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Stonington officials must attend class on complying with Freedom of Information law

Stonington - First Selectman Ed Haberek said Monday that he has scheduled a state-ordered training session to educate town officials about the requirements of the state's Freedom of Information law for April 24.

As part of its unanimous decision two weeks ago to order the town to release a union grievance filed by Zoning Enforcement Officer Joe Larkin when his job was cut to part time, the state Freedom of Information Commission said the town must schedule a training session with FOI public information officer Thomas Hennick.

The Day had filed a complaint with the commission after the town refused to release the grievance despite past rulings that such grievances are public documents. The Day also asked that town officials undergo FOI training.

In its decision, the commission also encouraged "in the strongest possible terms" that town labor attorney Michael Satti participate in the educational session because the town acted based on his advice. Satti billed the town several thousand dollars for his work on the case.

Haberek said he has made Satti aware of the session but is not sure if he will attend.

Haberek said he and Administrative Services Director Vincent Pacileo will attend the training session. He said he has also made it available to other department heads.

The town has argued it did not release Larkin's grievance because Larkin said it would violate his privacy. Doing so, it said, would put the town in legal jeopardy.

But the commission said the town provided no evidence to prove that it reasonably believed that releasing the grievance would constitute a legal invasion of privacy and no evidence that releasing the grievance was an invasion of Larkin's privacy.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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