FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by                        Final Decision

 

George J. Franek, Jr.,

 

                        Complainant

 

            against              Docket #FIC 91-344

 

East Hartford Town Council Investigation and Audit Committee

 

                        Respondent                  May 27, 1992

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 20, 1992, 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 dated November 1, 1991 and filed November 4, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that on October 30, 1991 the respondent convened a meeting without posting a notice for said meeting, in violation of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act.

 

            3.  It is found that on October 30, 1991 the chairman of the respondent met with an attorney from a private law firm and another member of the respondent for approximately one hour.

 

            4.  At the hearing on this matter, the chairman of the respondent testified that she scheduled an appointment with the attorney for October 30, 1991 and invited the other members of the respondent to the appointment to give them an opportunity to meet the attorney.

 

            5.  It is found that the respondent did not file a notice or minutes for the October 30, 1991 meeting.

 

Docket #FIC 91-344                           Page 2

 

            6.  It is found that the respondent is comprised of three members who are all members of the East Hartford Town Council (hereinafter "Council").

 

            7.  It is found that the complainant is the third member of the respondent.

 

            8.  Section 1-18a(b), G.S., provides in part that a "meeting" for purposes of the FOI Act includes "any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, [or] any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency...to

discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power."

 

            9.  It is found that the function of the respondent is to act as the audit branch of the Council and to conduct investigations concerning town expenditures.

 

            10.  It is found that the chairman of the respondent and a second committee member met with the attorney concerning a matter under investigation by the respondent, involving an independent audit that had been prepared for the town, and presented the attorney with information that the attorney would need to provide the respondent with an opinion letter on the matter.

 

            11.  It is found that the chairman of the respondent was authorized by the Council to provide the attorney with the information concerning the matter described in paragraph 10, above.

 

            12.  It is found that due to a potential conflict of interest, the attorney was unable to prepare an opinion letter for the respondent and the Council had to engage another attorney.

 

            13.  It is found that the respondent committee member who met with the attorney along with the chairman of the respondent may have participated in the discussion with the attorney.

 

            14.  It is concluded that the chairman of the respondent  and the second committee member met with the attorney to discuss a matter over which the respondent has jurisdiction.

 

            15.  It is concluded that the October 30, 1991 appointment with the attorney described in paragraph 10 above, was a meeting of a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 91-344                           Page 3

 

            16.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-21(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to file the required notice with the town clerk and by failing to produce minutes for the October 30, 1991 meeting.

 

            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 requirements of 1-21 and 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to notices and minutes of its meetings.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 27, 1992.

 

                                                                 

                                    Karen J.Haggett

                                    Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-344                           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:

Mr. George J. Franek, Jr.

Town of East Hartford

740 Main Street

East Hartford, CT  06108

 

Ms. Carol Guy

East Hartford Town Council Investigation and Audit Committee

740 Main Street

East Hartfrod, CT  06108

 

                                                                 

                                    Karen J.Haggett

                                    Clerk of the Commission