FOI bill pits clerks vs. cops

There is a nice article by Jacqueline Rabe over at the CT Mirror on the controversy surrounding a bill that would codify a recent court decision holding the addresses of public safety workers can still be found through local land records even though there is an exemption in the law for disclosing the addresses. Here’s the lead:

Correction Officer Kevin Brace doesn’t know why a convicted arsonist at the prison where he works was able to get his personal information through a Freedom of Information request that can reveal his home address, but he can’t imagine it’s a good thing.

“It’s paper terrorism,” said Brace. “They can get my personal information and there is nothing I can do about it.”

Brace and other government employees in a dozen categories had thought their home addresses were protected by  a law limiting access to that information under the FOI law. But a Superior Court judge ruled last year that municipal data such as land and voting records can’t be kept secret.

Now a legislative committee is considering a bill to conform the FOI law to that ruling, an action that has town clerks and the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission on one side and the protected employees on the other.

The rest of the article talks about both sides reasoning for supporting or opposing the bill. The town clerks argue that keeping the addresses confidential would be burdensome. Public safety officials, on the other hand, worry about more than just their own safety. Apparently some inmates are filing spurious liens to make it harder for public safety officials to sell their homes.

Seems like this issue will keep coming up until the legislature makes a decision one way or the other.  Last March I wrote on the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association police efforts to close this privacy loophole.  I’m penciling in another post for March 2011.

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