In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Beth V. Denton,




against Docket #FIC 88‑301


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. By letter dated June 21, 1988 the complainant made a request of the respondent, pursuant to 1‑21c, G.S., for notices of all meetings.


3. The respondent held a regular meeting on July 21, 1988, notice of which was mailed to the complainant on July 15, 1988. The address to which the notice was mailed did not include the complainant's house number, although the house number had been provided.


4. The complainant received notice of the respondent's July 21, 1988 meeting on or about July 19, 1988.


5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on July 22, 1988 the complainant alleged that the respondent failed to provide proper notice of the meeting, in violation of 1‑21c, G.S.


6. At hearing the complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent, pursuant to 1‑21i(b), G.S., and that the respondent be ordered to attend a workshop to educate its members concerning the Freedom of Information Act.


7.     The respondent concedes that, through an error, the notice of the July 21, 1988 meeting was not sent to the complainant in a timely manner, in violation of 1‑21c, G.S.


Docket #FIC 88‑301 Page Two


8. It is found that the respondent's failure to mail notices in a timely manner, compounded by its failure to include the complainant's house number when addressing a notice to her, indicates a regrettable lack of respect for the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.


9. It is found, however, that the fact that notices were sent at all indicates the respondent's awareness of its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act. Because the violation of 1‑21c, G.S. was the result of an error, not ignorance of the law, the Commission declines to order the respondent to attend a workshop, as requested by the complainant.


10. The Commission also declines to impose a civil penalty, as requested by the complainant.


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


1. The respondent forthwith shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1‑21c, G.S. regarding notices of meetings.


2. The Commission notes that because the complainant received notice of the respondent's July 21, 1988 meeting despite the late mailing and deficient address, the practical effect of the respondent's violation of 1‑21c, G.S. was, in this instance, minimal. The Commission cautions the respondent, however, that future violations may not only have more serious consequences, they will also subject the respondent to the possibility of civil penalties.


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