Let’s just say that I’m happy another reporter has experienced my frustration with City Hall when it comes to the city of Danbury complying with the Freedom of Information Law.
Recently, my friend Andy Thibault had to deal with the hoops and red tape officials at City Hall put people through when it comes to the disclosure of public documents.
“Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law was once the pride of the nation. It has withstood numerous assaults by judges, legislators and other officials with plenty to hide.
Mandated by the will of Gov. Ella Grasso in 1975, the FOI law even has a beautiful preamble:
‘The legislature finds and declares that secrecy in government is inherently inconsistent with a true democracy, that the people have a right to be fully informed of the action taken by public agencies in order that they may retain control over the instruments they have created; that the people do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them; that the people in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for them to know . . .’
We, the people, do not yield sovereignty to the agencies that supposedly serve us. We do not give public servants the right to decide what is good for us to know. How often do you think this principle of self government is violated on a daily basis when citizens request a viewing or copies of the public records they rightfully own?
It depends on factors including what municipal or state office you enter, the demeanor of the public servants and the leadership. Some people actually believe in public service. They tend to be hospitable, even pleasant and helpful. Others act as if you have three heads or are a scout for Martians who are about to vaporize the building. They are backed up by lawyers well-practiced in the delay, deny, delay game.
‘Who are you?’
‘Why do you want those records?’
‘Why are you investigating that?'”