FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Richard J. Branche,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-287

 

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 complainant 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 91-261 and Docket #FIC 91-266.

 

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 September 16, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that:

 

a. the respondents did not permit him to remain at their August 21, 1991 meeting because he was not a Center Groton taxpayer;

 

b. notice of the August 21, 1991 meeting was not posted at the Center Groton Firehouse in accordance with the bylaws of the Fire District;

 

c. no quorum of the Fire District was present at the August 21, 1991 meeting, in violation of the bylaws of the Fire District;

 

d. the respondents failed to make available a record of the votes taken at the August 21 meeting within 48 hours of the meeting; and

 

e. no minutes of the August 21 meeting were filed with the Groton Town Clerk.

 

Docket #FIC 91-287 Page 2

 

3. It is found that the respondents held a regular meeting on August 21, 1991.

 

4. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.a, above, the respondents stipulated at the hearing that they did not permit the complainant or other nontaxpayers to remain at the August 21, 1991 meeting.

 

5. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to open the August 21 meeting to all members of the public.

 

6. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 2.b and 2.c, above, it is concluded that the complainant has not alleged a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

7. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 2.d and 2.e, above, it is found that that the respondents have no regular office or place of business.

 

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

 

9. 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 August 21 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 August 21 meeting.

 

10. 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 9, above.

 

11. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.e, above, it is found that the respondents did not file the minutes of the August 21 meeting with the Groton Town Clerk.

 

12. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to maintain the minutes of the August 21 meeting with the Groton Town Clerk.

 

13. 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., because of lack of knowledge of the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, 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:

 

Docket #FIC 91-287 Page 3

 

1. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 2.a, 2.d. and 2.e of the findings, above, henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-19(a) and 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.

 

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 91-287 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