FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Jeff S. Tager,
against Docket #FIC 93-202
Blue Hills Fire District,
Respondent January 26, 1994
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 19, 1993, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
At the hearing on this matter, Jimmy Davis and Marie Riccio appeared and were granted intervenor status by the undersigned hearing officer.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent district and the Board of Fire Commissioners (hereinafter "board") of the respondent district are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated July 22, 1993 and filed July 26, 1993, the complainant appealed to the Commission and alleged that:
a. the board failed to properly post notice of
the July 13, 1993 special meeting of the
voters of the respondent district; and
b. the board refused to permit a vote to be
taken at the July 13, 1993 special meeting
of the voters of the respondent district.
3. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty upon the board.
4. With respect to the complainant's allegation in paragraph 2a., above, it is found that on or about June 23, 1993, the voters of the respondent district filed a petition
Docket #FIC 93-202 Page 2
with the board to convene a special meeting, in accordance with the provisions of 7-327, G.S., which authorizes the voters of the respondent district to convene a special meeting upon the filing of such a petition.
5. Section 7-327, G.S., requires that the notice of a special meeting of the voters of the respondent district must be published in a newspaper having a general circulation in the district at least ten days before the day of the meeting; and that the notice shall designate the time and place of such meeting and the business to be transacted thereat.
6. It is found that the petition submitted to the board by the voters of the respondent district, as described in paragraph 4, above, indicated that the business to be considered at such meeting would be "the lack of confidence in the current Fire Commissioners, and a call for their resignation."
7. It is found that after receipt of the petition, the board placed a notice in a local newspaper, indicating that there would be a special meeting of the voters of the respondent district on July 13, 1993 at 7:00 a.m. The notice incorrectly stated that July 13, 1993 was a Wednesday, rather than a Tuesday and did not state the business for the special meeting. In addition to placing the notice in the local newspaper, the board filed the same notice with the clerk at the headquarters of the respondent district.
8. The board maintains that it did not indicate any business for the meeting in the meeting notices because it felt that the voters had no authority to address or vote upon the topic given in the petition, described in paragraph 6, above.
9. It is found that the voters of the respondent district convened a special meeting at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 13, 1993, intending to discuss and vote upon their lack of confidence in the board, but the discussion and vote were stifled by questions raised by the board itself, concerning the lack of an agenda for the subject meeting.
10. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
"The notice [of special meeting] shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted...."
11. Section 1-18a(a), G.S., defines public agency as:
"any executive, administrative or
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legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state or of any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, regional district or other district or other political subdivision of the state...."
12. It is found that the term public agency, as defined in 1-18a(a), G.S., refers to individuals or organizations that represent the public in matters of government. In this regard, the Commission takes administrative notice of its Advisory Opinion #25, Town of East Haddam, dated March 9, 1977.
13. It is further found that the meeting of voters of the respondent district is not a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., for purposes of the notice provisions of 1-21, G.S.; and consequently, the notice of special meeting provisions contained in 1-21, G.S., do not apply to such a meeting.
14. It is concluded therefore that no violation of the Freedom of Information (hereinafter "FOI") Act occurred with respect to the notice of the July 13, 1993 special meeting of the voters of the respondent district.
15. With respect to the complainant's allegation described in paragraph 2b., above, it is found that the complainant has failed to allege a violation of the FOI Act.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
2. The Commission cautions the parties that this decision is limited to the specific facts and issues presented in this case and that no opinion is stated as to whether a meeting of voters of the respondent district is a meeting of a public agency to which any other public access provisions of the FOI Act apply. See Advisory Opinion #25, Town of East Haddam, dated March 9, 1977.
3. Although the Commission concluded that there was no violation of the FOI Act with regard to the July 13, 1993 special meeting of the voters of the respondent district, the Commission notes that there may have been a violation of 7-327, G.S. However, this Commission lacks jurisdiction to make a determination with respect to the provisions of 7-327, G.S.
Docket #FIC 93-202 Page 4
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 26, 1994.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 93-202 Page 5
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:
Jeff S. Tager, Esq.
45 Witonbury Avenue
Bloomfield, CT 06002
Blue Hills Fire District
c/o Philip K. Meister, Esq.
Gersten & Gersten
234 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission