Mayor Perez Should Follow Ruling, Turn Over Documents
March 15, 2009
Hartford city hall has lost yet another round in its long fight to keep from the public information that by law should be accessible. When will Mayor Eddie Perez and other city officials finally yield to the principle of open government?
Rather than appeal the latest ruling by the state's Freedom of Information Commission, issued Wednesday, the city and the contractor in charge of its schools construction project should do what the commission ordered: Release to The Courant (which filed the FOI request) all information turned over to the state grand jury that is investigating allegations of corruption at city hall.
In its ruling, the commission rejected the city's position that those records were protected from disclosure because they were part of the grand jury's investigation — a position that has not persuaded the commission or the courts in other cases. The city could appeal the ruling to Superior Court, but that would simply reinforce the notion that city hall has something to hide.
Mr. Perez's thumbing his nose at the public's right to know is becoming a habit. Another example: The FOI Commission ruled last year that the mayor broke the law when he convened closed-door meetings to discuss corporate support for a new arena.
In February, Mr. Perez, as a result of the grand jury investigation, was arrested on bribery charges. Other arrests may follow.
The public's trust in Hartford city hall may be at a new low. It will be difficult to rebuild trust so long as city officials fight to keep public information secret.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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