FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Alphonse Avitabile and Democratic Town Committee,
against Docket #FIC 92-363
Bethlehem Board of Selectmen,
Respondent June 23, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 4, 1993, at which time the complainants 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 December 10, 1992, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the agenda for the respondent's November 16, 1992 meeting failed to state that an assessor would be appointed, and that the agenda was not available 24 hours before the meeting.
3. The letter of complaint also made allegations about the process of making nominations for appointments, which the complainants did not pursue at the hearing on this matter.
4. The respondent moved to dismiss the complaint because the complainants failed to serve a copy of the complaint on the respondents, in claimed violation of 1-21j-26 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, which alleged violation the respondent maintains deprives the Commission of subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint.
5. It is concluded 1-21j-26 is a regulation governing service, not a statute affecting the Commission's subject matter jurisdiction.
6. It is also concluded that 1-21j-26 does not in fact require service of the complaint by the complainant on the respondent, but only service of papers subsequent to the filing of a complaint.
7. Also, it is found that the complaint was served on the respondent by the Commission.
Docket #FIC 92-363 Page 2
8. It is also found that the respondent offered no evidence to prove that it had been prejudiced in any way by the method of service of the complaint.
9. The respondent in its motion to dismiss also claims that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
10. It is found, however, that the complaint alleges violations of 1-21(a), G.S., concerning the content and timely filing of agendas of regular meetings.
11. The respondent's motion to dismiss is therefore denied.
12. Section 1-21(a), G.S., requires that the agendas for regular meetings of public agencies be filed in the agency's regular office or place of business not less than 24 hours before the meeting to which they refer.
13. Section 1-21(b), G.S., provides that Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays and any day on which the agency's office is closed shall be excluded in determining the time within which an agenda must be filed.
14. It is found that the respondent held a regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 16, 1992.
15. It is found that the agenda for that meeting was posted in the office of the respondent about 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 13, 1992.
16. It is found that the office of the respondent is open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Saturdays, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Mondays.
17. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-21, G.S., by posting the agenda for its Monday evening meeting on the preceding Friday morning.
18. It is found that the agenda for the November 16 meeting listed "assessor resignation" as an item of business to be transacted.
19. The respondent maintains that the item "assessor resignation" encompassed any subsequent action that the respondent might take to fill the vacancy created by that resignation.
20. It is found, however, that the item "assessor resignation" did not reasonably notify the public that the respondent would receive nominations for that position or act that night to fill the vacancy in the position.
Docket #FIC 92-363 Page 3
21. It is found that the respondent also reached a consensus at the meeting to consider the first selectman's nominee for the vacated position of assessor and voted to appoint that nominee.
22. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides that subsequent business not included in the filed agenda may be considered and acted upon at a regular meeting upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members.
23. It is found, however, that the respondent failed to move or vote to add the business described in paragraph 21, above, to its agenda.
24. It is concluded that the respondent technically violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to conduct a vote to add the matter of the appointment of an assessor to its agenda.
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 act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S., with respect to voting to add items to the agendas of its regular meetings.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 23, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-363 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:
Alphonse Avitabile and Democratic Town Committee
Carmel Hill Road
Bethehem, CT 06751
Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
c/o Jill Hartley, Esq.
Cohn & Birnbaum
100 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103-4500
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission