FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Edward G. Boman,
against Docket #FIC 90-79
Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA),
Respondent(s) January 23, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 12 and October 11, 1990, at which times the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 90-127 was consolidated for hearing with the above-captioned matter.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. The complainant filed his letter of complaint with the Commission on February 28, 1990.
3. It is found that by letter hand-delivered on January 18, 1990, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with a copy of the agenda, minutes, record of votes, and all tape recordings made for the respondent's personnel committee meetings and executive sessions held on January 9, 1990 and January 16, 1990.
4. It is found that the respondent held a personnel committee meeting on January 9, 1990 (hereinafter "January 9th meeting.")
5. It is found that by letter dated February 13, 1990, the respondent informed the complainant that the January 9th meeting:
Docket #FIC 90-79 Page 2
(a) was not a public meeting for purposes of application of either the executive session provisions or the open meeting requirements of the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), but was convened pursuant to section 9 of the CRRA code of ethics (hereinafter "code") to investigate an allegation that the complainant violated the code;
(b) was held without convening an executive session, recording votes, making a tape recording or preparing minutes; and
(c) the agenda for the meeting was the complaint of an ethics violation which had been provided to the complainant.
6. It is found that 1-21(a), G.S., states in relevant part that: "[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subsection (e) of section 1-18a, shall be open to the public. . . ."
7. It is concluded that the respondent's internal document referenced in paragraph 5(a) of the findings, above, does not govern this matter. In the absence of state statute, an agency's internal code does not supersede the FOIA. Furthermore, neither the respondent nor the complainant may by mandate or directive abrogate the public's right of access to either public documents or public meetings.
8. It is found that although the respondent acted to protect the confidentiality and privacy rights of the complainant, the January 9th meeting was a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b) and 1-21, G.S.
9. It is found that the complainant was an employee of the respondent from approximately January 1, 1988 through September 23, 1988, and thereafter became a consultant to the respondent.
10. It is found that at the time of the January 9th meeting the complainant was not an employee of the respondent.
11. It is concluded that any discussion concerning the performance of the complainant fell outside of the scope of 1-18a(e), G.S.
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12. It is found that by letter dated December 19, 1989 the respondent notified the complainant that a complaint of an ethical violation had been made against him and an investigation into the allegation would commence with the January 9th meeting to which the complainant was invited.
13. It is found that the respondent failed to post notice of the January 9th meeting and to specify the business to be transacted at that meeting as required by 1-21(a), G.S.
14. It is found that by letter dated June 8, 1990, the respondent's attorney notified the complainant's attorney that a set of "strictly confidential" minutes did exist for the January 9th meeting and enclosed a copy of those minutes with the letter.
15. It is concluded that the minutes of the respondent's January 9th meeting are public records, as defined by 1-18a(d), G.S.
16. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with prompt access to the minutes for the January 9th meeting.
17. It is further concluded that the respondent wrongfully denied the public access to its January 9th meeting by failing to post notice of the meeting and make a timely filing of the minutes for the meeting as required by 1-21(a), G.S.
18. It is found that a personnel committee meeting was held by the respondent on January 16, 1990 (hereinafter "January 16th meeting.")
19. It is found that the January 16th meeting was a public meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b) and 1-21, G.S.
20. It is found that by letter dated February 13, 1990, the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of the minutes and agenda for the January 16th meeting, and informed the complainant that there was no executive session, no votes taken and therefore none recorded, and no tape recording made for that meeting.
21. It is found that no executive session was convened by the respondent at the January 16th meeting.
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22. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with prompt access to the minutes and agenda of the January 16th meeting.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended
on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondents shall act in strict compliance with the disclosure requirements for public records, as clearly set forth in 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
2. Henceforth, the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the open meetings provisions of 1-21, G.S.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 23, 1991.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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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:
EDWARD G. BOMAN
c/o Thomas J. Weihing, Esq.
Daly, Weihing, Bochanis & Bodell
1115 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
CONNECTICUT RESOURCES RECOVERY AUTHORITY
c/o Lissa J. Paris, Esq.
Jeffrey L. Fisher, Esq.
Murtha, Cullina, Richter & Pinney
CityPlace I - P.O. Box 3197
Hartford, CT 06103-0197
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission