FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Beth V. Denton,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑224

 

City of West Haven Offshore Feasibility Advisory Committee,

 

Respondent November 9, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 2, 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. The respondent held a regular meeting on May 19, 1988, the agenda for which included the items "public information session," "new business ‑ correspondence," and "old business ‑ reports of sub‑committees."

 

3. At its May 19, 1988 meeting, the respondent took the following votes:

 

a. To accept the resignations of two committee members;

 

b. To not replace the resigning members and "to remove the names of those people who consistently do not attend meetings;" and

 

c. To take a poll of the citizens in West Haven "to see what (they) would like in the City of West Haven."

 

4. At the May 19, 1988 meeting the respondent also discussed contacting the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental Protection "to find out what is permissible in harbor."

 

Docket #FIC 88‑224 Page Two

 

5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on June 14, 1988 the complainant alleged that at its May 19, 1988 meeting the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act when it failed to vote to amend the agenda of the meeting to include discussion of the matters referred to at paragraphs 3 and 4, above.

 

6. The complainant also alleged that the respondent improperly reduced its public information session from the usual 30 minutes to 10 minutes.

 

7. In her letter of complaint the complainant raised several issues which did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Commission, which issues were abandoned at the time of hearing. At hearing, the complainant raised additional issues concerning the May 19, 1988 meeting which had not been fairly raised in her complaint and will not be considered in this report.

 

8. At hearing the complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent, pursuant to 1‑21i(b), G.S., that the votes taken at the May 19, 1988 meeting be declared null and void and that the respondent be ordered to attend a workshop to educate its members concerning the Freedom of Information Act.

 

9. It is found that the agenda prepared by the respondent for its May 19, 1988 meeting gave no notice to the public that any of the matters referred to at paragraphs 3 and 4, above, would be discussed or acted upon.

 

10. It is also found that the respondent failed to vote to consider and act upon business not included in the agenda of the meeting, within the meaning of 1‑21(a), G.S.

 

11. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1‑21(a), G.S. when it discussed and acted upon the matters referred to at paragraphs 3 and 4, above, without having voted to take up such non‑agenda matters.

 

12. The Commission declines, however, to impose a civil penalty against the respondent or to declare null and void the actions taken by the respondent at its May 19, 1988 meeting.

 

13. It is found that the respondent's reduction of its public information session from 30 minutes to 10 minutes did not violate any provision of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

14. Based solely upon those allegations properly raised by the complainant in her complaint and the violation found, the Commission declines to order the respondent to attend a workshop, as requested by the complainant.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑224 Page Three

 

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

 

1.     The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1‑21(a), G.S., regarding discussion of or action upon non‑agenda items.

 

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

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission