“Trust but verify,” Ronald Reagan liked to say. He used the phrase in connection with nuclear disarmament negotiations with the former Soviet Union. I think the sentiment also describes the attitude we should hold towards our own governments–federal, state and local.
Connecticut is not the only place dealing with open government problems these days. While the State continues to wait (and wait and wait) for State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky to release his report on the Sandy Hook massacre, the nation, indeed the world, continues to wait for the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to release its 6000+ page report on the torture program administered by the CIA during the Bush-Cheney administration. But as Andrew Sullivan explains on his blog, The Dish, resistance to the disclosure of the report appears to coming mainly from the Obama administration.
Connecticut, we have a problem.
The media and commentators have consumed much digital ink over the past year discussing the General Assembly’s repeated efforts to undermine and curtail the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). But that is not the problem of which I speak, although that is a big problem. The even bigger problem is that too many state and municipal agencies have nothing but contempt for the FOIA and the body that enforces it, the Freedom of Information Commission (“FOIC”). Even when the law regarding the disclosure of certain types of documents is clear, unambiguous and long-settled, too many state and local agencies simply refuse to produce documents that they are bound by law to disclose.