FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Thomas Jefferson Supina
against Docket #FIC 92-1
Ashford First Selectman
Respondent May 27, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 27, 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. On several occasions during December of 1991, the complainant requested of the respondent a copy of the minutes of the meeting of December 5, 1991 called by the respondent, and attended by another selectman ("second selectman") and various department heads and members of boards and commissions.
3. Having failed to receive the requested minutes, the complainant appealed to the Commission by letter dated January 1, 1992 and received by the Commission on January 3, 1992.
4. By letter dated January 6, 1992 and received by the complainant on January 11, 1992, the respondent apologized for the delay and provided the complainant with a copy of his notes for the meeting in question since no formal minutes were prepared or filed.
5. The meeting in question was called by the respondent by memorandum dated November 26, 1991 and addressed to all department heads and board and commission members. The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss, among other things, purchase order and voucher procedures, meeting scheduling and town financing.
6. The meeting was sanctioned by the board of selectmen and was attended by two of the three members of the board of selectmen, by some 18 town officials and board and commission members, 10 of whom occupy positions appointed or hired by the board of selectmen, and by the complainant.
#FIC 92-1 Page 2
7. It is found that the respondent's notes provided to the complainant fairly represent what transpired at the meeting in question and could adequately serve as the minutes for that meeting.
8. The respondent claims that the meeting in question was informational in nature only and therefore was not subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, in particular the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S., with respect to keeping minutes and making them available to the public within seven days of the session to which they refer. Indeed, the second selectman testified that the meeting in question was social in nature, with people meeting each other for the first time and talking over coffee and donuts, in addition to their listening to the various attendees, including both selectmen, make presentations and ask and answer questions.
9. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., in relevant part, defines a meeting subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act as:
. . . any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and 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 agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
10. Among the various matters discussed at the meeting in question were: the procedures to be followed when dealing with different town departments; the procedures for submitting purchase orders and vouchers; freedom of information procedures; a request by the second selectman that the board of selectmen be informed of all board and commission meetings and notifying those in attendance that the board of selectmen wants to be part of the budget process for each board and commission; and a request by the respondent that all budget proposals be closely scrutinized for possible reductions.
11. It is found that the meeting in question clearly constituted a meeting of the board of selectmen in that it was both a proceeding and a convening or assembly of a quorum of that body to discuss matters over which it has supervision, control, jurisdiction and advisory power.
12. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., when he failed to provide the complainant with access to the minutes of the meeting in question within the time period required by that section.
#FIC 92-1 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 respondent shall comply strictly with the minutes requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.
2. The respondent shall forthwith cause a copy of his notes of the subject December 5, 1991 meeting to be filed as the minutes of that meeting, in accordance with the provisons of 1-21(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
3. In light of the undisputed facts of this case, including the respondent's note-taking in what clearly appears to be in the form of minutes, the Commission finds the respondent's position that the meeting in question was not a meeting subject to the Freedom of Information Act to be totally disingenuous and contrived. The Commission cautions the respondent that it will not permit such conduct to go unaddressed in the future by the imposition of appropriate sanctions.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 27, 1992.
Clerk of the Commission
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. Thomas Jefferson Supina
260 Ference Road
Stafford Springs, CT 06076
Douglas J. Williams, Esq.
Boland, St. Onge & Brouillard
211 Kennedy Drive
Putnam, CT 06261
Clerk of the Commission