FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Richard Cicciari,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-187

 

Legislative Council of the Town of Hamden,

 

Respondent October 14, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 30, 1987, at which time 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 dated and filed with the Commission on July 1, 1987, the complainant alleged the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by conducting business beyond that specified in the notice for its June 5, 1987 special meeting.

 

3. Specifically, the complainant alleges the respondent held a new election at its June 5, 1987 special meeting and nominated, elected and confirmed Kevin Lawlor as fifth district councilperson, when the meeting was noticed solely to confirm the election of Kevin P. Lawlor as fifth district councilperson.

 

4. The complainant requests the Commission to declare the actions taken by the respondent at its June 5, 1987 special meeting null and void and to impose a civil penalty.

 

5. The respondent claims it confirmed the election of Kevin Lawlor as fifth district councilperson at its June 5, 1987 special meeting and therefore its actions were within the scope of the notice given for that meeting within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 87-187 Page 2

 

6. It is found the respondent elected Kevin Lawlor as fifth district councilperson at its April 13, 1987 emergency meeting.

 

7. It is noted the complainant in this case filed a complaint with the Commission, Docket #FIC 87-113, alleging the respondent impermissibly held an emergency meeting on April 13, 1987, to fill a vacancy on its council and requesting the Commission to declare the election null and void.

 

8. It also is noted on May 27, 1987, the hearing officer issued a report in Docket #FIC 87-113, recommending all votes taken at the respondent's April 13, 1987 emergency meeting be declared null and void. The Commission, however, did not adopt the hearing officer's report until July 8, 1987.

 

9. It is found the respondent held a special meeting on June 5, 1987.

 

10. It also is found the respondent noticed its June 5, 1987 special meeting for the following purpose: "to confirm the election of Kevin P. Lawlor as councilperson from the fifth district to the Hamden Legislative Council."

 

11. It further is found that at the respondent's June 5, 1987 special meeting, one of its members moved to "nominate, confirm, elect, ratify, affirm and instate Kevin Lawlor as the fifth district councilman to the Legislative Council of the Town of Hamden," and the motion passed by a majority vote.

 

12. It further is found the motion described in paragraph 11, above, was made to remedy any alleged impropriety concerning the respondent's April 13, 1987 election before the Commission rendered a final decision in Docket #FIC 87-113.

 

13. It further is found the respondent held a new election to fill the position of fifth district councilperson at its June 5, 1987 special meeting.

 

14. It therefore is concluded the respondent failed to give sufficient notice to the public of what would transpire at its June 5, 1987 special meeting in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

15. It is found, however, at the time of the respondent's June 5, 1987 special meeting, the Commission had not declared the respondent's April 13, 1987 election null and void.

 

Docket #FIC 87-187 Page 3

 

16. It also is found at the time of its June 5, 1987 special meeting, the respondent held an election to fill a position for which there was no vacancy and therefore its actions have no legal effect.

 

17. The Commission therefore declines to declare the respondent's June 5, 1987 election null and void because it was meaningless and further declines to impose a civil penalty.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall henceforth act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 14, 1987.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission