FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Adelaide S. Merchant,
against Docket #FIC 90-77
Mayor of the Town of Ledyard, Ledyard Town Council and Town of Ledyard Users Committee,
Respondent February 13, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 11, 1990, 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. The respondents Mayor and Town Council are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated February 26, 1990 and filed with the Commission on February 28, 1990, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent Users Committee conducted a secret or unnoticed meeting on January 25, 1990 or other times, and that the Mayor had denied the complainant's requests for the Users Committee's notices, agendas, minutes and records of votes.
3. Although the complainant named the Ledyard Town Council as a respondent in her complaint, she alleged no violations of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by the Town Council.
4. It is found that the respondent Users Committee was established by the Mayor.
5. It is found that the Users Committee consists of the chief dispatcher and representatives of town departments that use the dispatch center, i.e., the fire chiefs, the police chief, the civil preparedness director, and the head of the volunteer ambulance service.
6. It is found that the Mayor named the chief dispatcher to the Users Committee, and that the remaining members were selected by their respective departments.
Docket #FIC 90-77 Page 2
7. It is found that the purpose of the Users Committee is to advise and recommend to the Mayor new or updated operating procedures for the dispatch center.
8. It is found that, with respect to operating procedures, the Users Committee succeeded to the duties of the Ledyard Dispatch Activation Committee, previously created by the Town Council.
9. It is also found that the membership of the Users Committee is substantially the same as that of the Dispatch Activation Committee.
10. It is concluded that the Users Committee is a board created and designated jointly by the responsible town agencies, pursuant to legislative direction, to establish a continuing advisory process for the establishment and updating of dispatch operating procedures.
11. It is also concluded that the Users Committee forms a significant part of the interdepartmental system of dispatching of emergency services.
12. It is therefore concluded that the Users Committee operates as a multi-member public agency that conducts a portion of the public's business as it relates to emergency dispatching.
13. The respondent Mayor maintains that the meetings of the committee were staff meetings of a single-member public agency, i.e., her office, and therefore were not meetings subject to the provisions of the FOI Act by virtue of 1-18a(b).
14. It is found that, although the composition of the Users Committee is not fixed by law, it comprises the assigned personnel from the staffs of several town agencies that jointly determine its membership.
15. It is found that when a quorum of the Users Committee meets, it does so to discuss or act upon matters over which it has advisory power.
16. It is found that the Users Committee meets at the request of its members or the chief dispatcher.
17. It is concluded that the meetings of the Users Committee are not meetings of a single-member public agency.
18. It is found that the Users Committee failed to prove that it filed notice of its January 25, 1990 meeting.
19. It is found that the complainant learned of the January 25, 1990 meeting on or after February 8, 1990.
Docket #FIC 90-77 Page 3
20. It is found that, although the Users Committee meetings were generally open to the public, the committee's internally distributed meeting notice of January 25, 1990 did not describe the business to be transacted, and the committee does not maintain minutes.
21. It is concluded that the Users Committee violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to maintain minutes of its meetings and by failing to file notice of its January 25, 1990 meeting.
22. It is also found that, although the complainant's job performance was discussed at its January 25 meeting, no action was taken by the committee.
23. It is found that the complainant by letter dated February 14, 1990 requested from the Mayor copies of the meeting notices, agendas, minutes and records of votes of the Users Committee.
24. It is found that the Mayor by letter dated February 20, 1990 provided copies of the requested notices.
25. It is found that the other requested records do not exist.
26. It is concluded that the Mayor did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.
27. The Commission notes that it does not wish to burden any agency, especially small ones such as the Users Committee, with additional administrative duties such as the maintenance of minutes and the filing of meeting notices with the town clerk. In this case, however, the additional obligations imposed are critical to effectuating the policy of open government embodies in the FOI Act.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent Users Committee shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.
2. The complaint is dismissed with respect to the Ledyard Town Council and the Mayor.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 13, 1991.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 90-77 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:
ADELAIDE S. MERCHANT
13 Allyn Lane
Gales Ferry, CT 06335
MAYOR OF THE TOWN OF LEDYARD, LEDYARD TOWN COUNCIL AND TOWN OF LEDYARD USERS COMMITTEE
c/o Thomas B. Wilson, Esq.
Suisman, Shapiro, Wool, Brennan & Gray, P.C.
One Mariner Square
P.O. Box 1591
New London, CT 06320
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission