On January 25, the state Freedom of Information Commission unanimously approved its executive director’s request to deny hearing two complaints, the latest in a long series from two Weston frequent filers.
At issue were two complaints. One, according to FOIC Executive Director Colleen Murphy is simply “not at all clear.” The other, she said, is a duplicate of a complaint already fully adjudicated and dismissed.
Attorney Murphy said granting the hearings to Gregg and Jenn Haythorn would “constitute an abuse of the Commission’s administrative process” and “perpetrate an injustice,” given the 22 complaints already filed, 13 hearings already held, and “voluminous records” already demanded.
In a brief opening statement, Ms. Murphy noted that written arguments submitted by Mr. and Ms. Haythorn ignored requirements, had berated the Commission, and alleged bias.
The argument submitted by Mr. and Ms. Haythorn was a 73-page jumble that repeated previous claims, contained facsimiles of records already in evidence, and included testimonials from Weston residents.
It began with a lengthy statement apparently intended to influence people by insulting them, beginning with an allegation that the executive director’s action served to “expose the pervasive pro-government/public agency prejudice of this commission.”
It continued by saying the request to deny hearings reflected “obvious bias,” that the outcome was “likely a pre-orchestrated foregone conclusion,” and that the entire process was a “disgrace and shame” and “a purposeful miscarriage of justice.”
Then came the baseless allegation that officials of the Commission “clearly engaged in undisclosed settlement discussions and agreements” with the Town, a bit of intrigue “planned since at least January of 2022.”
This was evident, according to Mr. and Ms. Haythorn, by their having received “100s of requested records in 30 email batches” shortly before being informed that hearings on the two complaints may be denied.
Many of the testimonials submitted by residents were boilerplate. Others commented on specific issues in town, particularly the possibility of significant bonding for school construction, a matter to be decided quite some time from now. But matters of politics and policy are well outside the Commission’s scope.
Others seemed to cast the Commission’s decision as a matter of free speech, though it is hard to see how that is the case. The decision does not inhibit Mr. and Ms. Haythorn, or anyone, from continuing to express their opinions on social media or anywhere else. Nor does it prevent them, or anyone, from continuing to request documents. It does take off the table hearings for two complaints found to be without merit.
Speaking of their supporters, Mr. and Ms. Haythorn wrote, “should our requests for hearing be denied, technically, they can file their own complaints, or refile ours as proxies.”
Among the supporters was Selectwoman Amy Jenner, who wrote, “I have come to rely on Jennifer and Gregg Haythorn’s public posting to local social media of official Weston government and school public records” because “I don’t have the time to invest to watch every meeting nor do I have the history necessary to tie these long-standing issues together.”
Harry Falber, once a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, wrote, “The Haythorne’s [sic] are doing us a favor. Keeping us free from what led to January 6th.” He adds: “We are forced into decisions by a small cohort of politically motivated individuals.”
According to Mr. Falber, “the same political town committee has used town employees to attack the character of a selectperson.” He offered no evidence for that allegation.
It appears, at least to us, that Mr. Falber’s “small cohort” and “political town committee” are references to Weston’s Democratic Town Committee, which declined to nominate him for reelection to P&Z in 2021. Apparently there had been issues.
He writes that the committee “has utilized the online town newspaper to inflict further libelous damage” on the unnamed “selectperson.” This allegation seems to refer to Weston Today’s reporting on ethics complaints lodged against Ms. Jenner.
Mr. Falber’s insinuation is false.
In conclusion, Mr. Falber wrote, “I only ask the Commission to recognize that together you stand between our community and anarchy.”
Another supporter and potential proxy, Kristine Lemmis, expressed a similar point of view. “I would go as far as saying stopping the Haythorns is nothing short of treason,” she wrote.
In every fully adjudicated records case, the Commission has determined that the Town of Weston and Public School District have complied with Mr. and Ms. Haythorn’s records demands. The same is true for a parallel complaint they filed against Representative Anne Hughes.
One records case, still not fully adjudicated, also came before the Commission on January 25. A hearing had been held several months ago.
The complaint had to do with the budget in 2020, the year a town budget meeting and referendum could not be held due to Covid-19 restrictions. Mr. and Ms. Haythorn had filed several records demands from a number of officials, and eventually alleged that the Town had not complied.
In a complex report with more than a dozen findings and conclusions, the hearing officer either dispensed with or found in favor of the Town in all but one instance.
The exception was a finding that the Town had failed to prove that each member of the Board of Finance had conducted a thorough search for emails deleted in 2020.
On the 25th, Attorney Nicholas Bamonte, representing the Town, contested that conclusion, contending that proof had been provided, pointing to testimony given over the hearing’s three separate, convoluted sessions.
The Commission decided to remand the matter back to the hearing officer for another go at that specific issue, either by holding a fourth session or accepting affidavits.
In 2020, by order of the governor, the Board of Finance was charged with adopting a budget on its own after receiving public input, which was gathered by email.
Mr. and Ms. Haythorn have long propagated a narrative that the Board of Finance had conducted a fake election, all because a Board of Finance member tallied up the emails sent in favor of, against, and neutral about the proposed budget. She had commented that the percentages were similar to the outcomes of actual referenda in years past. (We had already noted the same resemblance.)
We debunked the allegation a year and a half ago.
Mr. and Ms. Haythorn also filed a complaint about the election that never happened with the State Election Enforcement Commission. (They actually filed it twice, deliberately erring the first time.) The complaint was dismissed.
January 24, 2023: Freedom of Information Director Says “Enough”
January 19, 2022: Election Complaint Dismissed, “No Factual Basis”
June 18, 2021: Costs to Taxpayers of Document Demands and Complaints Rise