FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 92-94
Stamford Board of Ethics,
Respondent November 12, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 18, 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 filed with this Commission on March 25, 1992, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the provisions of the FOI Act by failing to provide proper notice of its February 29, 1992 meeting in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S., and by failing to comply with the complainant's request for notice of meetings under 1-21c, G.S.
3. This Commission takes administrative notice of its final decision in contested case docket #FIC 91-123.
4. It is found that on Saturday February 29, 1992, the respondent conducted a special meeting at which they discussed and affirmatively voted on whether to reassert jurisdiction over the complainant, the former mayor, concerning alleged ethics violations.
5. It is found that the respondent filed a notice of special meeting with the Stamford town clerk's office on February 25, 1992. This notice was thereafter amended to include the topic of the reassertion of jurisdiction over the complainant and refiled with the town clerk on February 27, 1992. A February 26, 1992 cover letter and the amended agenda were actually transmitted to the town clerk's office by the respondent via facsimilie on February 26, 1992.
6. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., under the facts of this case.
Docket #FIC 92-94 Page 2
7. It is found that by letter dated May 21, 1991, the complainant's attorney, on behalf of his client, requested prior notice of each meeting pertaining to the respondent's pending investigation of the charges against the commplainant.
8. It is found that on February 25, 1992 the respondent made a facsimilie transmittal to the complainant's attorney, in compliance with his May 1991 request, indicating that the respondent was to hold a special meeting on February 29, 1992 to take testimony of a Robert Ruskowski. This notice made no mention of discussion concerning the complainant's alleged ethics violations or the respondent's consideration of the reassertion of jurisdiction over him.
9. It is also found that although the respondent had amended its notice of special meeting on file with the town clerk's office, it failed to follow up with an amended facsimilie transmittal to notify the complainant's attorney that reassertion of jurisdiction over his client would be discussed on February 29, 1992.
10. It is found that on February 27, 1992, the respondent sent a copy of the amended notice of special meeting through first class mail, which correspondence was improperly addressed and arrived at some time after the special meeting in question.
11. The respondent claims that although it regrets the situation at hand, it did all it was technically required to do under the provisions of the FOI Act in its attempt to notify the complainant's attorney of its special meeting regarding his client.
12. It is found, however, that the respondent failed to send its notice to the complainant's attorney to the correct postal address indicated in his May 21, 1991 request, in accordance with the provisions of 1-21i(c), G.S.
13. It is concluded that the respondent failed to issue proper notice under the facts of this case. It is accordingly concluded that the respondent is in violation of 1-21i(c), G.S.
14. Although not so requested in the complaint filed in this matter, at the hearing the complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties. In its discretion the Commission declines to impose civil penalties in this case.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. Those actions taken at the respondent's special meeting
Docket #FIC 92-94 Page 3
of February 29, 1992 with respect to Thom Serrani are herein declared null and void.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 12, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-94 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:
c/o Atty. James R. Fogarty and Carolyn W. Alexander
Epstein & Fogarty
733 Summer Street
Stamford, CT 06901-1093
Stamford Board of Ethics
c/o Atty. Richard A.V. King II
Marsh, Day & Calhoun
955 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission