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Freedom of Information
Wed August 21, 2013
Newtown, the Public's Right to Know, and Michael Moore?
A state task force trying to figure out how to balance victim privacy with the public's right to know is stacked in favor of privacy. That's according to a former newspaper editor and the head of a Connecticut open government group. The group is in the early stages of defining its mission.
James Smith is president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information and is a member of the 17-person task force set up by the state. He says the body was set up in secret by a governor, lawmakers, and prosecutors who didn't respect the legislative process. "And my concern is that a clear majority, in my opinion, of this task force comes down on the side of privacy and secrecy." But Republican State Sen. Len Fasano tried to explain to Smith why the legislature had to act so quickly. "What sparked this whole thing was a particular individual who was high profile who wanted the pictures of the incident, Sandy Hook -- every single one of those pictures and every single one of those reports -- so they could do an exploitative media piece." It's unclear who Fasano is talking about. Efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. According to the website ctnewsjunkie.com, he's referring to filmmaker Michael Moore. But Fasano said that the legislature didn't have the time to properly draft the legislation in the face of the impending request. "It wasn't the wishes to do this secretly. And it wasn't the wishes not to have public hearing. It's just that the request came in towards the end of the session. There was no opportunity to do anything about it. No one even thought about this issue." "It was just sort of an outrage that this was being put forth and we had to react." A spokesman for Governor Dannel Malloy says his office is unaware of the request Fasano is talking about. Don DeCesare, a representative of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association and the panel's co-chairman, said "it's a little early to count noses" and he's still hopeful the panel can unanimously approve a set of recommendations for the General Assembly to consider by Jan. 1.