FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Frank Smith,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-460

Antonio Landrau; Ronald Davis; James Amato, as members of the Housing Authority of the City of New Britain and Housing Authority of the City of New Britain,  

Respondents

May 14, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 23, 1996, at which time the complainant and 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 of complaint dated July 15, 1996, and filed with the Commission on July 17, 1996, the complainant alleged that the individually named respondents and two Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") representatives held an illegal meeting on June 18, 1996 to discuss HUD’s appointment of a mediator in the dispute between the respondent Housing Authority of the City of New Britain ("NBHA") and its executive director.

3. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., defines a meeting as:

any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. ‘Meeting’ shall not include: … any chance meeting, or a social meeting neither planned nor intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business; … and communication limited to notice of meetings of any public agency or the agendas thereof….

4. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides in relevant part, that "[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subsection (e) of section 1-18a, shall be open to the public…."

5. It is found that a special meeting of the respondent NBHA was noticed for June 18, 1996 at 6:00 p.m., ("the meeting").

6. It is found that on the evening of June 18, 1996 prior to the commencement of the meeting, the individual respondents, who constitute a quorum of the NBHA, purportedly realized that there may have been a problem with the sufficiency of the notice and agenda for the meeting.

7. It is found that shortly before the meeting was scheduled to begin, the complainant and members of the public who had assembled in the meeting room were told by the individual respondents that the meeting was cancelled.

8. It is found that any discussion by the individual respondents about the sufficiency of the notice and agenda for the meeting was not a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and that such communication did not violate the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act.

9. It is found that following the cancellation of the June 18, 1996 meeting, the individually named respondents walked to the NBHA parking lot, where they saw and engaged in conversation with two HUD representatives.

10. The individual respondents contend that the conversation with the HUD representatives was social in nature and that no agency business was discussed.

11. It is found that the respondent NBHA’s decision to have HUD bring in a mediator to assist the NBHA and its executive director in the resolution of an ongoing dispute was made at its publicly held June 12, 1996 meeting, which the complainant attended.

12. It is found that the respondent NBHA’s decision to request a mediator from HUD was made at the NBHA’s June 12, 1996 meeting.

13. It is found that the discussion which took place following the cancellation of the meeting was social in nature, and that no official business was transacted or discussed by the individual respondents following the cancellation of the meeting.

14. It is concluded that the gathering following the cancellation of the meeting was not a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with respect thereto.

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.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 14, 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:

Frank Smith
40 Chestnut Street, Apt 308
New Britain, CT 06051

Antonio Landrau; Ronald Davis; James Amato, as members of the Housing Authority of the City of New Britain and Housing Authority of the City of New Britain
c/o Rudolph P. Arnold, Esq.
Rudolph & Associates
80 Cedar Street
Hartford, CT 06106

James Amato
2134 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06053

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC1996-460/FD/eal/05231997