Transparency News 8/2/18



August 2, 2018


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


state & local news stories


Four of Rep. Scott Taylor’s paid campaign workers gathered more than half the signatures needed to assure Shaun Brown a spot on the November ballot as she faced charges of defrauding the federal government. Taylor’s four paid staff gathered more than 570 of the 1,000 signatures Brown needed to get on the ballot, in a Friday and Saturday blitz just before the June 12 deadline to file, according to state Department of Elections records. The staff members’ efforts were first reported by WHRV-FM radio, which obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act request and published them on its website.
Daily Press

Amazon has already helped reshape the retail landscape for books, clothes and groceries. Now the online retail giant is moving into local government procurement. This new business venture is raising concerns that cities, school districts and counties will end up spending more money than they have to on supplies. Early last year, Amazon contracted with the Prince William County School District in Virginia and by extension earned a contract with U.S. Communities, a purchasing group with public-sector members in all 50 states. More than 1,500 public agencies have since signed on to buy products through Amazon Business, the B2B counterpart to the company's popular Prime service. While Amazon and U.S. Communities have touted their partnership as a cost-saver for public agencies and a boon for suppliers, a new report finds that Amazon Business does not always deliver the savings it promises.


stories of national interest

A Connecticut Superior Court judge refused to suspend the Freedom of Information Act in part of New Haven — despite the efforts of a lawyer representing cops who were passed over for promotions. At the end of a half-hour hearing Monday in a sixth-floor courtroom at 235 Church St., the judge, W. Glen Pierson, turned down lawyer Patricia Cofrancesco’s motion for a protective order that would have put strict limits on what information the city could make public about her clients over the course of the case. Cofrancesco represents six New Haven cops who are suing the city for allegedly violating department protocol when it failed to promote the officers to sergeant and lieutenant positions back in 2015. The police department’s promotional practices were not yet at issue during a hearing in court on Monday. Rather, the judge listened to Cofrancesco and defense lawyer Nicole Chomiak, who is representing the city in this case, argue the merits of Confrancesco’s July 5 motion for a protective order against the city because of the Police Department’s compliance with 2015 Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the Independent and from WTNH.
New Haven Independent

In the more than five years since a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has used his Infowars media operation to spread false theories that the massacre was a hoax staged by the government in an effort to tighten restrictions over firearms. That is not in dispute. But in a courtroom hearing here, lawyers for the parents of a child killed at Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Conn. — where 20 first graders and six adults were shot and killed in December 2012 — and lawyers for Mr. Jones argued on Wednesday over whether he was maligning the family or the mainstream news media in an April 2017 broadcast titled, “Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed.” The hearing Wednesday was the first in three defamation cases to reach a courtroom. Among the thornier questions it raises: Does speaking publicly about the killing of a child turn the child’s parents into public figures, making it more difficult to win their case?
The New York Times