Stephen Whitaker: Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

Meet Stephen Whitaker, our 23rd Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week. Mr. Whitaker lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. He is the 2nd Connecticut resident to win this coveted and increasingly prestigious award, joining Andy Thibault..

Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

Whitaker is a computer consultant. In 2001, he sought access to the geographic information system, a municipal database with aerial photos and property information, of Greenwich. His request was denied by the town but later upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

(To be an STOTW, it helps to appeal a denial all the way to your state’s Supreme Court. And win, although winning is certainly neither necessary nor frequent.)

The City of Greenwich has been parsimonious about giving Mr. Whitaker the updates he has requested to the database, says the local newspaper.

As a result, Mr. Whitaker has filed complaints with the state’s freedom of information council. One of those complaints resulted in the state FOIC group levying a $100 fine against Jim Lash, a former member of the town’s governing body. The fine was against Lash as an individual, because the state board thought he was being “disingenuous” in his explanations about denying or slowly providing records to Whitaker.

Greenwich is now appealing that $100 fine on behalf of Mr. Lash. Mr. Lash has also questioned Whitaker’s motives, wondering why Whitaker wants the information he wants and saying:

“Mr. Whitaker has cost the town a very large amount of money for no obvious reason”.

A few thoughts from us:

  • Mr. Whitaker’s motives in seeking this information are irrelevant.
  • What is relevant is whether government officials broke the law.
  • It’s a safe bet that Greenwich has spent more money avoiding giving Mr. Whitaker records than it has ever spent giving him the public documents he requested.
  • Welcome, Mr. Whitaker, and congratulations.

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    One response to “Stephen Whitaker: Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

    1. Roger Hurlbert

      Very well deserved!

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