In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Roderick J. MacKenzie, Jr.,




against Docket #FIC 88‑380


Board of Selectmen of the Town of Newtown,


Respondent December 20, 1988


The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 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 complainant is the first selectman of the Town of Newtown and one of three members of the respondent.


3. The respondent held a meeting on September 12, 1988, the agenda for which included the items "driveway bonds" and "road work agreements."


4. Upon reaching the topic of road work agreements, Duane Baumert, a member of the respondent, stated that K. Michael Snyder, also a member of the respondent, had "a problem" with voting on the agreements.


5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on September 16, 1988 the complainant alleged that Mr. Baumert's statement indicated that he and Mr. Snyder had met to discuss agenda items, without notice to the public and in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.


6. It is found that prior to their September 12, 1988 meeting the three members of the respondent attended a legislative council meeting. The complainant left the legislative council meeting first, in order to prepare for the meeting of the respondent.


Docket #FIC 88‑380 Page Two

7. It is found that while walking together from the legislative council meeting to the meeting of the respondent, Mr. Snyder mentioned to Mr. Baumert that voting on the release of driveway bonds presented a potential conflict of interest for him because one of the property owners was a client of his insurance business.


8. It is further found that Mr. Baumert misunderstood Mr. Snyder's comment and, as a result, believed that Mr. Snyder's potential conflict related to the issue of road work agreements.


9. It is further found that when Mr. Snyder failed to react when the subject of road work agreements was reached, Mr. Baumert interjected the statement referred to at paragraph 4, above, in his behalf. Mr. Snyder, in fact, had no problem with voting on the road work agreements, but abstained from the vote on the release of his client's driveway bond.


10. It is found that Mr. Snyder's brief comment to Mr. Baumert related solely to his intention to abstain from voting, not to the substance of any issue.


11. It is further found that, while perhaps more properly confined to the context of a public meeting, Mr. Snyder's brief comment to Mr. Baumert did not constitute a discussion of or action upon the subject of either driveway bonds or road work agreements.


12. It is concluded that Mr. Snyder's brief comment to Mr. Baumert prior to the September 12, 1988 meeting of the respondent, referred to at paragraph 7, above, did not constitute a "meeting" within the meaning of 1‑18a(b), G.S. and that the making of such comment, without public notice, did not violate 1‑21(a), G.S.


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


1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 20, 1988.



Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission