FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

John P. Ambrogio,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-188

 

President, Legislative Council of Hamden and Legislative Council of Hamden,

 

Respondents September 28, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 7, 1988, 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 dated May 18, 1988, the complainant requested copies of notices, agendas, records of votes, and minutes of the respondent council's budget deliberation meetings.

 

3. By letter dated May 20, 1988, the respondent president informed the complainant that he should make his request, in person, to his administrative assistant.

 

4. By letter of complaint dated May 23, 1988 and filed with the Commission on May 24, 1988, the complainant alleged that he was denied access to public records.

 

5. The complainant requested that the respondent council's vote to eliminate 3 detective positions from the police department's budget be declared null and void if the requested records did not exist or if the council had not complied with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

6. On July 5, 1988, the respondents provided the complainant with copies of certain records, including the respondent council's 1988-1989 schedule of budget deliberation meetings and the minutes of the council's 1988-1989 budget deliberation meetings.

 

Docket #FIC 88-188 Page 2

 

7. At the hearing, the complainant alleged that the respondents failed to provide him with copies of notices, agendas, and records of votes of the respondent council's May 2 and May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meetings. He claimed that the May 2 and May 9, 1988 meetings were unnoticed meetings and requested the actions taken at them be declared null and void.

 

8. The respondents claim that they have provided the complainant with copies of all of the requested records and have complied with his request.

 

9. The respondents contend that the complainant did not fairly raise the respondent council's failure to provide notice of its May 2 and May 9, 1988 meetings in his letter of complaint and that a null and void order by the Commission would be inappropriate.

 

10. It is found that pursuant to 1-15, G.S., any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

 

11. It is found that requiring the complainant to request copies of public records, in person, of the respondent president's administrative assistant places an unauthorized precondition on access to public records, in violation of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

12. The Commission notes that when the respondent president receives a request for public records, it is his responsibility to forward the request to the appropriate member of his staff.

 

13. It is found that the complainant received copies of the records described in paragraph 6, above, approximately six weeks after he initially made his request.

 

14. It therefore is concluded that the respondents failed to provide the complainant with prompt access to the requested records within the meaning of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

15. It is found that the respondent council's May 2 and May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meetings are special meetings and that no notices of these meetings exist.

 

16. With respect to the claim that the respondent council held unnoticed budget deliberation meetings on May 2 and May 9, 1988, it is found that the complainant did not fairly raise that issue in his letter of complaint.

 

Docket #FIC 88-188 Page 3

 

17. The Commission, therefore, declines to address the alleged illegalities regarding the respondent council's May 2 and May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meetings.

 

18. With respect to the complainant's request for agendas of the respondent council's May 2 and May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meetings, it is found that no such records exist.

 

19. The Commission notes that there is no requirement under 1-21(a), G.S., for filing agendas of special meetings.

 

20. It is found that the minutes of the respondent council's May 2 and May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meetings, which were provided to the complainant on July 5, 1988, were made available to the public within 48 hours of each meeting.

 

21. It is found to the extent that the minutes described in paragraph 20, above, reflect the votes taken at the May 2 and May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meetings, they may serve as the records of votes within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

22. It also is found that at its May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meeting, the respondent council denied a motion to reconsider and to reinstate 3 detective positions eliminated from the police department's budget.

 

23. It further is found that the minutes of the respondent council's May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meeting failed to reflect the votes taken by each council member with respect to the motion described in paragraph 22, above.

 

24. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to properly record the votes taken by each council member with respect to the motion described in paragraph 22, above.

 

25. It also is concluded that the violations set forth in paragraphs 11, 14, and 24, above, were made without reasonable grounds within the meaning of 1-21i(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 respondents forthwith shall amend the minutes of the respondent council's May 9, 1988 budget deliberation meeting to reflect the votes taken by each agency member with respect to the motion described in paragraph 22 of the findings, above.

 

Docket #FIC 88-188 Page 4

 

2. Henceforth, the respondents shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15, 1-19(a), and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

3. The following members of the respondent council are hereby ordered to appear before the Commission at a date to be determined to show cause why a civil penalty should not be imposed pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S.: Paul G. Bassett, Jean E. Blue, Samuel A. Burrell, Jr., Lillian D. Clayman, James E. Couzens, John P. Flanagan, Harry A. Gagliardi, Jr., James J. Garrahan, Craig Henrici, Michael Mauro, Robert A. Miller, Arthur E. Moan, Jr., Alan C. Schmoll, Joseph N. Velardi and Peter J. Whitman.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of September 28, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission