FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 94-313
New Haven County Soil and Water Conservation District, Inc.,
Respondent August 23, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 17 and August 2, 1995 , at which times 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 September 6, 1994, and filed with the Commission on September 9, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by:
a. failing to maintain accurate minutes of its June 27, 1994 special meeting;
b. failing to properly notice its July 25, 1994 meeting;
c. changing the date of its scheduled August 22, 1994 regular meeting to August 8, 1994, without polling three of the repondent's seven members prior to making this change; and
d. failing to post notice, publish an agenda, and to record votes and minutes in a timely manner, for its August 8, 1994 meeting.
3. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant amended his complaint to exclude the allegations, as described in paragraph 2a. and 2b., above.
Docket #FIC 94-313 Page 2
4. Section 1-21i(b)(1), G.S., provides that a notice of appeal shall be filed with the Commission within thirty days of an alleged violation of the FOI Act.
5. Section 1-21i(b)(1), G.S., further provides that a notice of appeal shall be deemed to be filed on the date it is received by the Commission or on the date it is postmarked, if received more than thirty days after the date of the denial from which the appeal is taken.
6. It is found that the notice of appeal was postmarked September 7, 1994, and therefore the Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal with respect to the allegations, as described in paragraph 2c. and 2d., above.
7. It is found that the respondent held a meeting on August 8, 1994, in lieu of a regular meeting scheduled for August 22, 1994.
8. It is concluded that the August 8, 1994 meeting was a special meeting within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.
9. Section 1-21(a), G.S., in relevant part requires that:
[T]he votes of each member of ... [a] public agency upon any issue before such public agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall also be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken, which minutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer....
[N]otice of each special meeting of every public agency ... shall be given not less than twenty four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof in ... the office of the clerk of each municipal member for any multitown district or agency. The secretary or clerk shall cause any notice received under this section to be posted in his office....[Emphasis added.]
[Th]he notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted. No other business shall be considered at such meetings by such public agency....[Emphasis added.]
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10. It is found that the respondent filed a notice of the August 8, 1994 meeting with the office of the Secretary of State approximately one week prior to the date of the meeting.
11. It is found that the notice described in paragraph 10, above, does not indicate the business to be transacted.
12. It is also found that approximately one week prior to the August 8, 1994 meeting the respondent sent a notice of the meeting to its members, including the complainant, who received such notice.
13. It is found that an agenda dated July 25, 1994, which was prepared for a previous meeting of the respondent, was sent by an employee of the respondent as the agenda for the August 8, 1994 meeting.
14. It is found that no August 8, 1994 meeting agenda was prepared and made available by the respondent within twenty-four hours of the August 8, 1994 meeting.
15. At the hearing in this matter, the respondent conceded that it did not have available within forty-eight hours of the August 8, 1994 meeting the votes taken at such meeting, nor did it have the minutes of the August 8, 1994 meeting available within seven days of such meeting.
16. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2c., above, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by its decision to reschedule the August 22, 1994 meeting to August 8, 1994.
17. However, with respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2d., above it is concluded that the respondent violated the notice provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., when it failed to make available an agenda for the August 8, 1994 meeting within twenty-four hours of such meeting, and when it failed to include in the August 8, 1994 meeting notice the business to be transacted.
18. It is also concluded that the respondent violated the meeting provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., when it failed to make available a record of the votes taken and the minutes of the August 8, 1994 meeting, within forty-eight hours and seven days, respectively, of such meeting.
19. The Commission in its discretion declines to issue a null and void remedy in this case.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned
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1. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the notice and meeting requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.
2. Although not explicitly addressed in the complaint, the Commission notes that the respondent is required to file its annual schedule of meetings and notice of special meetings in the office of the clerk of each of its municipal members, in accordance with the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.
3. The complaint is hereby dismissed with respect to the allegations, as described in paragraph 2a., 2b. and 2c., of the findings, above.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 23, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-313 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:
Mr. Paul Bradley
Rolling Acres Farm
North Branford, CT 06471-1102
New Haven County Soil and Water Conservation District, Inc.
c/o Eliot D. Prescott, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm StreetP.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission