Letter: 'Amateur' officials should do homework
Published 10:26 am, Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Democrats Ron Corwin and Howard Lathrop of the Planning and Zoning Commission were either faking or ignorant when they said that when the four Republican members met in caucus recently, "shady things are going on." Republican Jack Whittle called this "slandering," which misconstrues defamation case law: Public officials in America cannot be slandered over their performance, naughty or nice. The First Amendment rules.
Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act says meetings of public bodies must obey certain rules, and that "Meeting means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency ... to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power." Connecticut General Statutes §1-200(2)
When the Republicans came back to the main meeting with new thinking (and unity) on one such "matter," obviously "discussed," they said they didn't really-really discuss it. The denial was lame and unnecessary. They have a right to discuss the public's business in private.
" `Caucus' means (A) a convening or assembly of the enrolled members of a single political party who are members of a public agency ..." C.G.S. §1-200(3) The objecting Democrats are right in saying the Republicans' private time-out was a caucus, arguably one with (4-3) "control" (see above). They are right in saying that this caucus discussed a public "matter" in a "meeting."
But they are dead wrong in saying "we should declare a mistrial."
(Corwin) "It really looks bad. ... You simply cannot do it." (Lathrop) Sorry, guys, C.G.S. §1-200(2) disagrees with you. " `Meeting' does not include: ... a caucus of members of a single political party notwithstanding that such members also constitute a quorum of a public agency."
It's all very nice to have a government run by unpaid amateurs, but they embarrass us by their unwillingness to Web-surf the laws (http://search.cga.state.ct.us/) that give them their power.