NORWALK, Conn. — It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is: Your government of the people, by the people and for the people is increasingly trying to keep things from you.
In private business, this does not happen. The people who pay the freight would not and do not stand for a manager telling them “this is none of your business.” That manager would be headed out the door in 15 minutes, carrying a box or a trash bag full of his or her personal possessions.
You, the taxpayers, are the people paying your government officials and all its employees, from the president down to the City Hall janitor. Your payroll is huge, and you give great benefits, and, in return, you are frequently told “sorry, we can’t release that information.”
Sometimes the government simply cannot release “that” information, such as in true matters of national security that could compromise the lives and liberty of those defending the nation.
But what about locally? What about when the taxpayers need to know about the city and school employees? How are they doing? How are they performing? What are their qualifications for their positions? You have a right to know, so you can make informed decisions come time to vote for your city leaders who are responsible for hiring and appointing those people about whom you are inquiring.
And while Norwalk is more difficult in this manner than other cities and towns we have covered, the problem is growing across the country. The Associated Press offered this feature Saturday, March 15, that shows a nationwide trend toward governments trying to keep information from your prying eyes.
Fighting to pry information loose costs money. It ranges from having to pay for documents released by the city to paying for the time spent researching the documents to paying to go to Hartford for a hearing on complaints filed with the Freedom of Information Commission for non-compliance to filing suits against the government when all else fails. But getting you information is what we do.
To help ensure you can continue to get help in pulling back the curtain on Norwalk’s government, please consider donating today. Go to the donation box near the top of the page, or send a check to NancyOnNorwalk, P.O. Box 64, Norwalk, CT 06856.
It’s Sunshine Week, a time to call attention to the public’s right to the freedom of information. Mayor Harry Rilling will recognize Sunshine Week this afternoon (Monday).