FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Alan C. Schmoll and Richard Cicciari,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 87-131 and #FIC 87-113

 

Paul Bassett, James McKeon, Thomas Gallagher and James Couzens of the Town of Hamden Legislative Council and the Town of Hamden Legislative Council,

 

Respondents July 8, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was scheduled for hearing on May 11, 1987, at which time the parties appeared and presented evidence and argument on the complaint. The cases were consolidated with the agreement of the parties, because of the similarity of the complaints.

 

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

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letters of complaint filed with the Commission April 27, 1987, and April 15, 1987, the complainants, Alan C. Schmoll and Richard Cicciari, alleged that the respondents had circumvented the Freedom of Information Act by calling an emergency meeting for April 13, 1987 on a matter that was not an emergency.

 

3. The complainants requested that the action taken at the meeting, the election of Kevin Lawlor to fill the fifth district vacancy, be declared null and void.

 

Docket #FIC 87-131 & 87-113 page two

 

4. The respondents claimed that the meeting was proper as an emergency meeting because the fifth district would be unrepresented in the budget deliberations, which were scheduled to begin that evening.

 

5. A meeting to elect the representative of the fifth district had been scheduled for April 23, 1987 by the president of the council.

 

6. The deliberation on the town budget, which the legislative council was about to begin, would take place over several weeks in the evening.

 

7. The clerk of the respondent delayed the posting of the notice for the April 13, 1987 meeting because she believed the meeting was illegal.

 

8. At about 10:00 a.m. Monday, April 13, 1987, at the request of the four named respondents, a notice for the emergency meeting for the purpose of filling the vacancy for the fifth district was posted.

 

9. The meeting was held at approximately 8:20 p.m., Monday, April 13, 1987, in lieu of a deliberative meeting on the budget.

 

10. It is found that the April 13, 1987 meeting was not a legal special meeting pursuant to 1-21, G.S., because the respondents failed to post a notice twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting at which the fifth district representative was appointed.

 

11. It is found that the voters of the fifth district are represented by the at-large members of the legislative council.

 

12. It is found that occasional absences of members of the council from the deliberative sessions on the budget are commonplace.

 

13. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents failed to prove that the April 13, 1987 meeting was an emergency meeting because there was no compelling necessity which required that the vacancy be filled that night.

 

14. It is found that the delay which was created by the unwillingness of the clerk of the legislative council to post notice for the meeting on Friday, April 10, 1987, does not excuse the respondent from complying with the notice requirements for a special meeting.

 

Docket #FIC 87-131 & 87-113 page three

 

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

 

1. All votes taken at the April 13, 1987 meeting are hereby declared null and void.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 8, 1987.

 

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission