UPDATE: Listen tonight for a story during All Things Considered, or listen online now.
Mayor Pedro Segarra says he wants the city to be more transparent. Here’s an example.
Way back when, Mayor Eddie Perez held a meeting at city hall of business leaders to discuss their appetite for a new downtown sports and entertainment arena. He called in his Arena Task Force. Specifically, Perez was trying to get a handle on just how much money these corporate folks would be willing to put up for things like luxury boxes.
But the meeting he held was done in private and Perez insisted the meeting needn’t be held in public. We at the Courant (way back when) objected. The state’s Freedom of Information Commission said Perez violated the state’s public meeting laws. Perez appealed to a state court judge and lost. And then, Perez appealed again — this time to the state supreme court, where the case remains.
We asked Segarra if this was a case he was going to continue to fight, and spend money on. After review from his legal department, the response came back.
The statement is below.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT CASES
—NEWS AND COMMUNITY RELEASE—
(August 13, 2010)— As part of the Mayor’s initiative to improve communications, relations, and transparency, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra has asked the City of Hartford’s Office of Corporation Counsel to review a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) files to reassess which ones the City will pursue. For instance, the appeal involving the Arena Task Force case is being withdrawn. Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee Borges has directed outside counsel to do so immediately.
Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said, “It is a priority of this administration that we provide information upon request while following all the appropriate measures and procedures.”
Kee Borges adds, “We all must be sensitive to the fact that gathering and dispensing public information is a two-way street and sometimes it does take extra time to obtain all appropriate documentation. We ask those making inquiries to please be precise in their requests and patient with a reasonable turn-around time.”
The Office of Human Relations will set up FOIA training sessions for staff members of departments that deal with a large number of these requests.