FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Sebastian J. Aresco, Kevin Earls and Middlefield Democratic Town Committee,

 

Complainants,

 

against Docket #FIC 88-155

 

First Selectman and Board of Selectmen of the Town of Middlefield,

 

Respondents September 14, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 17, 1988, at which time the complainants 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. On the evening of April 12, 1988, the following people attended a gathering in the Middlefield town administrative building: John Augeri, James Blois, Geoffrey Colegrove, Dom Feretti, Joe Lombardo, John Lyman, Len Mediavilla, Roy Smith, Frank St. John, Mike Timbro and Bill Wallett.

 

3. By letter filed with the Commission on April 25, 1988, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging the gathering was an unnoticed government meeting.

 

4. The respondents claim that there was no selectmen's meeting since it was only by chance that a quorum of the selectmen were present. The respondents also claim that there was no meeting of the architect search committee because the committee does not have authority over the matters discussed at that gathering.

 

5. It is found that the first selectman, James Blois, asked the people listed in paragraph 2, above, with the exception of John Augeri, to gather at the town administrative building to brainstorm and generate ideas on future uses of the space in the town administrative building and Center School.

 

Docket #FIC 88-155 Page Two

 

6. It is found that how the space in the town administrative building and Center School is used is a matter over which the respondent board of selectmen has supervision.

 

7. It is also found that the ideas generated at this meeting helped determine which options the respondent board presented at its meeting on April 26, 1988, to the town political committees and citizens to obtain their opinions.

 

8. It is found that the respondent board of selectmen has three members.

 

9. It is found that the first selectman attended the entire gathering in question.

 

10. It is found that the second selectman, John Augeri, was in the town administrative building that evening to sign checks, entered uninvited the room in which the gathering already had started, and attended the gathering for a significant amount of time.

 

11. It is found, therefore, that a quorum of the respondent board of selectmen assembled at the gathering.

 

12. It is concluded that the gathering constituted a meeting of the respondent board within the meeting of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

13. It is found that the respondent board failed to file a notice of this meeting with the town clerk.

 

14. Thus it is concluded that the respondent board violated 1-21(a), G.S.

 

15. It is found that the respondent board appointed an architect search committee to evaluate architects and their proposals for the space and to make recommendations to the respondent board.

 

16. Thus it is found that how the space in the town administrative building and Center School is used is a matter over which the committee has advisory power.

 

17. It is found that the architect search committee has 6 members.

 

18. It is found that 4 members of the committee attended the gathering.

 

19. It is found, therefore, that a quorum of the committee assembled at the gathering.

 

Docket #88-155 Page Three

 

20. It is concluded that the gathering constituted a meeting of the committee within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

21. It is found that the committee failed to file a notice of this meeting with the town clerk.

 

22. Thus it is concluded that this advisory committee to the respondent board violated 1-21(a), G.S.

 

23. It is found that the complainants were unable to attend the meeting because they had no notice of it.

 

24. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to hold the meeting in public.

 

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

 

1. The respondents henceforth shall act in strict compliance with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. The respondents forthwith shall schedule an educational workshop on Freedom of Information Act requirements to be given by a Commission staff attorney and to take place no later than 60 days after the mailing of the notice of the final decision in this matter.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of September 14, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission