CFOG President’s Column

By Bernard Kavaler
President, Connecticut Foundation for Open Government

Concerns about public accessibility to the inner-workings of government – at the federal level as well as at the state and municipal level – continue unabated. Add to that increasing questions about how much today’s students understand about the First Amendment, freedom of the press and freedom of information requirements, and there’s no doubt that the work of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government is as important as ever.

 Fortunately, this year’s dedicated and determined CFOG Board members are reaching out to inform, educate and engage the public – including students – on these critical issues.

An element of that effort is spreading the word, and CFOG has developed a new public information brochure and a new website in recent months to help to accomplish that. Thank you to the many Board members who played a role in both initiatives, and in the production of this newsletter.

As noted elsewhere here, work is continuing to bring the First Amendment curriculum developed by CFOG Board members to more high school classrooms in Connecticut, and plans are underway to once again produce a timely essay contest for high school students on First Amendment issues.

Just days away, the third annual Stories Behind the Biggest Stories of the Year will be held in Hartford, featuring a panel of outstanding journalists describing the behind-the-scenes work to produce some of the year’s best journalism. We look forward to seeing you there on January 23. Bring a friend (or two)!

The legislative session is just underway, with new leadership in many places, starting at the top in the Governor’s Office. As in the past, FOI issues are sure to arise in the weeks ahead, under the watchful eye of advocates for open government. Stay tuned.

A couple of interesting recent developments – the legislature agreed to reinstate the requirement for transcripts of public hearings, and a new contract was agreed to with the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, which operated CT-N for more than a decade before last year’s dispute over programming and coverage. Glad both are both.

If you’re interested in joining the CFOG Board later this year, please let us know. The Governance Committee will be reviewing candidates later this spring. Elections are held at June’s annual meeting.

Before then, mark your calendars for National Sunshine Week, March 11-18. Led by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, it reminds us that our democracy depends on the governed having access to see what their government is doing. 

Thank you for your support of CFOG!