FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Michael Willinsky,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-41

 

Portland Fire Department, Company 2, Executive Board,

 

Respondent September 11, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 6, 1991, 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter of complaint filed February 15, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that:

 

a. no notice or agenda of the respondent's January 30, 1991 meeting was posted or on file with the town clerk;

 

b. no minutes of the respondent's January 30 meeting or of any of its monthly meetings since February 13, 1990 were on file with the town clerk;

 

c. another firefighter was suspended by the respondent at its spring 1990 meeting without any notice, agenda or record of the meeting.

 

3. It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on January 30, 1991 for the purpose of considering disciplinary action against the complainant.

 

4. It is found that the respondent filed no notice of the January 30 disciplinary hearing.

 

5. It is also found that the complainant had actual notice of the January 30 disciplinary hearing.

 

Docket #FIC 91-41 Page 2

 

6. The respondent maintains that its failure to file notice of the disciplinary hearing did not transgress the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act, since the hearing was scheduled in cooperation with the complainant, the respondent's purpose was to afford the complainant as much privacy as possible, and the complainant was not prejudiced by the lack of public notice.

 

7. It is concluded that while 1-18a(e)(1) and 1-21(a), G.S., permit discussion of certain personnel matters in executive session, those sections do not affect the public notice requirements contained in 1-21(a), G.S.

 

8. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to file notice of its January 30, 1991 disciplinary hearing with the town clerk.

 

9. With respect to the allegations described in paragraph 2.b, above, it is concluded that 1-19(a), G.S., requires that the respondent's minutes be kept on file at its regular office or place of business if it has one.

 

10. It is found that the respondent's regular office or place of business is its station house, and that the minutes of its meetings are maintained there.

 

11. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., by maintaining its minutes at its station house rather than at the town clerk's office.

 

12. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.c, above, it is found that the complainant offered no evidence that the alleged spring 1990 meeting was secret or unnoticed.

 

13. It is therefore concluded that the Commission lacks jurisdiction over the claim asserted in paragraph 2.c., above, pursuant to the 30-day time limitation contained in 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

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

 

1. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.a of the findings, above, the respondent henceforth shall strictly comply with the public notice requirements contained in 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 2.b and 2.c of the findings, above, the complaint is dismissed.

 

Docket #FIC 91-41 Page 3

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 11, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC91-41 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:

MICHAEL WILLINSKY

19 Rogers Road

Portland, CT 06480

 

MICHAEL GUSTAFSON, ESQ.

Halloran & Sage

225 Asylum Street

One Goodwin Square

Hartford, CT 06103

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission