Gilmore Girls festival prompts Connecticut FOIA complaint
WASHINGTON — Although a dozen “Gilmore Girls” cast members and 1,200 of the show’s fans left town Sunday, the town that inspired the show is still cleaning up a dispute with residents unhappy that the popular TV show based on Washington Depot “took over” the town last weekend.
According to the state Freedom of Information Commission, a hearing about the the town’s handling of a Freedom of Information Act request about the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest last weekend will take place in Hartford Nov. 18.
In a FOIA complaint, resident George Bartholomew says the town failed to let residents voice their dissatisfaction, only disclosed heavily redacted incomplete documentation about the festival upon request, and “stonewalled” residents who requested information.
First Selectman Mark Lyon has said town officials were not secretive, but just doing their job, andthat the town’s decision to host the event was within the purview of elected officials.
Dissatisfied residents have said that they deserved to be heard on the matter.
The complaint, dated Sept. 3, argues that the Board of Selectman was illegally secretive about the event. On Aug. 26, some residents heard about the event for the first time, the complaint says.
“The town government gave no prior indication that this event was to take place, how it was approved, the parties involved, and the safeguards that the town will take to insure private property and the personal (welfare) of its residents. At this writing, despite protests (from) dozens of residents, the town has yet (to) explain its actions,” Bartholomew wrote.
Residents who requested an opportunity to discuss the festival or requested more information were met with “arrogance and insolence,” the complaint said.
“The town of Washington needs your immediate help. We must free this information for the good of the general public immediately and then, with it in hand, conduct our own informal town meetings and bring the town government to task,” the complaint said.
Over the weekend, The News-Times reported the event had gone off without a hitch. Actors dressed in character mingled with 1,200 ticket-holding fans.
And although some residents worried visitors would overrun the town, State Police said there were no incidents and that parking was well-controlled. Local businesses said visitors were kind, appreciative and boosted sales.
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