FOIA

  A judge in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island began hearings Wednesday in a lawsuit against the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, spurred by a local journalist.

Providence-based writer Phil Eil, says he’s fought for more than five years to obtain access to thousands of pages of public evidence from a pill-mill trial, about which he plans to write a book.

“I think it’s long overdue that the press and the public have access to the evidence, and I hope the judge will agree with that and say this has gone on long enough,” said Eil. 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she "fully expects" to endorse the recommendations of career prosecutors and FBI agents investigating the security of Hillary Clinton's email server, but stopped short of recusing herself from the politically charged case.

In an interview in Aspen, Colo., Lynch said she regrets that her unscheduled meeting with former President Bill Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac this week has "cast a shadow" over the investigation into his wife's email practices at the State Department.

State of Connecticut

A Connecticut judge has ruled that state police do not have to release documents belonging to Adam Lanza that were seized from his home after he killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

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The state Freedom of Information Commission in Hartford has ruled that the University of Connecticut trustees violated open-meetings laws when they privately reviewed the school's $1.3 billion proposed budget.

Connecticut Senate Republicans / Creative Commons

Advocates are urging Connecticut lawmakers not to allow the governor to move to a system of block grants to government agencies. They worry this new way of dealing with the budget might eliminate public hearings.

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School spokespeople often help a district in crisis. But they can also obscure facts just to avoid legal risk, and make it harder to sort out truth from spin, possibly interfering with the public's right to know.

Keith Allison / Creative Commons

Connecticut lawmakers have voted to reverse a state Supreme Court ruling -- which had been criticized by the media -- that said police are only obligated to release basic information about arrests to the public while prosecutions are pending.

Mikkel Rønne / Creative Commons

Text messages between members of Gov. Dannel Malloy's staff pulled back the curtain on the controversial firing of the longtime labor-relations chief. This comes as New Jersey's "bridgegate" scandal is back in the news, which also featured text messages and emails that were made public. Why do state officials leave paper trails at all?

This hour on our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse we discuss that story, plus a recent amendment to a bill has transparency advocates scratching their heads. Also, grants from the National Science Foundation to the University of Connecticut have been frozen after it was discovered professors used the money to purchase equipment from a company they had a stake in.

Finally, have you met August Wolf? This Stamford Republican is ready to take on Sen. Richard Blumenthal in the 2016 election.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Hartford officials have admitted they violated various aspects of the state's open meetings law last year when they held a closed-door meeting to discuss proposals to build a new minor league baseball stadium. 

Mara Lavitt / WNPR

The data breach that affected Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in February affected more than a million and a half current and past Connecticut members. Most recently, Anthem announced they’ll be sending letters to those whose data was possibly leaked, offering them two years of free credit monitoring. We'll get an update. 

A heavy workload caused by the Affordable Care Act, government technology limits and staff shortages are causing unusually long delays in filling public records requests, federal health officials say.

The waits in some cases could stretch out a decade or more.

The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to respond to records requests in 20 working days, though providing documents often takes much longer. The FBI, for instance, recently reported that complex requests could average more than two years to fill.

Pete Souza / White House

Sunshine Week is supposed to be dedicated to transparency and openness in government, but President Barack Obama's administration seems to have thumbed its nose at the idea by announcing that the executive office would not comply with Freedom of Information Act requests.  

Responding to concerns over her use of a personal email account to conduct official business while in office, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she wants the public to have access to her emails. The State Department says it will review messages for possible release.

The issue rose to importance earlier this week, after it was revealed that during her entire tenure at the State Department, Clinton used a personal email account — a move that had kept the emails out of the government's control and circumvented archival practices.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

The city of Hartford has executed agreements with the developer of a baseball stadium and the owner of the minor league New Britain Rock Cats, according to bond documents provided to investors.

But you can’t see them -- not yet, anyway.

