FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Joseph A. Galanti,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-71

 

New Fairfield Planning Commission,

 

Respondent June 8, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 14, 1988, 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 February 25, 1988, and filed with the Commission on February 29, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act at its February 20, 1988 meeting when it continued to discuss an item of business after the meeting was adjourned.

 

3. Specifically, the complainant claims that the respondent's February 20, 1988 meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m., but that seven of the respondent's eight members began discussing the "Candleridge subdivision," an item of business which had been discussed during the meeting in question, with the First Selectman.

 

4. It is found that the respondent is composed of eight members and that five members constitute a quorum.

 

5. It is found that after the meeting in question was adjourned, the First Selectman approached the table where seven of the respondent's eight members were assembled, and stated "I did not speak at the hearing because you have my correspondence on the matter."

 

Docket #FIC 88-71 Page 2

 

6. It is further found, however, that that while the discussion of the Candleridge subdivision was limited to the remark made by the First Selectman, a conversation did ensue between John Cotumaccio, chairman of the respondent, (hereinafter "chairman") and the First Selectman concerning the creation of a Blue-Ribbon Panel, whose purpose would be to address various issues concerning the Town of New Fairfield.

 

7. The First Selectman testified that the Blue-Ribbon Panel would act as a planning advisory committee concerning expenditures and other issues impacting the Town of New Fairfield.

 

8. It is found that the chairman then asked Wayne Skelly and Carmine Gioella, members of the respondent, if they wanted to serve on this panel. Mr. Gioella responded in the affimative.

 

9. It is found that although a quorum of the respondent remained after the meeting in question, at the most, three members participated in the conversation concerning the Blue-Ribbon Panel.

 

10. It is also found that neither the creation of, nor the responsibilities of the Blue-Ribbon Panel is a matter within the respondent's supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

 

11. It is therefore concluded that the discussion which took place after the respondent adjourned its February 29, 1988 meeting did not constitute a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

2. The Commission notes that although a violation was not found in the present case, the respondent should recognize that generally, a gathering of a quorum to discuss matters within an agencies control, jurisdiction or advisory power constitutes a meeting under 1-18a(b), G.S. Additionally, the respondent should be sensitive to the fact that observant citizens, such as the complainant, can draw reasonable

 

Docket #FIC 88-71 Page 3

 

inferences that such violations did occur when a quorum of the respondent remains after the meeting has been adjourned, and members participate in a discussion with another town official.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of June 8, 1988.

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission