To the Editor:
Misinformation was presented by Rita King in the February 18th Town Times issue. I’d like to address her FOI spiel.
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is law codified in the Connecticut General Statutes. FOI enables members of the public to obtain public records or files from a public agency.
The CT.gov website for the FOI Commission details the scope and clearly defines the parameters. The cost for obtaining FOI information is the responsibility of the requester, not the Town as Ms. King alluded to.
The denial of access to public records or meetings is the issue she failed to acknowledge.
The only time the Town would bear any cost for an FOI request is if the Town agency involved withholds the information from being released. A denial may lead to a hearing at the FOI Commission and legal fees for the Town.
As a prime example, at a 2016 Planning and Zoning public hearing for the Shaker zone change at the corner of Bunker Hill and Straits Turnpike, text conversations transpired during the hearing between P&Z Commission member Ken Demirs and Erik Markiewicz, who had recently resigned as the P&Z Commission Chairman. An FOI request was made for Demirs’ text records from that time frame. First, he denied the text conversation occurred. Then, at the eleventh hour, Town Attorney Paul Jessell produced a text proving that Markiewicz gave direction to Demirs during the public hearing. It was so obvious that the FOI hearing officer called for a second hearing, ordering Demirs to appear.
Funny, with all the conniving and lying and cost to the Town that took place to hide the truth in this one example alone, Mr. Demirs still has two roles in our Town government.