FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1996-313
June 4, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Angela D. Raymond, Complainant
Mark Lyon, Chairman, Land Use Task Force, Town of Brookfield; William Braun, Gerald Barra, Dennis Stone, and Daniel Eberhard, as Members of the Land Use Task Force, Town of Brookfield; and Land Use Task Force, Town of Brookfield, Respondents
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 11, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption has been amended to correctly identify the respondents in this matter.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. By letter of complaint dated and filed with the Commission by facsimile transmission on May 17, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act with respect to its April 24, 1996 meeting by failing to prepare, file or post an agenda for that meeting; by prohibiting the complainant from attending that meeting and by failing to prepare and file minutes of that meeting. In her appeal, the complainant also requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty against each of the individual respondents.
2. It is found that the respondent task force was established by the towns board of selectmen to, among other things: review the towns charter, local ordinances, state statutes and state requirements for mandated land use boards and commissions and evaluate the performance of all of the towns land use staff and personnel; and advise the board on the towns land use activities and recommend improvements to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the towns land use personnel, policy and practice.
3. The respondents contend that at the time of the April 24, 2996 meeting, and contrary to the protestations of the complainant to the contrary, they believed that the respondent task force was neither a public agency, nor that its meetings were subject to the provisions of the FOI Act.
4. It is found that the respondent task force and its members are public agencies within the meaning of § 1-18a(a), G.S.
5. In relevant part, § 1-18a(b), G.S., states that:
"[m]eeting" [for purposes of the FOI Act] means 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.
6. It is therefore concluded that the April 24, 1996 meeting of the respondent task force constituted a meeting of that body within the meaning of § 1-18a(b), G.S., subject to the provisions of § 1-21(a), G.S., including its public notice, right to attend, executive session, and minutes provisions.
7. It is found that with respect to its April 24, 1996 meeting, the respondent task force: (a) did not prepare, file or post an agenda or notice; (b) prohibited the complainant from attending; (c) did not properly convene in executive session; and (d) did not prepare and file minutes.
8. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated those provisions of § 1-21(a), G.S., described in paragraph 7, above, with respect to the respondent task forces April 24, 1996 meeting.
9. It is found that on or about November 4, 1996, the respondent task force was disbanded.
10. Given the facts of this case, the Commission declines to impose a civil penalty.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. In view of the fact that the respondent task force has been disbanded, no further order by the Commission is necessary.
With the consent of counsel for the respondents, a copy of the Final Decision in this case shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the Town Hall for a period of thirty (30) days.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 4, 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:
William J. Raymond, Jr. and Angela D. Raymond
c/o Angela D. Raymond
82 Laurel Hill Road
Brookfield, CT 06804
Mark Lyon, Chairman, Land Use Task Force, Town of Brookfield;
William Braun, Gerald Barra, Dennis Stone, and Daniel Eberhard,
as Members of the Land Use Task Force, Town of Brookfield; and
Land Use Task Force, Town of Brookfield
c/o Francis J. Collins, Esq.
148 Deer Hill Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission