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Friday, September 15, 2017


FOI Commission Attorney's Valecia Harmon and Tracy Brown at MARG Community Day

Usually when we think of State employees our minds almost immediately jump to a nightmare experience at DMV or some other State agency. But two agencies hardy ever get noticed, but they have great employees who are true Pubic Servants.

One is the Freedom of Information Commission. FOI is a State agency that keeps our government honest and transparent.. I received a quick indoctrination into FOI when I started this blog. At that time, my focus was Hartford City Hall and City Hall was about as transparent as a concrete wall painted black and covered by a black tarp to keep any sunlight from shining in. With the help of FOI and their employees, I quickly learned the ropes and learned how to obtain documents that were normally hidden away from public view.

Tom Hennick,  AttorneyValecia Harmon and Attorney Tracy Brown have always been extremely helpful in assisting me to find my way through what can be a complicated maze of obtaining documents, and they will probably admit that more than once I have put them through their paces in my quest to get to the truth. I think Tom Hennick still uses me as an example in his seminar's of how a government official SHOULD NOT respond when complying to a FOI request from a citizen. Former Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose responded to one of his subordinates in regards to one of my earlier FOI requests through an e-mail asking "Carl, how can I shut this asshole down?" Then Attorney Rose, being the brilliant legal mind that he is, apparently didn't notice he had copied me on the e-mail before he hit the send button.

Ahh, that is what makes Hartford the gift that keeps on giving.

But moving on, Attorney Harmon and Attorney Brown are a presence at every monthly meeting of the MARG NRZ, a community group meeting I try to attend every month. They are both there and have information in Spanish and English and will answer any and all questions regarding FOI and access to public documents. Their efforts are well above and beyond what their jobs require and they even go so far as being regular participants in the MARG NRZ Annual community Day as they were the last Sunday in August, complete with bookbags to hand out to kids getting ready for back to school , bags of popcorn and some great homemade Lemonade and grape juice mixture made by Valecia's mother.

Two other unsung State employees come from the Judicial Side of State government. Prosecutor Tom O"Brien and Chris Pleasanton put the "Community" in Community Court. They are both in attendance every month and give a report on the work of Community Court. an effort that was born out of concerns starting at the MARG NRZ to enforce quality of life issues that were often not addressed by the much busier Superior Court on Lafayette Street. Residents frequently address their concerns directly with Prosecutor O'Brien on issues such as prostitution, ATV's and other issues affecting their neighborhoods.

Judge Norko, who until recently,prior to his retirement and cut back of his hours was also a regular attendee at the meetings. Judge Norko was a unique Jurist who understood and exemplified the need for the efforts of the Community Court , and the resident's always appreciated his unique perspective and attention

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

Valicia Harmon in particular is an unsung hero, Kevin, as regards Freedom of Information requests. Every time I ask for clarification with a problematic FOI issue, she promptly gives me pointers and case law. I encourage others to contact her at the state's Office of Freedom of Information ( or contact Tracie Brown, who is a fellow Hartford resident!

And as regards Hartford's Community Court -- Chris Pleasanton has been helping our community since Day One, and Tom O'Brien wanted to bring a special drug court session to Hartford 2 years ago. He was ahead of his time. Tom saw what was being created in New Hampshire and other Eastern states but was blocked by Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy. New Haven already has a model operation and Hartford could have already had the same. Typical.

Thanks to all of you for what you TRY to do on behalf of Hartford.