Malloy, The Supposed 'Transparency' Governor, Blasted As 'Foe Of FOI'

Andrew Doba, Malloy's director of communications, had only this to say about Labriola's comments: "This is a lame political stunt."

Doba already had to respond to "transparency" questions in connection with a May 12 Government Watch column about bills pending in the legislature this year that would further erode the public's right to know.

Doba said at the time that Malloy's moves with the watchdog agencies were intended to improve efficiency, not control or hinder them. And, in general, he said: "I would disagree that there's been an effort by the administration to reduce transparency. On economic development deals, there's a certain amount of confidentiality that's needed to move a deal forward. But by and large, we've made every effort to make this administration transparent in all of its endeavors."

That May 12 column also mentioned a bill proposed by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo that would buck the trend of FOI erosion, however – and Labriola noted in Friday's statement that Malloy's administration has resisted it.

Lembo's House Bill 6566, "An Act Concerning Transparency In Economic Assistance Programs," would create a searchable, online database for the public to research economic-development benefits that the state grants to businesses – such as tax breaks, loans and grants.

The bill has been opposed by the business community, and Malloy administration officials have testified against it, questioning its cost. It's now subject to negotiations that Ojakian said he hopes will "strike a balance between our economic development needs and opportunities, and … transparency."

Lembo has said in the past that he would rather "kill my own bill" than water it down too much in negotiations to pass it.

At least a couple of states – Missouri and Oklahoma — have established searchable databases on government websites, where the public can enter a company's name and find out what tax breaks or other aid it receives. Missouri and Oklahoma are generally rated by trade publications as more business-friendly than Connecticut.

Smith announced Monday that the council on FOI would give Lembo its 2013 Bice Clemow Award, which goes annually "to a non-journalist who has worked for open government." He added: "As you know Lembo's transparency legislation is facing stiff opposition from the Malloy administration and others."

Meanwhile, at week's end, Malloy's office still hadn't produced any emails about the secret Newtown bill that it received or sent. The Courant requested them Tuesday.

And, with regard to the audio tapes of 911 emergency calls: The most recent, close analogy to the Newtown massacre in Connecticut was the August 2010 killing of eight people at Hartford Distributors in Manchester. The 911 tapes for that were released within several days. On one of them, gunman Omar Thornton said he committed the mass murders because he'd been subjected to racism.

Investigation determined his statements were unfounded. But the tapes were released, and the public understood the incident better.

Courant staff writer Mara Lee contributed to this report.

Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at jlender@courant.com, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115 and find him on Twitter at @jonlender.

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