FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Richard F. Massaro,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-79

 

Board of Fire Commissioners of Allingtown Fire District,

 

Respondent May 14, 1986

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 14, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. On February 27, 1986 the complainant, a member of the Allingtown fire department, was involved in an altercation with the assistant fire chief. On February 28, 1986 the respondent held a special meeting to review the conduct of the parties involved. A hearing was held, attended by the complainant and several union representatives, following which the respondent met in closed session to deliberate.

 

3. On March 6, 1986 counsel for the complainant made a request of the respondent for minutes of the respondent's meetings of February 28, 1986 and March 4, 1986.

 

4. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on March 27, 1986 the complainant alleged that the respondent had failed to provide the requested minutes. Following a discussion between the parties at hearing, the complainant agreed not to pursue allegations in his complaint regarding access to and the contents of the minutes of the respondent's March 4, 1986 meeting.

 

5. On or about March 24, 1986 the complainant was given a copy of a tape recording of the portion of the meeting that had been attended by him and his union representatives. Such tape, however, did not satisfy the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S. regarding the recording of votes and creation of minutes of meetings of public agencies.

 

Docket #FIC 86-79 Page Two

 

6. Minutes of the February 28, 1986 meeting were prepared on April 11, 1986 from handwritten notes taken by one of the members of the respondent at the meeting. The complainant was given a copy of such minutes at hearing.

 

7. The respondent claims that the delay in the preparation of minutes of the February 28, 1986 meeting was due to the fact that the respondent had no clerk to take the minutes.

 

8. The respondent's claim is without merit, however, because the notes from which the minutes were prepared were created at the February 28, 1986 meeting and could have been made available to the complainant at any time, since nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires that minutes be typewritten. Furthermore, the minutes that were finally created were typed not by a clerk but by the same member of the respondent who originally took the notes.

 

9. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a) when it failed to produce and make available for public inspection minutes of its February 28, 1986 meeting within seven days of such meeting, excluding weekends and holidays.

 

10. It is further concluded that the respondent violated 1-15, G.S. when it failed to provide the complainant with a copy of the minutes of the February 28, 1986 meeting promptly following their creation.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.

 

1. Henceforth the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21(a) regarding the creation of minutes of meetings of public agencies.

 

2. Henceforth the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15, G.S. regarding prompt access to copies of public records.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of May 14, 1986.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission