FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Richard N. Bergen and Susan G. Ellis,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 91-59

 

Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc.,

 

Respondent November 13, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 30, 1991 and September 3, 1991, at which times the complainants 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 filed with this Commission on March 13, 1991, the complainants alleged that on March 7, 1991, the respondent violated the FOI Act by discussing a grievance against the complainants in a closed session without providing the complainants with the opportunity to require an open session. The complainants also alleged that the respondent failed to post notice of its March 7, 1991 special meeting at least 24 hours in advance at the town clerk's office.

 

2. At the hearings into this matter, the respondent claimed that it is a private entity not subject to the provisions of the FOI Act.

 

3. It is found that well over half of the respondent's funding derives from town funds; that the town carries insurance to cover the respondent's vehicles, building and personnel; that the town provides gasoline for the respondent's ambulances; and that the town pays for the respondent's general maintenance including landscaping and janitorial services.

 

4. It is also found that a new facility for the housing of ambulances is slated to be built upon town land.

 

5. It is concluded therefore that a significant portion of the respondent's financial obligations are paid with public money.

 

Docket #FIC 91-59 Page 2

 

6. It is found that the town performs financial auditing of the respondent.

 

7. It is also found that the respondent is subject to a variety of state laws and regulations including those of the Office of Emergency Services.

 

8. It is concluded that the respondent is subject to government involvement/regulation.

 

9. It is found that the respondent is a division of the town of Glastonbury's department of public safety along with other divisions such as that of the police and fire departments.

 

10. It is found that the municipality is required to establish a Hazardous Materials Operations Annex (HAZMAT Operations Plan) under federal and state law, and that emergency medical response services are required as a part of that plan.

 

11. It is found that the respondent performs those emergency medical response services identified in paragraph 10, above.

 

12. It is concluded that the respondent carries out a governmental function.

 

13. It is found that at its inception the respondent was created by a group of police officers seeking to help their town, but the respondent was not at that time a part of the Glasonbury police department.

 

14. It is concluded that the respondent was not originally a creation of government.

 

15. It is concluded, however, that the totality of factors concerning the respondent dictate that under the functional equivalence test as expounded upon in the case of Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 218 Conn. 757 (1991), the respondent is a quasi-public agency for purposes of application of the FOI Act.

 

16. It is found that the respondent's executive board filed grievances against the complainants, and a hearing was scheduled for March 7, 1991 at which time the complainants' attorney appeared to request that the hearing be open in accordance with the FOI Act. The respondent denied the complainants' request for an open hearing on March 7, 1991.

 

17. It is also found that the respondent's March 7, 1991 gathering constituted a special meeting.

 

Docket #FIC 91-59 Page 3

 

18. It is found that on March 7, the respondent did agree to reschedule its planned discussion of the grievance against the complainants; however, the respondent did not discuss either complainant or the actual grievance.

 

19. It is accordingly concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with respect to that portion of the complaint concerning a March 7 discussion as identified in paragraph 1, above.

 

20. By letter filed with this Commission on April 24, 1991, the complainants alleged that on March 17, 1991, the respondent conducted a continued meeting concerning the above-referenced grievance, which meeting violated the provisions of the FOI Act.

 

21. It is concluded that the FOI Commission lacks jurisdiction over the allegations identified in paragraph 20, above, as the April 24, 1991 letter was not filed in compliance with 1-21i(b), G.S., and as the complainants' March 12 complaint is likewise not operative prospectively under the terms of 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

22. It is found that the respondent failed to post notice of its March 7, 1991 meeting in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

23. It is therefore concluded that the respondent's failure to post notice of its March 7, 1991 meeting at the town clerk's office at least 24 hours in advance of that meeting was a violation of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

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 comply with the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. Although not properly within the scope of the complaint due to the fact that evidence at the hearings below failed to demonstrate that the complainants sought and were denied a record of votes or minutes of any meetings within 30 days prior to the filing of the complaint in this matter, the Commission points out to the respondent the necessity of maintaining a record of votes and minutes under the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 91-59 Page 4

 

3. That portion of the complaint concerning any improper discussion at the respondent's March 7 meeting is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 13, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-59 Page 5

 

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:

Richard N. Bergen and Susan G. Ellis

c/o Joel M. Ellis, Esq.

18 North Main Street

West Hartford, CT 06107

 

Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc.

c/o Craig A. Raabe, Esq.

Robinson & Cole

One Commercial Plaza

Hartford, CT 06103-3597

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission