FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Melvin Eisenhandler,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-304

 

Milford Local Allocation Council,

 

Respondent February 25, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 1, 1986, and January 12, 1987, at which times the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on November 6, 1986, the complainant alleged that the respondent held an unnoticed meeting on October 29, 1986 and that no agenda was posted or minutes filed for the meeting in question, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

3. At the hearing before the Commission, the respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the complainant is not a person as defined by 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

4. Section 1-18a(c), G.S., defines a person as "any natural person, partnership, corporation, association or society."

 

5. It is found that the complainant is a "person" as defined by 1-18a(c), G.S.

 

6. The respondent's motion is therefore denied.

 

Docket #FIC 86-304 Page 2

 

7. The respondent claims that because the local allocation council was created by an act of the general assembly, the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act apply to it in the same manner that the Act applies to the general assembly.

 

8. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides that the general assembly does not have to file a schedule of regular meetings for the ensuing year with the secretary of state, nor file an agenda for its regular meetings.

 

9. It is found, however, that the unqualified applicability of the Freedom of Information Act to the respondent was considered when the legislature adopted the act. As stated by Representative Frankel:

 

. . . If you look at the freedom of information act, you will find out that each of these allocation boards of which there are going to be dozens and dozens of them, with only two members are all going to have to maintain and keep on file records. They are going to have to see to it that records are available. They are going to have to see to it that the public can inspect these records. They are going to have to, if you will, have meetings in accordance with 121. . . . . They are immediately going to have to make a filing with the local town as to when their meetings are. . . 29 H.R. Proc., Pt. 25, 1986 Sess., pp. 248-50; see also the remarks of Representative Jaekle.

 

10. It is found that the respondent has failed to prove its claim that its meetings are proceedings of the general assembly.

 

11. It is concluded that 1-21(a), G.S., applies to the respondent as it does to all public agencies, except as it pertains to the general assembly.

 

12. It is found that the respondent is composed of four members: Senator Thomas Scott, Mrs. Margaret Casey, Representative Gerald Patton and Representative Raymond Collins.

 

13. It is further found that the respondent held a meeting on October 29, 1986, to discuss and vote on a resolution that had been submitted by the Milford board of aldermen, concerning the disposition of the town improvement plan.

 

Docket #FIC 86-304 Page 3

 

14. It is found that the respondent did prepare an agenda for the meeting in question. However, it was not available to the public and was not filed twenty-four hours before the meeting in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

15. It is found that the respondent voted to reject the resolution that had been submitted by the board of aldermen at its October 29, 1986 meeting.

 

16. It is also found that the respondent failed to file minutes of its October 29, 1986 meeting and did not record the votes of each member in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

17. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to provide notice of and file minutes for its October 29, 1986 meeting and by failing to record the votes of each member.

 

18. The Commission notes the well-intentioned actions of the respondent concerning the scheduling and the keeping of records for the meeting in question. However, such actions are futile when the records are not accessible to the people it serves.

 

19. Under the circumstances of this case, the Commission declines to declare the October 29, 1986 vote to reject the resolution null and void.

 

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 conduct its meetings in conformance with the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 25, 1987.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission