FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Perry Dodson,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 89-123

 

Elections Review Committee, Eighth Utilities District

 

Respondent

 

October 25, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 7, 1989, 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 and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1. By letter dated March 29, 1989, the complainant requested copies of the minutes of all the respondent's meetings, all methods of any of its surveys including polls, all written correspondence from electors and all decisions regarding the Eighth Utilities District electoral process.

 

2. By letter dated April 17, 1989 the respondent's president informed the complainant that no polls were taken, no written correspondence from electors was received, and no formal minutes were taken of meetings involving the respondent. The respondent then provided the complainant with transcribed notes of those meetings.

 

3. By letter of complaint dated and filed with the Commission on April 12, 1989, the complainant alleged that he was denied access to the requested records.

 

4. At the hearing the complainant alleged that the respondents failed to provide him with proper minutes of all its meetings.

 

5. The respondent contends that the Elections Review Committee is not a public agency pursuant to 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 89-123 Page 2

 

6. It is found that the respondent is a committee of the Eighth Utilities District, which is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18(a), G.S.

 

7. It is concluded that the respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a).

 

8. The respondent also claims that the complainant did not fairly raise the committee's failure to take proper minutes of their meetings in his letter of complaint.

 

9. It is found that the transcribed notes delivered to the complainant were not proper minutes within the meaning of 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., because the notes failed to reflect the time and place of the meeting, when each agency member arrived at the meeting, how long he remained, the business transacted, and how each member of the respondent voted on each issue.

 

10. It is also found that the respondent's decisions concerning the electoral process made in its meetings between September 7, 1988 to November 14, 1989 inclusive were indicated in the meeting notes, by terms such as "consensus", "vetoed", "strong preference", and "endorsed."

 

11. It is further found that when the use of such terms has the effect of rendering a decision for the committee, it constitutes a vote of a public agency within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

12. It is further found that when the use of such terms precludes further consideration on an issue, it constitutes a vote of a public agency within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

13. It is also found that pursuant to 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., the votes of each agency member upon any issue before the agency shall be reduced to writing and shall be made available for public inspection within 48 hours of the meetings at which the votes were taken.

 

14. It is further found that the respondent's failure to provide the complainant with proper minutes of its meetings is within the scope of the complaint.

 

15. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to complete minutes for each of its meetings between September 7, 1988 to November 14, 1988 inclusive.

 

Docket #FIC 89-123 Page 3

 

16. It is further concluded that the complainant did not receive the minutes requested in his complaint in violation of 1-15, G.S.

 

17. The Commission also notes that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to file the minutes of its meetings with the district clerk within seven business days.

 

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

 

1. To the extent possible, the respondent forthwith shall reconstruct minutes of its meetings between September 7, 1988 to November 14, 1988 inclusive, which shall reflect the time, date, and place of each meeting, the identities of the respondent's members present at the meeeting, the time when each member arrived at and departed from the meeting, the business transacted and how each member voted on each decision and recommendation.

 

2. The respondent forthwith shall both provide the complainant with these minutes and file them with the district clerk.

 

3. Henceforth, the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., regarding the recording of votes of agency members, the recording of proper minutes and the filing of these minutes within the appropiate time period.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 25, 1989.

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 89-123 Page 4

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

PERRY DODSON

c/o Kevin M. O'Brien, Esquire

O'Brien and Higgins

267 Main Street

Manchester, CT 06040

 

ELECTIONS REVIEW COMMITTEE, EIGHTH UTILITIES DISTRICT

c/o John D. LaBelle, Jr., Esquire

LaBelle & LaBelle, P.C.

295 East Center Street

P.O. Box 511

Manchester, CT 06040

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission