would be a nightmare to administer; it would have to apply to every member of every town board and commission.

Those who accuse Tim of opposing 'transparency' on this issue are being self-servingly gratuitous. They ignore the chilling effects this would have on candid communications betweeen voters and elected officials, and they ignore the administrative nightmare of implementing this.

Elected town and state officials should oppose this broad application of FOI, and there are strong 1st Amendment grounds to do so. The courts may ultimately have to resolve this issue.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Those who accuse Tim of opposing 'transparency' on this issue are being self-servingly gratuitous."

Hall/Milone/Altieri etc are trying to obfuscate the real issue: their insider relationships with developers and other special interests. Their sudden interest in *transparency* in the name of FOI is just a smoke screen which the voters will see through.

Anonymous said...

Tim is now against transparency?

Anonymous said...

If they want to capture information exchanges with department heads and they want transparency, then they should make it illegal for special people to call elected or staff on their cell phones.

There was a post that said a business person had the police chief's cell phone number, why is that? How many people have this privileged access? Isn't this special treatment? I would think that this practice could look like some people get favored treatment. To avoid any hint of special treatmnet calls on unrecorded phones should be banned, staff should have their cell phone number changed and be told to not give out the new number.

Now it seems crazy that they want to capture all correspondence and still allow unrecorded cell phone access.

Anonymous said...

Someone is spamming “flip-flop” and “Tim is against transparency” all over this blog. NOTICE HOW the spammer just throws out these clich├ęs and does not address the substance of the issue.

Tim and other elected officials have good, principled reasons to oppose this Hall/Milone/TA proposal --

(1) on First Amendment grounds: the chilling effect it would have on citizens communicating candidly with their elected officials. (The town probably has the right to demand copies of all official correspondence from its own staff, but elected officials are accountable only to the voters);

(2) on logistical grounds: the administrative nightmare and costs of receiving, processing, and storing every bit of correspondence from hundreds of elected and appointed town board members; and

(3) on grounds of precedence: no other city, town, or state monitors contacts between citizens and their elected officials as Hall/Milone/TA are proposing. Nowhere else interprets FOI this way. Why only Cheshire?

Hall & Milone could care less about ‘transparency’. They want to score political points at great expense to the town and our constitutional right to unimpeded contact with elected officials.