FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Sandra Clynch,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-111

 

East Windsor Elderly Commission,

 

Respondent July 27, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 16, 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. At its regular meeting of March 16, 1988, the respondent asked the complainant to refrain from tape-recording the meeting. At that time, the respondent unanimously passed a motion prohibiting the public from tape-recording its meetings.

 

3. By letter of complaint dated March 23, 1988 and filed with the Commission on March 25, 1988, the complainant alleged the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by not allowing her to tape-record its March 16, 1988 regular meeting.

 

4. By letter dated May 5, 1988 and filed with the Commission on May 11, 1988, the complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent and filed another complaint with the Commission. The complainant requested the Commission to consolidate the above-captioned case with her newly-filed complaint and a previously-filed complaint.

 

5. The Commission denied the complainant's motion to consolidate on the ground that the respondent was not provided with sufficient notice to respond to complaints other than the one scheduled for the May 16, 1988 hearing date.

 

6. At the hearing, the respondent conceded that it violated 1-21a(a), G.S., by prohibiting the public from tape-recording its meetings.

 

Docket #FIC 88-111 Page 2

 

 

7. It is found the respondent violated 1-21a(a), G.S., by prohibiting the public from tape-recording its meetings and by not allowing the complainant to tape-record its March 16, 1988 regular meeting.

 

8. It is found, however, that subsequent to its March 16, 1988 regular meeting, the respondent sought legal advice as to whether the Freedom of Information Act expressly permitted the public to tape-record its meetings.

 

9. It also is found the respondent held a workshop on freedom of information laws on April 27, 1988.

 

10. It further is found that at its May 10. 1988 meeting, the respondent declared its vote prohibiting the public from tape-recording its meetings null and void.

 

11. The Commission, under the circumstances presented, declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

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 1-21a(a), G.S., regarding the public's right to record, photograph or broadcast the meetings of a public agency.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of July 27, 1988.

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission