People, there is a war going on against sunshine and clean government laws. It's coming on the heels of a 5th District congressional race marred by multiple scandals tainting both Democrats and Republicans. We ought to be screaming for tougher rules and mass resignations. Instead, we're watching calmly as they try to weaken the laws that bring their crimes to our attention.
The current crop of Connecticut's leaders doesn't want you to know stuff. They don't want journalists finding out stuff, and they don't want you snooping around on your own.
Here are some bills the Connecticut legislature considered this year:
•To exempt pardon records from the Freedom of Information Law.
•To restrict public access to all death certificates.
•To charge the public $16 to inspect any police report.
•To change the definition of a "meeting" so that political leaders can meet in secret more easily.
These were preceded by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal to place the state watchdog agencies — which keep an eye on government ethics and freedom of information — more directly under the control of the very people the watchdogs are supposed to be sniffing at.
And these were followed by the secret efforts of Malloy, legislative leaders and criminal justice officials to lock down many of the public records connected to the Newtown shooting. Notice that this was a double secret maneuver. The officials worked in secret to make something else secret.
It's as if, after "Rosemary's Baby," we all decided the solution to satanic covens was to keep Roman Polanski from making movies about them.
This is none too surprising after the recent trial of Robert Braddock, finance director of the congressional campaign of former Speaker Chris Donovan. Braddock's trial exposed a state Capitol soaked in cynical acceptance of whorish practices, especially the use of campaign contributions to kill a bill.
Remember the moment in the FBI surveillance records when that one legislator said he absolutely refused to be part of any "pay for play" effort to fix that bill? Remember when that one lawmaker who said, "We don't do that kind of thing here, and I have to report this whole conversation to the cops." No? That's because it never happened.
How about the lawmakers currently demanding the resignation of two House leaders recorded by the FBI? Have you heard about them? That's because they don't exist either. House majority and minority leaders Joe Aresimowicz and Larry Cafero are safe, even though the tapes show each guy knew money was flying around to get that bill killed.
The real problem is you. You don't care. The number of people who care about sunshine laws and clean government in Connecticut has shrunk down to about 30 journalists and four nerds from Common Cause.
And the guys in office, they're not all that afraid of us anymore because they sense we lack the capacity to get you riled up about these issues.
The only way people get angry is on a strictly partisan basis. I can practically recite the Internet comments I'll get on this column. "It's the Dems. Typical Dem corruption!" "Oh yeah, what about Rowland?"
And I want to say, "This is not a partisan thing. They're all playing the same game, where money from a few trumps the will of the many. It's not a broken party. It's a broken system. The side that seizes control gets to use the pinball flippers the most, and we've seen each side do it."
Let me share a quote: "secrecy in government is inherently inconsistent with a true democracy … the people do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them … the people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for them to know."
You know where that's from? That's the 1975 state Freedom of Information law. That's your law. It was passed by better legislators and a better governor right after Watergate scared everybody. Again: That's your law. That's the law they're taking away from you, a little at a time, like sharks chewing up a boat until there's no place left to sit.
Then they'll pass more laws against watching the sharks.