FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Carl V. Pantaleo,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-83

 

Branford Police Commission,

 

Respondent September 25, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 10, 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 with the Commission on April 8, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that a committee of the respondent met in private in March 1991.

 

3. It is found that the representatives of the police officers' union presented a number of concerns to the respondent at its February 11, 1991 regular meeting.

 

4. It is found that two members of the respondent (the new and the outgoing chairmen) volunteered to gather with the police chief and the union representatives to address the concerns raised at the February 11 meeting.

 

5. It is found that the two members of the respondent gathered with the police chief and two union representatives sometime in March, between the February 11 meeting and the respondent's March 20, 1991 meeting.

 

6. It is found that matters over which the respondent has jurisdiction, control or supervision were discussed at the gathering, including lines of authority between the respondent and the chief of police, and disclosure of nonconfidential documents by the chief to the respondent.

 

7. It is found that a resolution was drafted by the participants at the March gathering, concerning the matters referenced in paragraph 6, above, among other things.

 

Docket #FIC 90-83 Page 2

 

8. It is found that the two members of the respondent who attended the March gathering reported to the respondent concerning the board business discussed and the resolution drafted at the March gathering.

 

9. It is found that the resolution drafted at the March gathering was adopted by the respondent at its March 20, 1991 meeting.

 

10. The respondent maintains that the March gathering was not a meeting because the two members of the respondent who attended did not constitute a quorum of the respondent, and were not formally appointed or made a committee by the respondent by any vote or motion.

 

11. It is found, however, that the two members of the respondent commission who attended the March gathering did so with the implicit approval by the respondent at its February 11 meeting, and that the agreement proposed at the March gathering was ratified by the respondent at its March 20 meeting.

 

12. It is concluded therefore that the two members of the respondent at the March gathering constituted a de facto ad hoc committee of the respondent.

 

13. It is therefore concluded that the respondent's de facto ad hoc committee was a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., and that the March gathering was a meeting of that committee.

 

14. It is also concluded that the March gathering was a step in the respondent's consideration of the matters raised at the respondent's February 11, 1991 meeting and voted on at the respondent's March 20, 1991 meeting.

 

15. It is therefore concluded that the March gathering was a proceeding of the respondent, and therefore a meeting of the respondent within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

16. It is found that the complainant learned of the March gathering on or about March 20, 1991.

 

17. It is found that the respondent neither filed notice nor made minutes of the March gathering, and that the gathering was not open to the public, all in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

18. At the hearing, the complainant requested that all actions taken at the March gathering be declared null and void.

 

19. The Commission in its discretion declines to issue a null and void order.


 

Docket #FIC 91-83 Page 3

 

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

 

1. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-18a(a), 1-18a(b), and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. The respondent shall, within 30 days of the issuance of this final decision, file minutes of the March gathering described in paragraphs 5 through 7 of the findings, above, and provide a copy of those minutes to the complainant, at no cost to the complainant.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-83 Page 3

 

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:

 

Carl V. Pantaleo

471 East Main St.

P. O. Box 873

Branford, CT 06405-0873

 

Branford Police Commission

30 Harrison Avenue

Branford, CT 06405

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission