By Gary Gold
President, Connecticut Foundation for Open Government
I have been asked by our editor to contribute a few paragraphs about the rationale for this newsletter and the implications of the 40th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act in Connecticut.
As to the above rationale, we are attempting to increase the visibility of the Foundation, whose mission will be ameliorated by more members and dollars. As to the above implications, my colleague, Mitchell Pearlman, has set them forth elsewhere on these pages, which happily relegates me to a brief resume of what we have done in the past year and intend to do in the future.
The first charge of the outgoing Executive Committee to me was to implement its plan to restructure the Foundation as a committee-based organization. I then appointed the members (and temporary chairs) of the following nascent committees: Communications, Development, Membership, Program, Essay and the Walter Cronkite Award. Thereafter, the committees met during the course of the fiscal year and accomplished a great many things to enhance open government in our state.
The Communications Committee, chaired by Michele Jacklin, worked diligently to create the newsletter that you are now enjoying. The plan is to publish it twice a year online in order to highlight CFOG’s activities, as well as those of the government and private sectors in the realm of FOI.
The Membership Committee, chaired by David Fink, (in conjunction with the Development Committee, chaired by Joy Haenlein), discussed various ideas to diversify and maximize members and finances. Among these were this newsletter, increased training of lawyers, NGOs, likely petitioners, novice journalists and officials via webinars and live presentations. They also revised our membership contribution structure and the responsibility of directors to contribute.
The Program Committee, chaired by Karin Schwanbeck, put on a series of symposia, including a panel discussion on FOI in the fall at Quinnipiac University and one on police transparency in Connecticut in the spring at Gateway Community College in New Haven. Both events were moderated by and aired on WNPR.
The Essay Committee, chaired by Mary Connolly, worked throughout the academic year on CFOG’s annual High School Essay Contest and announced the winners on May 15.
Finally, the Walter Cronkite Committee, chaired by Denis Horgan, met several times with an eye toward the presentation in October of the 6th Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Open Government. It was recently announced that the recipient is Floyd Abrams, the world-renowned First Amendment attorney and founder of the Abrams Institute at Yale Law School.
In addition to the Cronkite presentation on October 22 in New Haven (details to follow), we will persevere in the areas of Communications and Marketing (another newsletter in the winter), Membership and Development, Programs and the Essay Contest. However, in the words of the vile POW commandant in a forgettable WWII movie, “a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.” So, please join us!