Last week, we asked the city to see any executed agreements between it and either the developer, DoNo Hartford LLC, or the team owner, Connecticut Double Play LLC.  The city denied that request, saying it was holding the documents "in escrow until all negotiations are resolved."  Typically, executed contract documents are not exempt from disclosure.  (A clarification: We formally asked to inspect the documents with the developer; we only inquired as to the status of the agreements with the team's owners.  We got no response on the latter.)

Weston Observatory

Connecticut is experiencing several different kinds of earthquakes recently. Eastern Connecticut is starting to feel more like California (only a lot colder) with nine reported tremors in the last week.

Meanwhile, some state commissioners feel like they're on shaky ground after Governor Dannel Malloy said if they don't like things he's doing, they can leave. On our weekly news roundtable, we discuss all the week's news, including the sentencing of those involved in the latest John Rowland conspiracy.

Diane Orson / WNPR

The state Supreme Court has ruled that arbitrators are not covered by the state's Freedom of Information laws, denying the public's right to know what evidence is presented in arbitration hearings between teacher unions and school boards.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Officials from the city of Hartford held a meeting Thursday to discuss proposals to build a new baseball stadium. That gathering, however, appears to have violated the state's laws governing public meetings. 

filmfoto/iStock / Thinkstock

The East Haven town employee who alleges that Mayor Joseph Maturo sexually harassed her at work was shocked to learn that her name was released to the media this week by the mayor’s office, according to her attorney. It’s unusual for these kinds of complaints to be released.

The new commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection says he is reviewing scores of incidents in which agents have used deadly force.

R. Gil Kerlikowske made that statement during an exclusive interview with NPR's Morning Edition. It was his first extended conversation about controversial incidents in which the Border Patrol has killed civilians without apparent accountability. (Click here for a full transcript of the interview.)

Peter Morenus / University of Connecticut

We learned that it cost $250,000 to bring Hillary Clinton to speak at UConn earlier this year. As the cost of higher education continues to soar, there are lots of questions being raised about this speaking fee. Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses this story, and we check in on the race for governor as candidates start buying air time for those omnipresent campaign commercials. Also this week, the Connecticut Supreme Court took another swipe at Freedom of Information laws.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

For the better part of a year and half, Hartford city officials negotiated a plan to move the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city behind closed doors, saying the deal needed that kind of confidentiality, lest it fall apart. 

City of Hartford

Earlier this week, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra called the plan to move the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city a "done deal." 

DavidsonScott15 / Creative Commons

Seven of eight Connecticut police departments that three newspapers say refused to release documents required by state law have improved their access to arrest information. 

The New Haven Register reported that the Hamden Police Department's arrest log was not available. Police Chief Thomas Wydra said he would look into it.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Efforts to change the state's laws regarding access to public information have apparently stalled. That comes as good news to those who advocate for freedom of information. 

Jon S / Creative Commons

The state's daily newspapers, and its towns and cities, remain divided over how to change the state’s laws on printed legal notices.

Daniel Oines / Creative Commons

An environmental advocacy group is challenging how energy policy is coordinated by New England's six governors. The Conservation Law Foundation has submitted public records requests to the region's six states.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Today, conversations with Connecticut’s top two lawmakers - Senate President Don Williams and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey - about two big issues: Freedom of Information and taxes.

Williams has announced his retirement after 20 years in the legislature after this session ends. We talk about his tenure, which included the aftermath of the scandal that sent Governor John Rowland to jail. And about his testimony over proposed legislation that would limit access to public records.

DavidsonScott15 / Creative Commons

Five municipal police departments in Connecticut and one state police troop failed to follow Freedom of Information law by refusing to release basic information upon request.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

As newspaper advertising revenue continues its slump across the country, publishers are trying to hold on to one line of stable cash: the printed legal notice. In Connecticut, municipal leaders are pushing for a change in state law that would allow them to save money and cut back on those notices. And newspapers are pushing back. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This week, The New Yorker published an article by Andrew Solomon featuring an extended interview with Peter Lanza, the father of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.

A member of Governor Dannel Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission said the interview does provide more information on the killer's medical and psychological background, but the commission has had limited access to other information while putting together its report.

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