FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Kenneth A. Johnson,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-152

 

John J. Allen, Jr., Michael A. Condon, Robert K. Borger, Madeline M. Lyons, Susan M. Werkhoven, Frederick N. Byerly, Brendan R. Foulois, Gregory E. Seeley and Washington Zoning Commission,

 

Respondents November 13, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 5, 1991, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter filed June 10, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that sometime prior to the respondent commmission's May 20, 1991 regular meeting, the respondents conducted an illegal telephone meeting in violation of the Freedom of Information Act and requesting that the Commission impose civil penalties against the respondents.

 

3. It is found that on May 13, 1991 the respondent commission held a public hearing for the purpose of obtaining input from the public and from Connecticut Light and Power Company (hereinafter "CL&P") regarding the application of CL&P for a power substation in Washington.

 

4. It is also found that pursuant to 16-235, G.S., the

Docket #FIC 91-152 Page 2

 

respondent commission has the authority to approve applications such as the one submitted by CL&P.

 

4. It is also found that sometime after the May 13, 1991 public hearing and prior to the respondent commission's May 20, 1991 regular meeting, the respondent chairman telephoned three members of the respondent commission and asked them how they felt about the pending CL&P application and that his purpose for doing so was to enable him to prepare a motion to present to the respondent commission at its May 20, 1991 regular meeting.

 

5. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., provides in part that a "meeting" for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act includes "any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agecy has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power."

 

6. It is found that the respondent commission consists of five regular and three alternate members.

 

7. It is also found that at the respondent commission's May 20, 1991 regular meeting, a motion was made to accept the CL&P application and that the motion was approved unanimously.

 

8. It is also found that the series of telephone conversations between the respondent chairman and the three respondent commission members, described in paragraph 4., above, constituted communication to a quorum of the respondent commission, via electronic equipment, to discuss a matter over which the respondent commission has jurisdiction.

 

9. It is concluded therefore that the series of telephone conversations, described in paragraph 4., above, constituted a meeting of a public agency as defined in 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

10. It is found that the respondent commission did not file a notice, agenda, or minutes for this meeting, or otherwise provide for public access to it as required by 1-21(a), G.S.

 

11. It is concluded therefore, that the respondent commission violated 1-21(a), G.S.

 

12. Under the facts of this case, however, the Commission, in its discretion, declines to impose civil penalties against the respondents.

 

Docket #FIC 91-152 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 respondents shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21a, G.S.

 

2. Within one month of this final decision the named members of the respondent shall arrange to come to the Freedom of Information Commission in Hartford for a workshop on the Freedom of Information Act.

 

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 91-152 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:

Kenneth A. Johnson

104 Christian Street

New Preston, CT 06777

 

John J. Allen, Michael A. Condon, Robert K. Borger, Madeline M. Lyons, Susan M. Werkhoven, Frederick N. Byerly, Brendan R. Foulois, Gregory E. Seeley and Washington Zoning Commission

c/o Thomas P. Byrne, Esq.

790 Farmington Avenue

Farmington, CT 06032

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission