The city of Hartford is dropping its fight of a Freedom of Information case before the state supreme court.
The case was brought two years ago, after then Mayor Eddie Perez convened a closed-door meeting of business leaders. Perez said he brought the group together to get a sense of corporate support for a new downtown sports and entertainment arena. And he said it was the type of meeting that didn’t have to happen in public.
But after a formal complaint filed by the Hartford Courant, the state’s Freedom of Information Commission said Perez was wrong and that he had violated state open government laws. Perez appealed to a state court judge and lost. Then, he appealed again, to the state supreme court, where the case remains.
Now, the city is changing its course. Saundra Kee Borges is the lead attorney for new Mayor Pedro Segarra.
“I think that we’ve been able to have a relationship with the press that has allowed us to be able to conduct our business and do things that we need to do without violating the law. So I’m very confident that by withdrawing this case, as I have recommended to the mayor, that it’s not going to have that dramatic an impact on the city.”
The Courant has reported that the case cost the city $44,000 – but that was before its unsuccessful appeal to superior court and its eventual appeal to the state supreme court. Kee Borges said she has asked for an update total of the cost.
“I would imagine that they’re going to be quite large. Just from my own experience, it is quite expensive to make an argument to the supreme court.”
In a press release, Segarra said that his staff is reviewing a number of FOI files to decide which ones to pursue.