In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECSION


Lula Walker,




against Docket #FIC 87-312


Theodore R. Coleman, Executive Director; John Gatison, Jr., Chairman; Spero Jordanides, Horace Behrle, Glenda Bryant, Vincent Malerba, Jr.; and the Ansonia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners,


Respondents March 9, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 3, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. By letter of complaint received by this Commission October 27, 1987, the complainant alleged that the respondents held an illegal telephone poll on September 30, 1987.


3. The effect of the telephone poll was that the respondents rejected a decision of a respondent housing authority fair hearing officer which was favorable to the complainant and determined to initiate eviction proceedings against the complainant.


4. The complainant requested relief in the form of a civil penalty and an order declaring the action of the respondents on September 30, 1987 null and void.


5. The decision of the hearing officer which was overturned on September 30, 1987, resolved a grievance about rental charges in favor of the complainant.


6. The decision which was overturned was issued by the fair hearing officer on September 10, 1987.


Docket #FIC 87-312 page two


7. The complainant alleged that the meeting was improperly

noticed and that minutes were not prepared in a timely fashion.


8. It is found that the September 30, 1987 telephone poll was a special meeting subject to the minutes and notice requirements of 1-21, G.S.


9. It is found that the minutes of September 30, 1987 were not available within seven days of the meeting as required by 1-21, G.S.


10. Is is found further that the meeting was not noticed as a special meeting, as is required by 1-21, G.S.


11. It is found that no provision was made by the respondents to amplify the conversation as to accommodate members of the public who desired to be present at the special meeting as required by 1-21, G.S., and more fully explained in Advisory Opinion Number 41, issued by the Commission, September 10, 1980.


12. It is found that the decision to reject the report of the hearing officer was not a proper subject for an executive session under 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.


13. It is concluded that the telephone poll violated the requirements of 1-21, G.S., because of improper notice, failure to provide for public attendance, failure to provide adequate amplification, and failure to provide minutes within seven days of the meeting.


14. It is found that, under the facts of this case, the violation of the Freedom of Information Act was without reasonable grounds.


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


1. The vote to overturn the decision of the hearing officer and to begin eviction proceedings taken on September 30, 1987, is hereby declared null and void.


2. The respondents shall arrange and attend a workshop on the Freedom of Information Act conducted by one of the Commission attorneys within one month of the date this decision is mailed.


Docket #FIC 87-312 page three


3. A civil penalty of twenty-five dollars is hereby imposed against each of the following respondents: Theodore R. Coleman, John Gatison, Jr., Spero Jordanides, Horace Behrle, Glenda Bryant and Vincent Malerba, Jr.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of March 9, 1988.




Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission