FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Richard J. Branche and Todd J. Branche,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 91-261

 

Board of Directors, Center Groton Fire District and Center Groton Fire District,

 

Respondents May 13, 1992

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 9, 1992, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 91-266 and Docket #FIC 91-287.

 

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 of complaint filed August 27, 1991 and postmarked August 23, 1991, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent Board:

 

a. voted in executive session at its July 17, 1991 regular meeting to replace the Chief, Assistant Chief and Deputy Chief;

 

b. failed to make available the agenda for the July 17 meeting;

 

c. failed to file minutes of the July 17 meeting with the Groton Town Clerk; and

 

d. failed to make available the record of the vote taken at the July 17 meeting.

 

3. It is found that the respondent Board held a regular meeting on July 17, 1991.

 

4. It is found that the respondents do not have a regular office or place of business.

 

5. It is also found that the respondents are located within the Town of Groton.

 

Docket #FIC 91-261 Page 2

 

6. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.b, above, the respondents stipulated at the hearing that the agenda for the July 17 meeting was not filed with the Groton Town Clerk.

 

7. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 2.a and 2.b, above, it is found that the complainants were present at the July 17 meeting, and knew then that the agenda had not been filed and that votes had been taken in executive session.

 

8. It is concluded that, pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S., the Commission lacks jurisdiction to decide the allegations described in paragraphs 2.a and 2.b, above, since the complainants failed to file their complaint within 30 days of the alleged violations.

 

9. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.c, above, it is found that the respondents kept minutes of the July 17 meeting, but did not file the minutes with the Groton Town Clerk.

 

10. It is found that the complainant obtained a copy of the minutes of the July 17 meeting from the chairman of the respondent Board shortly before August 28, 1991.

 

11. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to maintain the minutes of the July 17 meeting with the Groton Town Clerk.

 

12. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.d, above, it is found that the respondents did not make available for public inspection a record of the votes taken at the July 17 meeting within 48 hours of the meeting, or file such record with the Groton Town Clerk, or record the votes in the minutes of the July 17 meeting.

 

13. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to fulfill the statutory obligations described in paragraph 12, above.

 

14. The Commission notes that the respondents indicated at the hearing that they failed to comply with the requirements of 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., through inadvertence, and would comply with such requirements in the future.

 

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 allegations described in paragraphs 2.a and 2.b of the findings, above, the complaint is dismissed.

 

Docket #FIC 91-261 Page 3

 

2. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 2.c and 2.d of the fidings, above, henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 13, 1992.

 

 

Karen J.Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-261 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:

MR. RICHARD J. BRANCHE

MR. TODD J. BRANCHE

390 Hazelnut Road

Groton, CT 06340

 

ELLEN BROWN NICHOLAS, ESQ.

GIANACOPLOS, JOHNSON, NICHOLAS & GRATER

100 Fort Hill Road

Groton, CT 06340

 

 

Karen J.Haggett

Clerk of the Commission