FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-216
February 13, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Veronica Kasperzak,Complainant
against
James A. Botellio, Chairman, Water Pollution Control Authority, Town of Somers; Charles J. Colby; Daniel A. Fraro; Charles B. Gudaitis; Simon Lipton; George Van Tasel, Jr.; Donald P. Smith; and Water Pollution Control Authority, Town of Somers, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 19, 1996, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter dated May 30, 1996, and filed with the Commission on June 3, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by considering an item of business at its regular meeting of May 7, 1996, which item was not listed on the meeting agenda. She claimed that consideration of such item constituted a "secret meeting," and she also requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.

3. Section 1-21(a), G.S., in relevant part, states:

Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of a public agency present and voting, any subsequent business not included in such filed agendas may be considered and acted upon at such meetings.

4. It is found that the respondent authority conducted a duly noticed regular meeting on May 7, 1996, during which meeting the respondent authority voted unanimously to consider an item of "new business" that was not listed on the meeting agenda, the subject of the "four lot subdivision, George Wood Road, Reardon."

5. It is accordingly concluded that the respondents did not violate the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., or any other provision of the FOI Act.

6. At the hearing into this matter, the respondents moved to dismiss the appeal and requested the imposition of civil penalties against the complainant pursuant to 1-21i(b)(2), G.S.

7. Section 1-21i(b)(2), G.S., provides in pertinent part:

If the Commission finds that a person has taken an appeal … frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the agency from which the appeal was taken, after such person has been given the opportunity to be heard … the Commission may, in its discretion, impose against that person a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars….

7. It is found that the complainant’s appeal in this matter was not taken solely for the purpose of harassing the respondents, but rather stemmed from her misinterpretation of the law.

8. Accordingly, this Commission declines to issue civil penalties against any party to this case.

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 complainant should understand that under 1-21i(b)(2), G.S., the Commission’s executive director shall not schedule appeals for hearing without first obtaining leave of the Commission if he has reason to believe those appeals present claims beyond the Commission’s jurisdiction, would perpetrate an injustice, or would constitute an abuse of the Commission’s administrative process.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 13, 1997.

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting 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:

Veronica Kasperzak
120 George Wood Road
PO Box 601
Somers, CT 06071

James A. Botellio, Chairman
Water Pollution Control Authority
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Charles J. Colby
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Daniel A. Fraro
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Charles B. Gudaitis
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Simon Lipton
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

George Van Tasel, Jr.
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Donald P. Smith
600 Main Street
PO Box 308
Somers, CT 06071

Carl T. Landolina, Esq.
487 Spring Street, Suite 2
Windsor Locks, CT 06096

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-216/FD/eal/02211997